Sitting around a bigger table – amalgamation, or not

I was recently asked what  my position was on amalgamation?

The short answer is that the community has already spoken (74.31% opposed amalgamation), so a new Council now needs to get in behind that decision and make it work.

But at the time that amalgamation was being considered, I was skeptical of the benefits being advanced. Especially in light of overseas experience and empirical research (see http://epress.anu.edu.au/agenda/015/01/mobile_devices/ch05s04.html).

At the same time, Wellington was also considering amalgamation and interestingly one of the official options being advanced was a separation of urban and rural communities (ie excluding the Wairarapa) – a very similar divide between Nelson and Tasman (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/9004929/No-benefit-in-merging-councils-report-finds).

There are also questions of the democratic process being degraded – a criticism of the Auckland experience.

Finally, there is a trend post amalgamation to focus future investment on the main centre of the region, which would have been Nelson, not Richmond.

So, the short answer is I did not support amalgamation at the time.

See http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/9017612/Councils-get-along-famously, http://epress.anu.edu.au/agenda/015/01/mobile_devices/ch05s04.html, http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/9004929/No-benefit-in-merging-councils-report-finds

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One comment

  1. Dean

    I notice in the picture accompanying the article celebrating how well the two councils work together that the Tasman side of the table was almost empty. I assume our counselors had more pressing issues to attend – perhaps designing the next council building.

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