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Council matters


The contributor who goes by the name of “Comments Please” is quite right in suggesting (asking) that we stop with the “happy clappy activity” and “self indulgence” of the banter that has been going on. It’s fun – or can be - and provides light relief from the serious task of trying to reform council – and it may even be a form of avoidance behaviour - but it gets us nowhere.

However, CP’s suggestion that consultants henceforth be banned and a motion in council to that effect be put, is fraught with complexities. If the required expertise is not available in-house and the task at hand simply must be done, then, logically, it will be necessary to engage external expertise.

This enormous and pervasive problem, of in-house expertise not being available, exists right across the public sector. Decades ago, when the farming out of many of the functions of government agencies took off, with the accompanying retrenchment of thousands of skilled government staff, consultants en mass came into vogue – as they are today. Consultants have become engaged in tasks that, on the whole, were previously undertaken in-house as a matter of course. As a result, government staff, from federal to state to local government, spend a lot of time writing briefs for consultants, meeting with them and managing their reports. That is the job of many of them. And, of course, the costs of engaging consultants is many times greater than if the work had been able to be undertaken in-house. This ‘transformation’ has been a disaster of high costs and inefficiencies. Just look at the cost of privatising energy generation and supply as one stand out example. Privatisation certainly has its place but there many areas in which it has no place at all.

So, before we can put CP’s motion forward, there is the need for a counter transformation, of across-the-board, in-house training and up-skilling. But who would initiate such a move? This is possibly a question for a consultant to answer.

It would, however, be good to hear from people on just what motions they would like to see passed by council: the essential changes that they see need for.

Unless irresistibly provoked, I will in future (do my best to) refrain from the banter. But before I give it up completely, I must say that you, Jeff, have confused “dog park” with “dog beach” (the differences are significant) along with your confused and extraordinarily flawed use of statistics. Maybe we should spare the readership and catch up over a coffee.

On the Citizens’ Jury report, that has already been ‘tabled’, at the 13 December 2016 meeting. It is councillors’ response to the report that we can expect at the next meeting. Individual responses will be most interesting, I am sure.

And to finish this brief CM, I have been corrected in wrongly stating that the tea break at meetings was introduced by Ferg Thomson. I should have said “re-introduced”.


#PeterCormick #Opinion #latest #Weekly

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