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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Keeping our eye on the prize

Right across New Zealand and particularly here in the Wairarapa we are experiencing infrastructure upgrades, repairs, and maintenance – significant investment by both taxpayers and ratepayers – at levels not seen for many, many years.

This is partly driven by under-investment and catch-up expenditure from both govt and Councils, partly by necessary responses to more frequent and extreme weather events, partly to meet higher standards [environmental, climate change, emissions, regulatory, compliance, etc.] and partly due to demands and expectations from a growing population.

The pace at which change is being signalled and delivered is challenging. It can feel as though the tsunami of government-driven reforms is overwhelming for our communities [Three Waters, Road to Zero, KiwiRail crossing closures, RMA reform, Local Govt reform, and so on] where the ’Solution’ is marketed directly to the public, without clear evidence and information available to support the proposed changes or articulating the actual ‘Problem’ that needs addressing.

And when the people aren’t fully behind the proposal, then things never go smoothly.

Carterton District Council continues to maximize every opportunity – however limited – to advocate, give feedback and submit to the appropriate agencies responsible for carrying out the government’s agenda, wherever that impacts our district and people.

But Council’s influence is often restricted to specific input only, sometimes not required or requested, and more recently, Council or even public permission is deemed unnecessary to the project purpose.

It is important to stay positive and keep our ‘eye on the prize’.

While we can be frustrated and inconvenienced with the recent Waka Kotahi SH2 road works and speed reductions, incensed by the KiwiRail crossing closure proposals, confused by the myriad of 3 Waters/ Affordable Water reforms, and oblivious to the RMA, Spatial Planning Act et al reviews before Parliament, we shouldn’t lose sight of the aspirational vision and goals, which is greater efficiency, effectiveness, and economy. That remains to be seen. As a taxpayer and a ratepayer, why wouldn’t I want that too?

Councillors understand that there are often competing agendas, differing views, and conflicting expectations, and we have to manage these from every angle – govt and its agencies above us, regional and local govt partners alongside us, and those we have a responsibility to serve – our residents and ratepayers.

Because for every person pushing back against proposed rail crossing closures, others are awaiting newer, faster trains, more timetabled services, and greater convenience for us all as commuters and travellers.

For every person avoiding the state highway right now and transferring the impact to nearby routes, other residents and road users are reluctantly adjusting and managing their safety and lifestyles to accommodate this unexpected intrusion.

And for every person railing against Three Waters, there are whole communities who cannot afford the long-term costs of providing safe and reliable essential services to their residents, and some who have first-hand experience of sickness or death when things go wrong in practice that in theory should not have.

Councils’ role is to work constructively at every opportunity, be sensible and respectful, focus on the facts, evidence, and logic, and be clear about what is best for our district overall. That’s why we were elected and why our people do what they do on your behalf.

I want to assure you that each of the Wairarapa councils, their representatives, and staff are meeting these challenges head-on, collaborating and sharing resources and expertise, advocating for our region and communities, and aiming to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Thanks for your support. It is greatly appreciated.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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