Brian Rudman is a NZ Herald feature writer and columnist.

Brian Rudman: Distrust and apathy - fine bedfellows

Auckland Council wants to feel the love. Photo / Chris Gorman
Auckland Council wants to feel the love. Photo / Chris Gorman

Auckland Council has had an attack of the Mills & Boons and decided LOVE is the solution to its most pressing problem - persuading Aucklanders to get out and vote.

We should vote, the advertising simpers, "to show your love for Auckland".

Reducing the democratic process to romance novel-speak, it blathers on about Auckland being "the place where we live and the place we love," and to demonstrate our infatuation by voting.

Unfortunately, a recent survey by the Spinoff blog site suggests that "love" is not the first of the primal urges that comes to mind to most potential voters when thinking about our city.

Except, perhaps, in a "love 'em and leave 'em" way.

One in three Aucklanders confessed that in the past two years, they'd considered leaving town because of soaring house prices.

Another third said they hadn't, "but it's a good idea".

That left just a third - call them the hardcore lovers - who said they'd never considered leaving.

Could it be that this minority make up the bulk of the 36 per cent of eligible Aucklanders who bothered to vote in 2013?

This lack of love was highlighted in a $90,000 survey Auckland Council commissioned last June to measure our trust in the city organisation.

Only 17 per cent of citizens said they trusted council "to make the right decisions".

A whopping 47 per cent said they didn't. Even fewer - 15 per cent - were satisfied with council's overall performance, while 36 per cent were dissatisfied. The rest sat on the fence.

On an overall "reputation index", the organisation scored a fail mark of 45 out of 100.

The only good news for Auckland Council is that New Zealanders as a whole appear to distrust their local councils even more.

A Local Government New Zealand poll last year produced a "reputation" score for local government nationwide at an embarrassingly low 29 out of 100.

This sort of entrenched two-finger salute to local democracy suggests a last-minute plea for more love is doomed to disappoint.

Could I suggest a better approach would be to point the raised finger back at non-voters and remind them of their civic responsibility in a democracy to participate in the process.

Why?

Well, central government has already threatened to appoint commissioners to run Auckland if the unitary plan isn't to its liking.

It has done just that in Canterbury. If nothing else, it would demonstrate Auckland is not an easy push-over.

YOUR COMMUNITY, YOUR CHOICE

Monday: Auckland mayoral hopefuls share their vision
Tuesday: Waitemata
Wednesday: Albert-Eden-Roskill and Manurewa-Papakura
Thursday: Albany and Howick
Friday: Licensing trusts and DHBs
Today: All the Auckland wards, plus regional highlights, in our local body election supplement

- NZ Herald

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Brian Rudman is a NZ Herald feature writer and columnist.

Brian Rudman's first news story was for Auckland University student paper Outspoke, exposing an SIS spy on campus during the heady days of the Vietnam War. It resulted in a Commission of Inquiry and an award for student journalist of the year. A stint editing the Labour Party's start-up Auckland newspaper NZ Statesman followed. Rudman decided journalism was the career for him, but the NZ Herald and Auckland Star thought otherwise when he came job-hunting. After a year on the "hippy trail" overland to London, he spent four years on Fleet St with various British provincial papers. He then joined the Auckland Star, winning the Dulux Journalist of the Year award for coverage of the 1976 Dawn Raids against Polynesian overstayers. He has also worked on the NZ Listener, Auckland Sun, and since 1996, for the NZ Herald as feature writer and columnist. He has a BA in History and Politics.

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