Monday, December 7, 2015

"Judith Collins Is An Unaccountable Monster. It Believes It Is Outside The Law": On Collins, the SuperCity, Democratic Solution-Making & Accountability

Over the weekend, disgraced former Justice and Police Minister Judith Collins claimed the Independent Maori Statutory Board tied to Auckland's disastrous SuperCity arrangement was an "unaccountable monster" which believed it was outside the law.

Given Collins' own personal record with being an unaccountable monster who evidently believed herself to be outside the law during, for instance, the Oravida scandal ... I guess she'd know, wouldn't she. It's been her standard M.O. for pretty much the last half-decade.

Let's remember. This is the same former Minister who:

- Used her position as part of the Government to lobby a Chinese border-control official for preferential access to a premium export market for her husband's company;

- Lied about it repeatedly;

- Attacked a Parliamentary Press Gallery journalist for reporting on the scandal, by revealing confidential information on national television to a rival network - while threatening the Press Gallery generally by claiming she could "recall all sorts of things" about them;

- And was forced to resign after a string of allegations came to light about Collins working illegally or improperly with right-wing attack-whale Cameron Slater in order to get back at political enemies or undermine public officials.

Despite all of this, she refused to resign as an MP ... had to be pressured hugely (including the infamous "final final warning" from John Key) into resigning as a Minister ... and now sets her sights as her number one goal on getting back into Cabinet.

How's *that* for an "unaccountable monster" who seemingly has no compunctions about operating outside the bounds of legality and propriety.

For the record, I do think there is an issue with any organ of local governance picking a fight with the Ombudsman. I also have an issue with unelected statutory boards generally ... which is why it's so peculiar that Collins in the same speech talked up the role of unelected public-private partnerships - like the mess we've got down at the Ports of Auckland - as having a greater contribution to make when it comes to service provision and asset ownership. I note those aren't particularly accountable to the public, either - yet I cannot seem to recall a whiff of opprobrium from Collins meted out towards these quasi-privatized-in-all-but-name shambolic walking imbroglios. Either she wants democratic and accountable public institutions and amenities ... or she doesn't. (And given what happened with, say, Environment Canterbury - I think it's a fair enough assumption to state that National definitively *doesn't*)

But let's remember: who gave us the SuperCity structure in the first place? This is what this is ultimately about, after all.

Who let slip the dogs of rampantly unaccountable local governance into our midst way back in 2010?

Why, it was the ACT Party under then-Minister of Local Governance Rodney Hide - and the National Party which Judith Collins was then part of the preening upper echelons of.

So really, what's happening here, is the two architect-parties of the present Auckland local governance quagmire have gotten together to po-facedly decry the natural and eminently predictable results of the local governance legislation which THEY created and then implemented half a decade ago.

At the time, a certain Winston Peters cropped up to warn National and/or Aucklanders as to the mess they were about to get into with exactly these issues - but sadly, as with most things our very own political prognostication equivalent to Cassandra comes out with ... the Government just simply didn't want to know.

I would have said that this sort of blame-dodging by National and ACT was rather rich ... but considering the nature of the two parties in question, there's very little about them that *isn't*.

When it comes to local governance in Auckland ... they broke it, they're outraged about it, and the only purported "solutions" Collins et co can muster up to propose (i.e. "part-privatize the street-lighting to raise 0.125% of the revenue Auckland needs") is to break it further.

All in all, this entire "SuperCity" fiasco has been one drawn-out half-decade-long Tour de Farce from National & Friends.

There are serious and legitimate issues with local governance in Auckland. It just seems rather curious how National and ACT only started piping up about some of them once it became clear that they'd be unable to beat Phil Goff for the Mayoralty.

P.S. How is ACT still a large enough "party" to warrant having a "regional conference". It wasn't so long ago they were so desperate for numbers to show to the cameras at their conventions that they'd bus in Young Nats from as far afield as Wellington to make up the seat-warming numbers as part of an illusory show of strength.

Is ACT's "Auckland South" grouping just what it calls a half-a-dozen members going out to the Manurewa Golf Course...?

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