Time for a local message for national politicians?

In the sidelines of Britain’s frenetic commentary on its Brexit vote has been a debate about the “regions” and their councils. Was London, the capital, too up-itself? Is Wellington?

Local government experts Peter McKinlay and Adrienne von Tunzelmann in their monthly commentary on Thursday quoted Britain’s New Local Government Network director Simon Parker on “the deep social divisions” the referendum exposed: “London sticks out like sore thumb, an island of Remainers in a sea of Brexit.”

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Democracy is about the people, not the leaders

If David Cameron had wanted a guide to the risk he was running in putting Britain’s future with Europe to a referendum, he might have scanned Jim Bolger’s mistake with MMP.

If Australians need help to get over their macho belief that only a Prime Minister with an absolute majority can rule effectively, they could ask Helen Clark and John Key how to do real policy when in a minority.

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National: some big questions in the air

Imagine this coming weekend’s National party conference without John Key, Bill English, Steven Joyce and Murray McCully.

Few, maybe no, delegates will. The party is buoyant, flush with funds and set on a fourth term. The short-term outlook is sunny.

But out in the world there is wind and rain: Britain’s “little England” Brexit vote, Donald Trump’s rampage and many other signs of reactions against Europe’s and the United States’ elites and their conduct of public affairs over the past 30 years.

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Lives are local

Colin James sum-up comments to Inspiring Communities conference
Wellington 22 June 2016

You are doers. I am a be-er/talker. You are insiders. I am an outsider. So I should stop now and let you get on with the “messy” business you do, as Nichola Brehaut put it.

But perhaps I should pick up Nicola’s “messy” point. “Messy” is democratic and your disparate actions in response to the people around you are the essence of democracy. Doing things democratically, as you do, may, as Nicola also said, take a little longer but it leads to better outcomes – “hoods” can become “goods”, Stone Soup told us.

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Brexit, Trump, sub-zero bonds, China: check the mattress

On Thursday Britain will vote to leave the European Union or not. In November the United States will vote to have Donald Trump as President or not.

Either would send global shockwaves.

A rocky two years would follow a “Brexit” vote as exit terms were negotiated. It would weaken the European Union, with geopolitical implications. There would be trans-Atlantic, European and wider economic impacts.

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What’s in a house? The core of a good life

What’s in a house? A lot more than “housing”.

The political noise around “housing” has got very loud. The government looks and sounds less assured as the noise level rises.

John Key has thrown three ministers at it.

Bill English, MP for 26 years, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, is Minister Responsible for the Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZ) which rents “social housing” to the needy.

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The future is coming down the track. Will policy cope?

The government is about to bring in a bill to regulate space. Well, not exactly. It is to cover Rocket Lab’s launches of lightweight space satellites from Mahia Peninsula and comparable future innovations.

Rocket Lab’s innovation — backed by New Zealand taxpayers but now registered in the United States where it has deals with a California company aiming to land commercial craft on the moon and with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration — is to cater for a new generation of small commercial space craft.

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The Greens’ “new paradigm” and Labour’s need

Where did people fit in Thursday’s budget? As a cost. Even Bill English’s vaunted “social investment” is cast as a future cost to be avoided.

That opens space for Labour and the Greens, as they prepare to formalise their cooperation, to reframe the budget process as using people’s taxes to enhance their lives, including by reducing social inequities and building stronger ecosystems.

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A “social investment” budget, as billed

The 2016 budget is billed as a “social investment” budget. A whole section is under that title.

After seven years of stringency and more-with-less reprioritising, there is some relaxation of social and other spending — but tagged with an “investment theme” and geared to defined outcomes tested by departments’ chief science advisers.

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