Local body voters are rather like Christians, a slowly declining minority. And for much the same reasons; a lack of faith and doubts in the relevance of the rituals involved.
As a political tragic from way back, I have just ripped open the official envelope and started wading through the "Vote for the Auckland you love" information booklet within. By the time I hit the list of 27 candidates seeking the 7 spots on the Auckland District Health Board, any love was long gone.
And when I realised I had to rank them in order of choice, from 1 to 27, using some quaint form of proportional voting, I gave up. It was not just too hard. It was a farce.
Admittedly, commonsense had persuaded like-minded candidates on the left and right to form tickets to give electors a fighting chance. But to then require voters to rank mainly unknown people, in order of preference, was a mockery of the democratic system. And waste of my time.
Of course it's not just the voting system for the health boards that is a joke, it's the whole set up. With the whole health system funded and run by central government, about the only function health boards seem to perform, is to take the blame when new hospital buildings spring a leak, or underfunding leads to long queues of cranky citizens demanding new hips or cancer-fighting radiation therapy.
To a somewhat lesser extent, central government also makes the big decisions about what goes on in Auckland, which rather lessens the powers of the council we're about to elect. For example, it is Transport Minister Phil Twyford who's both champion and paymaster of the crazy plan to run trams from the CBD down Dominion Rd to the airport and out West to Kumeu.
And it's the Government's Santa Claus for the provinces, Shane Jones, who is funding the campaign to close Auckland's rate-payer-owned port and transfer the business, with no talk of compensation, to his own North Auckland political stomping ground.
Similarly, when it comes to town planning, it's central government often calling the shots about Auckland's future.
And regardless of who is sitting around the council table, our rates seem to just keep going up. Over the weekend I dug out my first rate demand from the new Auckland Council. It totalled $1,527.92. That was for the year ending June 30, 2011. Today, nine years on, it's soared to $4.346.26. And if the incumbent mayor is re-elected on Saturday – which seems probable – he's promising to increase that by 3.5 per cent a year for the next three.
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By habit, I have voted, but can understand why a majority will not.
Some commentators have tried to paint the mass non-vote of recent local elections as a form of protest against the system. But that's to suggest the non-voters have actually taken a positive act against the system. I fear it's worse than that. Far from a cry against the system, it's just a don't care yawn.
Voter turnout in Auckland in 2013 was 36 per cent. In 2016, 38.5 per cent. I blame the politicians. Both the central government politicians who ensured the Auckland Council would be a neutered beast. But Auckland's local politicians are equally culpable. They're still to group up in teams of like-minded individuals, or dear I say it, "political parties" that we, the voters, can relate to.
Bernard Orsman's "how they voted" scorecard in Monday's Herald showed how councillors from the left and right were all over the place, when voting on key issues over the past term. This comes as little surprise given that a decade after the super city was created, politicians on both the left and the right, have failed to create a disciplined party structure for their new parliament. A system that will ensure they will be held accountable for the election platform they have were elected on. And a system that will keep in check the "independent" mayor and the wayward "council controlled" agencies.
Perhaps when Aucklanders see their "parliament" functioning as it should, they might start voting for it.