Friday, October 08, 2004

Local Government a big bore!

It is the last day to vote for the 2004 Local Government and once again (except for the Mayoral battle in Auckland) it is hard to get excited. When the votes are all counted, once again, it will be shown that in many area not even a majority of citizens even bother to vote. I must rush down and pass in my vote - its too late to post!

I wonder when someone will work it out that Local Government needs a fresh look. Why is it all so boring and does it have to be? Surely local government is more than 'rates roads and rubbish'?

The problem is that there seems no emotional involvement in local government. Maybe it is because there are so many fragmented bits involved in our lives and to little collaboration between them all. Physicist, David Bohm suggests that the rationality of science has fragmented our world and this has resulted in dividing everything into often conflicting bits. Like Humpty Dumpty we need to think how to put it all back together again. Asking the 'kings men' will be no use, we need to do it ourselves.

The new century will be an exciting age age of relationships and connections and not closed departments. All our big cities have closed organizations within them controlled from Wellington ( and they are well known for their poor inter agency communication). Most of these organizations like, CYPS , the Police and Justice etc have a heavy involvement in many peoples lives and need local input. There are also other independent local government organizations like Health Boards that have little connection with other governing bodies. Add to this scores of 'stand alone' schools that comply to central government and it is all a bit of a mess. Schools particularly have great potential to contribute to a new sense of community if there were some regional coordination.

Once we had Local Government ( Provincial Government) created due to difficulties of travel and communication. This was replaced by a more equitable Central Government. Over the years this central government became unwieldy, inflexible and bureaucratic. In the nineties 'market forces' pushed for less central government and now there is a movement, from the present government, to pass more responsibility down to local communities. I have even heard the words 'direct democracy from our Prime Minister.

If this were to eventuate I envisage candidates or regional councils holding town meetings to discuss what really matters, what is not working and ideas for improvement? I know this does currently happen to a degree but few attend. I can imagine meetings called to involve residents in decisions that concern them. I imagine local communities really becoming self determining and supporting candidates that offer the best ideas or visions of the future.

What is now needed is for a political party to really encourage more inclusive local government and greater coordination between all the various organizations and agencies that exist within them. This inclusive vision could create some excitement and we might get more voters turning out. Might be worth voting then! Sounds like real democracy.

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