For my first four editorials of 2016, I will address the three themes our members have decided need to be a priority focus for New Zealand’s future:
- Practical solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change
- Overcoming the challenges of increasingly diverse communities
- Recognising the long term negative consequences of wealth inequality
A fourth theme, empowering our regions to take control of their own decisions, runs across all three of the core themes, and it is this I will address below. The fact that they are deeply connected to each other is the first port call for understanding our future direction.
New Zealand can no longer afford to separate issues as if they are not connected. There has been a significant trend away from a top-down-you-must-do-what-we-say approach required by Central Government because it is no longer suitable for some regions who are exploring other forms of economic and lifestyle choices. Hawkes Bay is a classic case.
In this newsletter, I want to focus on Regionalisation of Nationwide Issues in four short snapshots:
Regionalisation is a new matter. It stands for the sheer fact that Central Government input into our regions is encroaching on what our regions want for themselves. A central debate related to this move has been the very sloppy RMA fine-tuning by the National-led Government in 2015. Water rights will also be a raw issue in 2016 and beyond.
Regionalisation means not every region has the same needs. For example, Northland has needs Waikato does not have. Hawkes Bay and others want to explore new approaches to developing their region as an attractive place to invest and live.
Regionalisation means greater incentive for responsibility. For too long councils have overspent budgets, got involved in projects that ultimately failed (Waikato). There is a strong need for the redemption of responsibility in all regions, to ensure that every regional authority understands they have a obligation to be MORE responsible with ratepayers money and key resources.
Regionalisation of Nationwide Issues needs its ratepayers’ input. I strongly recommend you help UnitedFuture with what issues we should tackle first, that can be pragmatically prioritised.
Please do email us with what you think and we will discuss these over the next few Board meets.
Quentin Todd, Board Member & Editor