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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Not a whole lot of tech, so...

19 Mar 2024

Perhaps I'm missing something but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of wow-factor news in the tech sector right now.

AI has been beaten to death, Moore's Law chugs along as usual, despite repeated claims that we've hit a quantum limit, and even fancy new gadgets like the Apple AR headset seem to have faded from the headlines of late.

So, reluctantly, I'll turn to my other passion for today's column and highlight a video that really needs to be mentioned, if only because of its brutal honesty.

No, I'm not going to bore you with more talk of drones and regulations. I'm going to highlight a problem that is nationwide throughout New Zealand and probably exists on a global scale throughout the world.

I'm talking about the insanity that is local government.

Wait... before you click away, just watch this video and tell me that it's not filled with things we all know but which the vast majority are just too afraid to say.

Michael Laws is sometimes a bit of a circular rower (ie: only one oar in the water) but on this occasion he has utterly nailed it.

I spoke with a couple of sitting and former councilors here in the South Waikato yesterday who also totally agree with what Mr Laws has said -- and they, if anyone, should be in a position to comment based on first-hand experience.

The sad reality is that here in New Zealand we are massively over-governed and the cost of that governance, combined with an inefficient executive arm of local government, is burdening people with unsustainable costs in the form of never-ending rate-rises.

Some of this would be tolerable, if only these people were doing their jobs -- but they're not.

Here in Tokoroa right now, the council is planning to turn a local reserve into a mix of social and "affordable" housing. A public consultation process (as required by law) was undertaken and the "no" submissions outnumbered the "yes" ones by a factor of three to one, clearly indicating the position of the community on this matter. Surely, in a functional democracy, that should have been an end to the proposal -- but no.

This council has hired expensive consultants to put the case for the housing plans they've come up with and after the community had their say, those consultants and members of the executive came back with responses that serve to dismiss the concerns that the public had raised.

Unfortunately, those responses are, in most cases, completely wrong and misleading. However, the way the system is structured, the community is now given no opportunity to challenge the veracity what these consultants and staff have told councilors. It seems that even though this is supposed to be a consultation and interaction with the community, the consultants get the final say with no right of reply.

This is just one of the reasons that so many decisions made by councilors are in direct conflict with the stated desire of the communities they allegedly serve and why so many projects go off the rails around here -- to the cost of ratepayers and residents.

The system is flawed and seems designed to give the illusion that the public are being listened to whilst ensuring that their concerns can be discounted on the word of those who actually have no stake in the outcome. In the case of this recent project in Tokoroa, neither the consultant nor the member of the executive team leading things even live in the district.

Right now I'm making a video that refutes the responses of the executive and their consultants with evidence and proof that they are wrong. This video will be sent to all concilors and published publicly for everyone to see. Will it force councilors to challenge what they're being told by these paid employees with no stake in the outcome?

I strongly doubt it but at least their folly will be on public record for everyone to see and then perhaps the public will demand a better system -- or perhaps the complete ousting of the very form of local government that Michael Laws so accurately described in his video.

And tomorrow I'll try very hard to find some sci/tech stuff for you, I promise!

Carpe Diem folks!

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