It might be thought that not spending ratepayers’ money would be welcomed as a good thing and there would be much rejoicing.
Auckland Council accordingly should be applauded for having managed to save much of the budget earmarked for certain purposes.
Nah. Not when one of those special purposes is positive discrimination (the PC way of talking about giving an ethnic group funding privileges).
Radio NZ says the council has managed to spend only a fraction of the budget earmarked for Maori initiatives. according to the board representing Maori in Auckland.
The board is one of those unelected outfits that now adorn our local government structures and governance arrangements.
It’s called the Independent Maori Statutory Board, a grand-sounding name with a somewhat anti-democratic purpose.
This board is a consequence of a very curious modern way of interpreting the Treaty of Waitangi.
It is also a consequence of The Boss’s getting a rush of blood to the head and agreeing with the Maori Party that indigenous people should officially be regarded as “special”.
When The Government agrees you are special, it is reasonable that you will expect to be accorded special treatment.
This no doubt explains why the unelected members of the Independent Maori Statutory Board are greatly miffed about the way the elected members of the Auckland Council are dishing out ratepayers’ money.
They have decided they should be flexing even more of their special muscle.
And so (according to Radio NZ):
The Independent Maori Statutory Board will on Thursday release a report by KPMG which shows Auckland Council spent only 25 percent of last year’s $4 million budget for Maori outcomes.
The report signals a more assertive stance by the board, created by the legislation which amalgamated Auckland’s eight councils in 2010, and whose members sit on most council committees.
Board chair David Taipari said not only did the council three years ago set spending for Maori outcomes far below where the board thought it should be, but it then failed to spend most of it.
“The question is priorities,” Mr Taipari said.
“That’s my question on behalf of the board to the council. Where is Maori in their priority list.
“Where I look at it now, it’s on the bottom rung. That’s a question council decision makers need to answer, where is it for them on their list, or is it where Maori have always been put – basically in second class.”
They have been given privileged positions on this authority, yet claim to have a second-class position?
Let’s hear more from the disgruntled head of this outfit.
Mr Taipari said previous work between the board and council identified priorities, and it was unclear why the money had not been able to be spent.
These included upgrading marae, which he said were community facilities, community housing on Maori land, and developing a significant annual maori event in Auckland.
The KPMG report proposed a plan of action running over the next year to get greater detail on council spending, review the current level of budgets, and lock those into the council’s next 10-year Long Term Plan, which will be finalised next year.
Radio NZ reminds us that the board and council have had a rocky relationship over the past three and a half years.
The board early on threatened court action to ensure the council met its funding obligations to the board’s work.
Yep. This would have involved ratepayers’ money being spent on costly legal proceedings trying to establish how ratepayers’ money should be spent.
It takes a special way of thinking to come up with that way of flexing your muscle.
Alf can see why this board isn’t being given an easy ride. A small group of councillors remain opposed to having board members sitting and voting on council committees.
These must be old-fashioned democrats who believe the governing should be done by elected representatives of the public, elected on a one-person-one-vote basis.
Too late. We reduced that to bollocks the moment we went along with race-based co-governance arrangements.
A measure of the unelected board’s triumph will be when Maori get a much bigger slice of the cake.
Mr Taipari said the KPMG report would form the platform for the future relationship between the board and the council.
“Until these funds and investments are realised, then the board will never have achieved its purpose,” he said.
“Success will be measured by the spend and investment in annual plans for the next 20 years.”
And then – we may suppose – Maori no longer will be second-class citizens.
Mind you, Alf finds it a tad difficult to grasp the claim that Maori are second-class citizens now.
So far as he knows, there is nothing to bar them from or deny them entitlement to the vast array of public services and facilities on which the Auckland Council spends ratepayers’ money. This being so, they get their fair share of this expenditure.
So the money being claimed by the unelected board for Maori spending is additional spending to provide services and facilities in addition to those that Maori have always benefited from as members of the public like everybody else.
Even if only a small chunk of this extra money has been spent, it gives a new meaning to second-class.