When Councillor John Morrison contributed an opinion piece to the Dominion Post last week, he described Wellington as being “open for business”. Which was exactly the wording used by the Council’s CEO Kevin Lavery in his speech to the Chamber of Commerce the week before.
Good news, you may think. An aspiring mayoral candidate is on the same page as the new Chief Executive, which might bode well for Wellington’s future. But a closer reading reveals that Morrison is not only on the same page, he’s using the same words in the same order. And he didn’t stop at a single phrase.
Here’s Kevin Lavery talking to the Chamber:
“I also want to make sure that ‘open for business’ is a reality not just a slogan for WCC.”
And John Morrison the following week:
“I want to ensure that “Wellington is Open for Business” is an absolute reality not just a nice slogan slapped on City Council websites and emails.”
Morrison agrees with Mr Lavery even more emphatically on the subject of unemployment and growth. Here’s Mr Lavery’s view:
“Unemployment is high at 7.3%, incidentally higher than the area of England I recently left. There are very few cranes on the skyline and growth is at a standstill.”
And the peculiar echo that is John Morrison’s opinion piece:
“Unemployment is high at 7.3 per cent, there are very few projects on the go in town at present and growth is literally at a complete standstill.”
Mr Lavery and Mr Morrison are also in near-complete agreement on a comparison with Auckland. Here’s the Chief Executive:
“We don’t want the unadulterated growth of Auckland here in the Capital. We want managed growth, with a growing tax base, allowing us to invest sensibly to make Wellington a real Living City. This is good for business, good for our environment, good for culture, and most importantly good for our people.”
And here’s the Councillor dutifully following in his footsteps:
“We don’t want the unruly growth of Auckland; we want managed growth with a growing tax base, allowing us to invest sensibly to make Wellington a really great capital city. This is good for business, good for the environment, good for culture and most importantly good for our people.”
Even the phraseology sounds remarkably similar. Here’s the Chief Executive:
“We also need to shift the public debate from grant to investment, from problems to solutions, from dependency to self sufficiency.”
All laudable goals … which Cr Morrison agrees with so strongly that he repeats them:
“We must shift our focus from dependency to self-sufficiency, from problems to solutions, from hand-outs to investment.”
John Morrison’s devotion to the new CEO’s written style is all the more impressive given that he wasn’t a fan of appointing Mr Lavery in the first place, having voted to keep the old Chief Executive and then declining to turn up to Mr Lavery’s interview with the Council.
But perhaps it’s not so much a meeting of minds on the fine details of the city and its future; perhaps Cr Morrison simply recognizes that plagiarism is an easier path than genuine creativity. And come October, Wellingtonians can decide whether a mayor needs a greater range of skills than merely the ability to copy and paste.