Merger plans fail to unify

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QUESTIONS, questions, questions. So many of them have become part of the debate on the shape of any local government reform for the Wairarapa it makes the head spin.

And the fact so few can be answered with any certainty means those who are attempting to curry favour for their own particular point of view are struggling to gain any sort of momentum.

Most of the publicity, of course, has centred on the proposal being touted by the three district councils that would have them joining as a unitary authority.

I say of course because when you have the three mayors regularly making joint statements they are bound to be deemed by the media to be of significant importance to publish.

Pushing the same barrow time and again can, however, also have a negative effect in that it can create an impression that a certain course will be taken come hell or high water. That minds have become completely closed to the sentiments of others.

And there are always those who are so suspicious of politicians that when they see our leaders banding together they immediately think they are up to no good, no matter how sensible their approach might be.

The mayors are not alone with this dilemma though, the same sort of challenge is confronting those - and there are a growing number - who actually see being part of a Wellington super city concept being a safer bet than the unitary authority.

These people include farmers, environmentalists and business folk whose opinions are, in reality, probably very genuine but who have to constantly face up to the accusation that they are a "vested interest".

About the only sure thing about this whole debate in fact is that whatever proposal is finally put before the Local Government Commission - and there are more options than the two mentioned here - it will have a sizeable number of detractors.

* Gary Caffell is a Masterton district councillor.


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