Whaleoil: Rodney Hide on Dunedin’s Luddite Council

Ever since Helen Clark allowed councils general competence we have seen debt burgeon and empire building of armies of council staff increase. It is time to rein in the excesses. The reforms have largely failed. I’m not even sure we need local councils in any case….except to just provide essential services. –Cameron Slater

Whale Oil Beef Hooked logo### whaleoil.co.nz May 24, 2014 at 5:00pm
Rodney Hide on Dunedin’s Luddite Council
By Cameron Slater
Rodney Hide excoriates the Dunedin City Council for their embracing of a buggy culture. [NBR paysite]

“I was taken aback by Dunedin City Council committing to invest ethically. I would have thought it was already beyond reproach. But it turns out it’s not about the council not taking back-handers and the like but rather what it can and can’t invest in. Henceforth, it won’t invest in porn, munitions, tobacco or gambling. Seriously? Was investing in porn ever in prospect? I once took a paper to the cabinet to circumscribe council activity. I wanted to limit them to core services. To buttress my argument, I had examples of the nutty investments that councils had entangled ratepayers in. I remember dairy farms, property development, Lotto shops and cinemas. My concern wasn’t ethical investing but rather local government’s proper role. I wanted councils to stick to basics. I didn’t succeed but would have had a chance with the Dunedin example: a council having to make a rule to stop itself investing in pornographic movies.”
Read more

It matters enormously that city leaders are declaring fossil fuel extraction unethical. –Rodney Hide

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under DCC, Hot air, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics

15 responses to “Whaleoil: Rodney Hide on Dunedin’s Luddite Council

  1. Peter

    It is inevitable when you make moral/ethical stands as a politician people will judge you by your own standards both personal and political. This is fair enough too.
    I find it interesting that with the whole Benson-Pope ruse of searching for natural justice he was able to get some left candidates alongside him. Now it is often the left who pat themselves on the back for their purist, ethical stands. We of course know both the left and the right are able to do the dirty when it suits.
    Sometimes they are quite willing to shaft good people for a bit of horse trading for their own agendas. Nothing like turning a blind eye to injustice…maybe even potential fraud…when it suits.
    Some are even so bold to say we have heard it all before or it is time to move on and let it go.
    I call that unethical, don’t you?

  2. Mike

    Yes I agree, for all his anti-tax, libertarian, small government, pro-private enterprise rhetoric when the time came for Rodney to come down to Dunedin to look at whether the DCC should be getting into the professional sports business, Rodney caved to the good old rugby boys – it made me realise that all his ‘principles’ were just a front for business as usual.

    • Peter

      Yes, Mike, and we get the Left, whose hearts bleed for the strugglers, siding with those who are all take and no give. Why? Because it is easier to do so.
      Too many poster girls and boys for good causes, but with no balls where it counts. All good PR stuff for building your political career.

  3. It is hard to say what motivated a majority of council to vote that issue on ‘fossil extraction’ instructions to the Waipori Fund management. It sure as hell didn’t consider the unintended consequences of that measure. As Rodney Hide so well remarked, there are things councils are charged to do, and there are activities they have neither any business nor any qualifications to dabble in. And that vote was one of them. When a small group of strongly motivated people are in a position to affect a city’s population, without a mandate for that position it is time for change. The Mayor, on this occasion showed a lack of both business acumen and leadership. Again!

    • Calvin Oaten you must eat your oats like me. We need Council to judge wisely as it is called to do. Council needs to take wise counsel and not blunder on and make the same mistakes repeatedly and they must stick to the core business no matter who criticises them or no matter what offers they are made. They are not asked to do anything else as that is enough for them to do.

  4. Russell Garbutt

    Rodney Hide came to Dunedin to listen to some of the arguments about the stadium and why the DCC should not be getting into pouring money into such a stupid venture. I, among others, met him to appraise him on what was happening and how it should have deeply concerned him as Minister of Local Government. He went from the meeting I was at to one at the DCC where he was meeting Chin et al. God only knows what went on there, but he either encouraged the DCC to go ahead, or could not or would not get them to face reality instead of the BS put about by the CST and the rugby mafia.

    For all his promises and professions of deep concern, at such inappropriate spending at our meeting, it was pure unadulterated hogwash.

    Rodney Hide is a politician and as such had most of the characteristics of one including saying one thing and doing another. My view of him after his stint as Minister was that he couldn’t give a stuff. All he wanted was to make a super City out of Auckland and of course they ended up in an horrific mess with Len Brown fully committed to dropping his pants at every opportunity while charging up all the expenses of doing so thanks to his Council influences and/or credit card. Rodney Hide was no better in that he was revealed as a hypocrite professing being a perk-buster and actually feeding at the trough of public funding for private gain. And a lousy dancer by the way.

    Frankly, Rodney Hide is no better or no worse than most of them and the only good he is doing with his article is making the Dunedin mess a little more obvious. But it will not fix a thing in Dunedin. It needs to be said that Dunedin has had more than its fair share of self-seeking, incompetent and probably corrupt Councillors over the last 15 years or so, and the current mix seems to be an increasingly dangerous collection of those that simply don’t understand finance, those that are dancing to the beat of a different drum to the average ratepayer who bothered to vote, or those that are both gullible or naïve. Bung in the odd one that should not be there based on their past exploits and what do you have?

  5. Russell: if Rodney Hide was convinced by your arguments, his ability to influence John Key’s cabinet would have been reduced by the efforts of Michael Woodhouse who saw himself as the economic savior of Dunedin. The resulting $15 million “gift” from the government turned into the gift that keeps on taking. Their stadium sucks out more than $15 million every year from our fragile economy. I don’t know how much blame Hide deserves, but Minister Woodhouse deserves plenty.
    Anyway Rodney Hide has done us a small favour by drawing attention to our problem councillors and their brainless idealism.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      This is a diamond:
      “But just the council. After all, they are the ones thumping the tub. They would toss their computers and fancy phones in favour of quill, parchment and horseback. Now that would be tremendous. It would put local government back in its box better than anything I ever came up with. A council reduced to quill and parchment! Imagine it. They would achieve next to nothing. That would liberate the city. Dunedin would boom.”

      • It’s worth reading the whole thing (link at top of page). Here is the last bit of Rodney Hide’s wise words: “Ever since Helen Clark allowed councils general competence we have seen debt burgeon and empire building of armies of council staff increase. It is time to rein in the excesses. The reforms have largely failed.
        I’m not even sure we need local councils in any case….except to just provide essential services.”

  6. Cars

    The object word is ALLOWED councils general competence. The fact is that almost all councils including Kaipara, Dunedin, Auckland, Christchurch have merely demonstrated that they are totally INCOMPETENT. I wonder whether dear Helen understood that setting the boundaries high would in fact create a bar that NO council could climb over. Please all demand that the connect between council spending and ratepayers’ requirement to pay is forever broken. We need to allow for council failure-bankruptcy, not a commissioner. That concept has proven faulty in Kaipara.

  7. Russell Garbutt

    The law is such that at the moment a ratepayer is bound to pay rates, no matter how unjustified that is. Helen Clark will go down eventually as the ultimate control freak hell-bent on driving through her strange personal agenda. I believe that she still pulls the strings in the Labour Party from New York. But in the meantime we are left with Local Government largely totally unqualified to run a corner store let alone a multi million dollar enterprise with a guarantee to have their costs covered by law. Look at the qualifications of the current DCC and ask yourself just how many actually possess the skills to run an enterprise. Some are well-meaning, but really? How many could go into a real business that relied on creating profits for shareholders? Can you truly imagine any of our Councillors being head-hunted to go onto the Board of Fonterra, or any other significant Board? But that is the reality of Local Government. No responsibility, even less accountability, and no obvious real qualifications. Ah, dear old Helen.

    • Toby

      Russell: you say “unqualified to run a corner store.” How about a wine shop? Failed that too.

      • Russell Garbutt

        Ah yes, forgot that one. Just as a bit of a test, we have Hilary Calvert and Doug Hall that run their own businesses, and Richard Thomson does the same, but how many can you name that have proven governance skills and abilities other than Local Govt?

  8. Hype O'Thermia

    It’s the use of those words “general competence”.
    Should have been vetted by the Unintended Consequences Arbiter.
    What it resulted in was large numbers of people of limited completence in limited fields developing the collective delusion that they were competent at Everything in General. Bad mistake.

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