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GUEST EDITORIAL - Who makes the decisions?

By Trevor Amundsen.

A recent event has got me to start thinking about the question posed above, who does make the decisions that can have such an effect on us, either as individuals or as a group. The decisions I refer to are the political decisions made at either a National or Regional level. Before discussing the event that started this train of thought let me give you some examples.

My company works in software development, specialising in development and sale of software to Logistics entities, Transport and Warehousing companies in the main. I have been working in this area for over 40 years, so I guess that makes me experienced, I don’t become old until I retire fully. About twelve years ago we were approached by a Government Ministry that required a system to manage their fleet of vehicles, over 500 of them. We went through the sales process and were told that our proposal was being put forward to Cabinet for sign off. A month or so passed and then we received the call we had been waiting for; Cabinet had approved our proposal and the project could get underway.

I made my way down to Wellington as quickly as I could to have the contract signed off. Sitting around the table with the contract out for signing I was then told that the Purchasing Officer would need to sign this. I was a bit taken aback and questioned the need as Cabinet had approved the project; only to be told that Cabinet approval was good, but if the Purchasing Officer doesn’t agree with it the project will not proceed. Their hands were tied. The Purchasing Officer was always too busy to see or talk to me and we never did get that Contract signed off. Made me wonder about who is the real power in Government?A similar situation occurred recently in Mercury Bay involving the Taputapuatea Spit. The Spit is managed by an agreement made between TCDC, Ngati Hei, Forest and Bird and a Local Ratepayers Group. The agreement enabled tussock planting to take place, which was a Forest and Bird Project, but no trees were to be planted. The only trees to be on the spit were the original small group at the northern end. The vistas of Mercury Bay over the spit were to be maintained and Forest and Bird could proceed. The problem was that the agreement to not have any more trees on the spit was not adhered to and so efforts were made by various people to have this rectified. This culminated in the Community Board agreeing (in late 2018 if my memory is correct) to have the offending trees removed. A period of some months was to be allowed for comment, but work was to commence on 1st April the following year at the latest.

In about May the following year, having seen no activity on the removal of offending trees and scrub, I met with the local Bureaucrat in charge of this removal who expressed his sympathy, but he had not yet heard back from all parties. I reminded him that he did not need to, the deadline had passed to which he replied he felt moral bound to wait. His hands were tied. Who is the real power in local Government?

Which brings me to the event that initiated this article, the case of Libby Reilly. I think this is to be detailed in depth elsewhere but briefly; Libby is a surfing trainer with a lot of local students but the council attempts to ban her from teaching them how to surf on Buffalo Beach. The basis of their refusal is that there is only one licence for surfing training and that is held by somebody in the Coromandel who rarely comes over here. This leads me to ask some questions.

Who decided only one person could teach surfing at Buffalo Beach. Councillors or Bureaucrats?

Who decided that the one licence for surfing teaching could be located out of town. Councillors or Bureaucrats?

Who decided that Council had the power to licence teaching activities on the water. Councillors or Bureaucrats?

When will the decision makers decide they have the authority to licence the coaching of fishing techniques?

When will the decision makers decide they have the authority to licence personal trainers who wish to jog with their clients on the beach?

The point is these Governing entities work for us. We do need rules to make this happen smoothly, but those rules should not be created unnecessarily and if created they must be created wisely. All parties must remember that our community rules are to be made by our community representatives, the bureaucratic wing’s role being administration of said rules.


Caption: Gavel.

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