Dr Michael Bassett

Dr Michael Bassett

Newspaper Columns

The Herald does it AGAIN


Yesterday the Prime Minister implied on Newstalk ZB that the Herald's stories about an Auckland "lockout" of citizens from decision-making in the Super City, were bunkum. He defended the creation of 7 Council Controlled Organisations for the new city, pointing out that the existing councils have 40 of them at present.

He said:

"A council-controlled organization recognizes that there is a commercial element as a general rule to what is taking place and there's a need for directors that do have independence from the politicians if you like. That's not a new structure.

"In a practical sense the council actually sets the direction for how that CCO will operate, it actually appoints those directors and it has the right to remove the chairman and directors like we do with the Crown entities".

All common sense, one would have thought. Elected people set the plans after democratic input. Elected people choose the directors, and expect them to carry out the council's and the public's policy. If the directors don't do so, they get fired. The elected council proposes, and it disposes. It has greater freedom than elected people now have when dealing with bureaucrats. And the buck ultimately stops with the Council.

When he reported the Prime Minister's comments in the Herald this morning, Bernard Orsman conveniently forgot to quote Key's precise words. Why? Because Orsman and his mates had already decided to label the government's plans "a lockout" for democracy, and had written a story claiming that CCOs are made up of "largely unelected boards of business people" and are "far removed from the accountability and transparency norms of local government". Orsman didn't want the Prime Minister ruining his politically-inspired story! So, appalling journalist that he is, he simply ignored what the PM had said.

And the Herald let him do it! Has that paper no shame?