Not dying, but resting on its laurels

by David Underwood
John Key was wrong again. Wellington is not dying. It may be resting on its laurels but it’s certainly not dying.

As I see it, any present problems are because of the way that Councillors are elected. In earlier times – and I am referring to some 25 years ago – there were no Wards as such. After the elections, the Council was effectively controlled by the local Labour Party or the local Citizens Association.

My involvement was with Citizens which was an independent group of interested Wellington citizens. We were accused of being the National Party in disguise but that was not true and Government policies and politics were not involved. We were there to work for the benefit of Wellington.

We used to raise funds for the campaign and then advertise for candidates right across the city. All applicants were interviewed and full teams were selected for Council, Hospital and Harbour Boards together with a Mayoral candidate. Policy was discussed and agreed with the candidates and the election ticket was then announced.

If Citizens won the majority of seats, the successful candidates then worked together as a team and implemented the agreed policies. I recall that Michael Fowler, now Sir Michael, used to keep the agreed policy handy and checked progress against it on a regular basis.

There was no hidden agenda and all worked together for the benefit of the City and the two Boards.

The Ward system put an end to all that and Wellington is suffering accordingly. Individual councillors need to form a group, decide on a combined policy and work to achieve it. Agree on a majority policy and then get on with its implementation.

Such a move would soon show that Wellington is not dying.

David Underwood is an accountant who lives in Kelburn.


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