Wairarapa News : February 6th 2013
10 WAIRARAPA NEWS, FEBRUARY 6, 2013 OPINION John Hayes www.national.org.nz ELECTORATE OFFICE 82 Queen St, PO Box 904, Masterton 5840 Open 10am - 4pm Mon - Fri P: 0800 2 HAYES P: 06 370 1213 E: firstname.lastname@example.org w ww.johnhayes.co.nz MP FOR WAIRARAPA 4203261AD Proudly supported by 5118761A A 140 Dixon Street, Masterton, Ph 06 378 8039 • Email email@example.com CANCER INFORMATION HELPLINE 0800 CANCER (226 237) Cancer Society Wairarapa Affected by cancer? Cancer patients and their families/whanau deserve access to the best possible support available. Refer them to Cancer Society Wairarapa's free cancer support services. • Information, counselling and emotional support • Support groups, educational courses & workshops • Free transportation to treatment & accommodation out of town • Welfare grant scheme • Wigs and prosthesis fittings • Look Good, Feel Better • Lymphoedema advice • Massage & Relaxation therapy • Library, available for loan • Cancer Connect NZ -- peer support by phone • Cancer Chat NZ -- online discussion forum Calling all cancer survivors... come and paint your handprint on the Relay Hope Banner! Weekdays 9:30-3pm. 2142976GT If it ain't broke, why try fixing it? THE LONG VIEW RICK LONG Politicians are the same every- where. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.'' -- Nikita Khrushchev I have always believed that once you elect people to represent you on whatever political entity, you ought to accept the decisions they make on your behalf. After all, presuming they are diligently acquiring the facts surrounding an issue, they will inevitably know more than you to effect the conclusions they come to, even if it doesn t necessarily fit your own careful consideration of the topic. The eighteenth century political theorist and philosopher Edmund Burke put this hypothesis much more succinctly when he wrote: Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement, and he betrays instead of serving you, if he sacri- fices it to your opinion. And yet despite this I fear the decision made by the three Wai- rarapa District Councils to amal- gamate and form a unitary auth- ority, thereby abandoning the services of the very generous Greater Wellington Regional Council, is a risky one and if enac- ted, has the propensity to seriou- sly betray their judgement. I have spoken to a number of councillors and council officers from the three councils and I know they genuinely believe, hav- ing diligently acquired more facts than I have access to, that they can somehow absorb the $11 mil- lion shortfall without increasing rates or reducing services. They say they have spoken at length to other local authorities who have taken on regional coun- cil roles. Gisborne City, Nelson City, Tasman District and Marl- borough District all operate uni- tary authorities, apparently suc- cessfully, and their collective advice to the Wairarapa Govern- ance Review Working Party com- mittee has been positive. Our diligent representatives believe that the Wellington Regional Council is over-staffed, over-regulated and over there. Wellington has got closer to the Wairarapa in recent years with modern transport options and a hill road that is being regularly shortened. It s a doddle now to travel to the absolutely positive capital, rated by The Lonely Pla- net Best in Travel 2011 as fourth on its list of the top 10 cities in the world to visit. It claimed Welling- ton was the coolest little capital in the world . Last weekend s Rugby Sevens tournament certainly testified to this and to link up with the lively metropolis would surely be to our distinct advantage. For years Wairarapa has been a bit of a backwater and has had static growth. We are often left out of nationally quoted statistics -- real estate prices for instance -- and despite having a number of sub- stantial towns within its environs only Masterton is recognised on the TV weather maps. To join up with the super-city may be just the conduit we ve been looking for to make our mark in the world. And so I m surprised there hasn t been more enthusiasm shown by locals to embrace this recourse. After all we flock to Wel- lington for our entertainment and from my observations we regu- larly join the crowds at Lower Hutt s Queensgate to shop. We are eternally grateful for Wellington s medical facilities when we are seriously sick and the recent merger of the three district health boards, Wairarapa, Hutt and Capital and Coast appears to have been met with total acceptance. Last week, attendees at a well- attended public meeting at the superb Carterton Events Centre unanimously endorsed a resol- ution to slow the decision-making process down. With the Govern- ment now admitting that it is unable to introduce legislation in time for this year s local body elec- tions, this seemed like a sensible option. But then you could well ask: why do anything at all? What is currently in place seems to be working well apart from regular rate increases. Sadly there is nothing in the alternatives propo- sed that might give comfort to this unsustainable situation. Writing in this week s Listener, Wellington economist Dr Oliver Hartwich says that arguably the best local government system in the world is Switzerland s. They have 2495 municipalities for 8 million people. A similar ratio for the Welling- ton region would yield 155 coun- cils. Perhaps were not over-governed after all. All singing the Novopay hindsight anthem TALKING POLITICS GORDON CAMPBELL Rarely have so many sung from the same song book over as big a fiasco. Finance Minister Bill English conceded last week that in hind- sight things might have been done differently with the Novopay system. Within minutes, Associate Edu- cation Minister Craig Foss said that with the benefit of hind- sight the Novopay system could be criticised, but that he had acted on the best advice available. Almost simultaneously, Edu- cation Minister Hekia Parata told reporters that hindsight is a won- derful thing , but that she, too, had acted on the best advice avail- able. Had these three ministers who signed off the Novopay deal agreed among themselves that self-preservation required them to (a) blame their critics for being wise only after the fact and (b) blame their officials for allegedly misleading them? With hindsight, it certainly looked that way. The credibility problem is that their strategy contained almost as many flaws as the Novopay sys- tem itself. Papers released last week under the Official Information Act indicated that far from being mindless boosters of the Novopay system, Ministry of Education officials had engaged in a two- year battle with Talent 2 (the Novopay providers) and had almost scrapped the system entirely four months before it went live last August. In June 2012, the ministry pro- duced an internal report listing 147 software defects and identify- ing nearly 6000 errors with the system. Such were the concerns that officials began discussions with Datacom, the previous pay system provider, but those talks never came - or were never allowed to come - to fruition. As the deadline loomed, then Education secretary Lesley Long- stone and her deputy, Anne Jack- son, reportedly advised Talent 2 that four essential deadlines had not been met by the company, thereby allegedly putting Talent 2 in breach of its contract. In sum, it is hard to see how that paper trail supports an argu- ment that Cabinet Ministers were being misled by wildly enthusi- astic officials. It looks more like the officials were ultimately told by their min- isters to go away and make the system work, regardless. Now, those officials are being cast as scapegoats. It is easy to see why Parata s recent karma joke went down so badly in education circles. Having flagged the problems beforehand and striven after- wards to make Novopay work, the officials found their own pay pac- kets were going haywire. Rather than sympathise, Parata chose to publicly express her satisfaction at their plight. After all, had they carried out their prime duty -- ie, to save her from political embarrassment? Plainly not. (Yet again, Parata s inadequacies as a leader and communicator have been self- exposed.) Ironically, by the end of the week, the government had reportedly restarted discussions with Datacom, apparently to sort out the software faults in Talent 2 s system. As of early January, teachers were owed nearly $12 million by Novopay. Luckily for the govern- ment, all this got overshadowed last week by the coverage afforded to the death of someone who could communicate with the public: namely, television/radio pres- enter, print columnist and women s magazines staple throughout the 1990s, Sir Paul Holmes. We won t see his like again, partly because the TVNZ market dominance that launched his pro- fessional skills and personal foib- les to almost North Korean levels of exposure is now a thing of the past.
January 30th 2013
February 13th 2013