by Alana Bowman
Abandoning her initial (rather uninspiring) argument to voters to support her attempt to win a fourth term as Wellington mayor ( “I have the experience!”), Kerry Prendergast has introduced a challenging new election strategy, reflecting the effect of social media and Facebook – it’s a competition for “Friends.”
Mayor Prendergast knows people, she boasts, in “the top echelon of this government” and this will ensure that Wellington will “get our share”. She is apparently unconcerned that such an elitist platform suggests that effective government depends on who you know, which is a rather broad swipe at the values of merit, democracy and transparency in good governance.
In an unguarded moment at one candidate meeting, she snapped at mayoral candidate Jack Yan that he was unaware of a planned roading project because she was talking to high-level central government people above those “at your level.”
She sets her asset of high-placed friends alongside the only fear she can admit that could ruffle the calm of the “fantastic” future she has ensured for Wellington – competing for resources against the Auckland Super City. She worries that her friends in central government will favour the Super City that they’ve imposed on unwilling Aucklanders, and warns that such favouritism could be to the detriment of Wellington. Only Mayor Prendergast can attract their top-level attention away from their new shiny toy.
Apparently, also, only she can deliver the message to “the highest echelon of this government” – that Wellington residents don’t want a super city “imposed on us”. But doesn’t she want a super city? Has she changed her mind on this, as with other issues during the last three years?
The list of changes is impressive -
- No to a fourth term.
- The indoor sports centre should be built at Centreport, not Hataitai.
- No expansion of the Johnsonville mall.
- Cutting $50 million from the city budget.
- Advocating last year that standards for earthquake strengthening be “relaxed,” but now wanting to find out “whether there are changes we can make to speed up the strengthening programme”.
- Supporting the Local Government Act allowing 35 year leases of water, yet saying at candidate meetings that water can be neither sold nor leased.
- Supporting a Basin Reserve flyover (in 2008) but telling an online survey this month that she opposes it.
Last year she told the DomPost that Wellington could have its own Super City by 2013. Now she opposes a Super City for Wellington. However in the New Zealand Herald on September 5 she said: “We need more shared services and we need to talk with one voice if we are to remain relevant.”
One voice? Whose would that be?
Alana Bowman is a Wellington resident who is also a lawyer who has practised in California.