Hats off to Wayne Brown

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There are many reasons to dislike Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown’s policies which generally put corporate welfare and private sector greed well ahead of the common good.

But he deserves praise for action to target and tackle “stupid” council spending such as the eye-watering sums spent on lawyers and accountants contracted from the private sector. Brown points out most of these services would be much cheaper if they were provided “in house” by lawyers, planners and accountants employed directly by the council. The excuse that councils need to employ specialists because “it’s all so complicated” are for the most part weasel-word justifications by bureaucrats largely unaccountable for spending public money.

The problems go much wider than lawyers and accountants however. They are hard-wired into the provision of all council services by local government regulations which require councils to put their work up for private tenders. This “market model” is supposed to be cheaper but any savings have been long lost after 35 years of neo-liberalism. Contracting companies of all sizes are acting like cartels with nods and winks to each other as they screw local and national government as well as the workers who actually do the jobs.

Take parks and reserves for example. Contractors will typically pay employees around $24 per hour but will charge councils $60 an hour per worker to get the job done. Yes there are other costs associated with employing staff but it has always been a crock. We are being shafted. And its impossible to prise the accounts open because the details are always withheld by bureaucrats citing “commercial sensitivity”.

The Labour government hasn’t raised even an eyebrow to suggest this problem needs fixing and yet it’s been an issue forever. The late Penny Bright referred to the “contractocracy” in local and national government which was screwing us. She was right.

The interesting thing is that this issue is being raised by a right-wing mayor. It seems Labour is determined to stay so close to the middle of the road that it is increasingly outflanked on the left by National or business interests.

Another example of this happened this week when the New Zealand Initiative – the organisation which replaced the notorious Business Roundtable – released a report saying “Universities have more managers and admin staff than academics: report”.

For 30 years tertiary educators have complained about “managerialism” – the massive increases in managers at universities based on a “low-trust” model for academics. Neo-liberalism says academics are naturally slack and unprofessional so need large numbers of managers. Labour used to complain about this once.

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The right wing is now calling this out. It’s another failure of neo-liberalism which should be highlighted and hammered by Labour but the party is trapped by political paralysis. Even the small flickers of progressive policy from David Parker on taxation have been snuffed out by the leadership.

Labour leaders are terrified to move off the white line in the middle of the road…

25 COMMENTS

  1. How long until New Labour decide the “solution” is to sell off the universities, technical colleges, the hospitals, the schools, the water system…? Slowly contract it all out, sell little pieces of it at a time, like the N.H.S. Then make sure the press barons don’t report on it, and collect huge contributions from the corporate donors.

    And is there any organised faction inside Labour that would actually oppose such a thing?

    • Hospitals and water must remain firmly in public hands. Universities? What makes you think private universities would be worse than our current unicorps? Have you any idea how dysfunctional they are? The current funding model effectively puts the students in charge, and forces the eight universities to compete with each other to enroll as many students as possible. They’re about quantity – not quality – of education. Plus they’re hamstrung with ever-increasing amounts of treaty-related BS and DEI ideology.

      Unfortunately, no political party seems interested in reinstating fees-free universities with strict academic entry requirements i.e. getting back to tertiary education focused on quality rather than quantity.

      • Now I’ve heard pretty much every example of just how utterly brainless the tory support base has become.. The rank and file of the tory (colonial privilege) party has never been anything to write home about intellectually, unless it’s to warn people about just how mindless party politics is in NZ.. And what do you think the tories have been working towards for the last thirty years? Privatising education of course, and they make no pretense of doing anything else..
        Idiots that have the memory capacity of a goldfish shouldn’t be allowed to display what amounts to a dangerous level of ignorance, and stupidity in public without having someone sensible to help them avoid making fools of themselves…
        I can’t wait to get away from this utterly munted country, and have interaction with people with an adult emotional maturity, and who are in possession of common sense, and a realistic outlook on reality… Haven’t seen more than the odd one or two on here that would survive anywhere else, much less thrive… The brain drain that the Muldoon government initiated has now shown itself to be a fait accompli… Ain’t nobody smart enough left to stop the total sellout to whoever had the money to pay… Or anyone with the spine. So the traitors on the right will get to sell us into slavery, and we will cheer them on for it… It just doesn’t get any stupider than what I’ve seen and heard since getting trapped here in the lockdown…. Even the Aussies treat NZ like a joke… It used to annoy me, but after looking at what has developed here in the last decade or so, I can fully understand why nobody takes Kiwis seriously any more… Apart from the All Blacks, we are regarded as “quaint” .. Think about that, if you are capable…

  2. Have been studying the discord between Stalin and Trotsky. Trotsky absolutely blames the failure of the 1917 revolution on the “sectarian”. What we today call the state employed PMC or privately employed consultants.

    From “Sectarianism, Centrism and the Fourth International” by Trotsky.

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1935/10/sect.htm

    “The sectarian looks upon the life of society as a great school, with himself as a teacher there. In his opinion the working class should put aside its less important matters, and assemble in solid rank around his rostrum: then the task would be solved.”

    They become the emperor class and display all the arrogance of a Simon Wilson.

    “The sectarian lives in a sphere of ready made formulas. As a rule life passes him by without noticing him; but now and then he receives in passing such a fillip as makes him turn 180 degrees around his axis, and often makes him continue on his straight path, only … in the opposite direction. Discord with reality engenders in the sectarian the need to constantly render his formulas more precise. This goes under the name of discussion. To a Marxist discussion is an important but a functional instrument of the class struggle. To the sectarian discussion is a goal in itself. However, the more that he discusses all the more do the actual tasks escape him. The sectarian sees an enemy in everyone who attempts to explain to him that an active participation in the workers’ movement demands a constant study of objective conditions, and not haughty bulldozing from the sectarian rostrum. ”

    and most importantly

    “For analysis of reality the sectarian substitutes intrigue, gossip, and hysteria.”

    • Yes John, I agree and have said so myself for the last 35 years.

      “If you cant manage something yourself, where is the logic in assuming, you can employ someone else to manage people themselves for cheaper”. Neo Liberal capitalism was a crock from the very beginning and now it has become such a bloated tick it is draining the lifeblood from the country.

  3. Yes Mayor Brown doing what he promised,which is rare in New Zealand politics.
    Well done Mayor Brown.

  4. Great article. Wayne Brown is clear-eyed enough to see (and address) a problem that LINO is blind to. Good God – a decision based on evidence rather than ideology!

  5. ” And is there any organised faction inside Labour that would actually oppose such a thing? ”

    Short answer NO.

  6. Yup. He has exposed the wrought that has been going on for decades!
    Operational costs blowouts year on year leading to a massive unrepayable $12.2b of debt that cost half of all the rates collected annually.
    Pet shitty projects from the wealthy parts of town who demand gentrification, now called regeneration in their areas and burbs on their borders to make a capital gain on their other properties in those surrounding areas.
    Overpriced underused cycle lanes that are hardly used by the masses.
    Rogue employees in charge of CCOs with massive conflicts of interest, such as the chairman Paul Majurey of Eke Panuku. 27 businesses+ in finance, development, development partnerships with private developers, iwi conflicts of interest when it comes to the disposal of council properties. A long long list of conflicts of interest but the CEO and Co just look the other way and cover his back. I wonder why?

    Brownie is exposing some of this but he is picking and choosing what he exposes. I suspect his rich mates are beneficiaries of some of his work.

  7. ” We are being shafted. And its impossible to prise the accounts open because the details are always withheld by bureaucrats citing “commercial sensitivity”.

    I said the same thing with regards to the often cited commercial sensitivity. Just ask Idiot Savant at NO Right Turn about how LINO and their mates in the public service make it incredibly difficult to source information under the O.I.A. and how the Chief Ombudsman is now deliberately a toothless bureaucrat Also add the privacy act which serves as another hiding place for these financial gangsters.

    ” Police declined to provide that information ( homeless in Motels ), citing privacy reasons and commercial interests. ”

    Isn’t it so typical of the times we live in that all someone has to do when being asked for information that is in the public interest to expose it all of a sudden its commercial sensitivity. The privacy act has become a joke as the only people it protects are the ones who want to continue to behave with no credibility or exposure for their dodgy doings or supress information.

    Time and again commercial sensitivities let the corporate or high powered organisation a licence to like the most corporates and government organisations in this little tax haven continue to behave without any scrutiny.

    The NZ Police are more and more becoming a private Police force who don’t enforce the law on behalf of the public but now act as agents to protect commercial and business interests.

    The playing field has become so unbalanced in favour of neo liberal interests.

    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2023/07/31/police-actively-hide-social-disaster-of-kettling-homeless-in-hotels-john-campbells-shocking-rehab-journalis

    http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2023/06/more-departmental-interference.html

    http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2023/05/the-most-open-and-transparent.html

    http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2023/08/more-public-service-contempt-for.html

  8. ” We are being shafted. And its impossible to prise the accounts open because the details are always withheld by bureaucrats citing “commercial sensitivity”.

    I said the same thing with regards to the often cited commercial sensitivity. Just ask Idiot Savant at NO Right Turn about how LINO and their mates in the public service make it incredibly difficult to source information under the O.I.A. and how the Chief Ombudsman is now deliberately a toothless bureaucrat Also add the privacy act which serves as another hiding place for these financial gangsters.

    ” Police declined to provide that information ( homeless in Motels ), citing privacy reasons and commercial interests. ”

    Isn’t it so typical of the times we live in that all someone has to do when being asked for information that is in the public interest to expose it all of a sudden its commercial sensitivity. The privacy act has become a joke as the only people it protects are the ones who want to continue to behave with no credibility or exposure for their dodgy deceptions or supress information.

    Time and again commercial sensitivities let the corporate or high powered organisation a licence to like the most corporates and government organisations in this little tax haven continue to behave without any scrutiny.

    The NZ Police are more and more becoming a private Police force who don’t enforce the law on behalf of the public but now act as agents to protect commercial and business interests.

    The playing field has become so unbalanced in favour of neo liberal interests.

    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2023/07/31/police-actively-hide-social-disaster-of-kettling-homeless-in-hotels-john-campbells-shocking-rehab-journalis

    http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2023/06/more-departmental-interference.html

    http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2023/05/the-most-open-and-transparent.html

    http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2023/08/more-public-service-contempt-for.html

  9. Well said John.

    There’s the reek of corruption leaking out of 135 Albert Street. My peripheral involvement with the council often brings up curious instances of what appear to be very dodgy tendering processes, and building consents issued where they shouldn’t. In some cases, these are brought to the attention of management but never seem to result in an inquiry. From my previous corporate experience this tells me the rot goes near to the top.

    At the other end of the spectrum there is just a lot of silly, poor value spending. How much would you expect to pay for road speed bumps? How does 300K a pop sound?

    The council is also badly overstaffed, having more than doubled its headcount since the amalgamation. My interactions indicate that it operates as a series of silos who are in competition with each other, and internal processes that are so byzantine that they can’t get out of their own way, although some of this may be driven by our absurd RMA law. (You know it’s fucked up when Panuku sues its own council and costs the ratepayers a million dollars in legal fees!)

    • Fiefdoms it sounds like Andrew. I remember hearing that word when I had some cancer treatment about the working of the hospital – how each department was trying to get more funds competing against each other. It seems that this has been a long time practice but has become excessive and fractionating.

  10. “Labour leaders are terrified to move off the white line in the middle of the road…”
    ‘Leaders’ ! They wouldn’t know leadership if it bit them on the arse with a lawyer and an accountant present.
    More than forty years ago Labour was in its death throes as a politic which became too close to the national party unraveling and that’s really what all this tedious shit’s all about.
    The National Party went too often to the free and easy farmer money trough to find themselves half way home and running out of gas. So what to do, Aye Boys?
    The National party would have lounged about getting drunk in exclusive clubs laying bare their options with cling-On labour traitors invited along to share in the Glenmorangie and to spitball plots.
    Spitball https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spitball
    As digi-tech and that there interweberie thing ga majigery became ever more difficult to manoeuvre around and within, unlike flammable paper letters, documents, no-trace-left faxes etc new plans had to be laid.
    Who was the Natzo’s ‘leader’ when Lange while Lange became Prime Minister of Labour? That’s where the focus needs to be.
    Well, looky here. It was the mighty Pig, until 1984. Well, well, well. Ol Bob, aye. Dirty Bob was press-photographed scuttling across the tarmac with a brief case fresh back from Switzerland with his numbered Swiss bank account. https://teara.govt.nz/en/diagram/33887/national-party-leaders
    Pig and trough. How ironic.
    So it was Pig who sent roger douglas into Labour…! Oh my God. It’s all starting to make chilling sense.
    Roger left Labour as the hollowed-out husk of a white-line-clinging thing. A Zombie party which sold off farmer money paid for infrastructure and assets and now there’s no money left!
    That’s why the tattered old G-String Wayne Brown’s freaking out and getting all conservative with what was once a seemingly endless supply of free, exports swindled, foreign-exchange farmer earned money. If we’re down to a few sheep per head of population and our markets for milk solids dries up as a consequence of a looming short man’s hissy fits pulling in China to turn old Mafia Man biden’s shrivelled arse into crispy bacon… Fuck! No wonder brown’s clutching at Auckland’s pathetic budget straws. And now and today, when thing’s are about to get fruity, there’s no fucking money left in the kitty because the little money titty Kitty’s gone tits up. Aye Boys?
    We’re out of money! OMG! That’s it! Brown’s desperately cost-cutting because Auckland’s a huge, glittering logical fallacy! Oh. My. God!
    And here’s me. Debt free and handsome. Good luck suckers!

    • Countryboy I remember you had to take a break earlier on – was feeling a bit tired. Spare yourself with regular breaks, you are needed to last the distance to the election and probably further.

  11. I got so carried away with writing this comment that I may have posted it twice. If so, apologies.
    “Labour leaders are terrified to move off the white line in the middle of the road…”
    ‘Leaders’ ! They wouldn’t know leadership if it bit them on the arse with a lawyer and an accountant present.
    More than forty years ago Labour was in its death throes as a politic which became too close to the national party unraveling and that’s really what all this tedious shit’s all about.
    The National Party went too often to the free and easy farmer money trough to find themselves half way home and running out of gas. So what to do, Aye Boys?
    The National party would have lounged about getting drunk in exclusive clubs laying bare their options with cling-On labour traitors invited along to share in the Glenmorangie and to *spitball plots.
    *Spitball https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spitball
    As digi-tech and that there interweberie thing ga majigery became ever more difficult to manoeuvre around and within, unlike flammable paper letters, documents, no-trace-left faxes etc, new plans had to be laid.
    Who was the Natzo’s ‘leader’ when Lange became Prime Minister of Labour? That’s where the focus needs to be.
    Well, looky here. It was the mighty Pig, until 1984. Well, well, well. Ol Bob, aye. Dirty Bob was press-photographed scuttling across a tarmac here with a brief case fresh from Switzerland with his numbered Swiss bank account. https://teara.govt.nz/en/diagram/33887/national-party-leaders Pig and trough. How ironic.
    So it was Pig who sent roger douglas into Labour…! Oh my God. It’s all starting to make chilling sense.
    Roger left Labour as the hollowed-out husk of a white-line-clinging thing. A Zombie party which sold off farmer money paid for infrastructure and assets under strict instructions and now there’s no money left! ( Unless you’re one of the 14 multi-billionaires, or one of the 3118 multi-millionaires with wealth in excess of $50 mil each who, no doubt at all, set the now four foreign owned banks on us to steal $180.00 a second in NET, I repeat, in NET profits. )
    That’s why the tattered old G-String that’s Wayne Brown’s freaking out and getting all conservative with what was once a seemingly endless supply of free, exports swindled, foreign-exchange farmer earned money found being laundered through Auckland. If we’re down to a few sheep per head of population and our markets for milk solids dries up as a consequence of a looming short man’s hissy fits while pulling in China to turn old Mafia Man biden’s shrivelled arse into crispy bacon… Fuck! No wonder brown’s clutching at Auckland’s pathetic budget straws. And now and today, when thing’s are about to get fruity, there’s no fucking money left in the kitty because the little money titty Kitty’s gone tits up. Aye Boys?
    We’re out of money! OMG! That’s it! We have a very, very, very, very serious cash flow problem looming! Brown’s desperately cost-cutting because Auckland’s a huge, glittering logical fallacy money pit! Oh. My. God!
    And here’s me. Debt free and handsome. Good luck suckers!

  12. Yes, Penny Bright – her name should be shining, glowing in our memories. Glad you mentioned her. The little person trying to bring the machine to account. This was in NZ. And it is a machine even if it isn’t made of steel.

    There are heroes that stick to mind FTTT. Trying to stop the unacceptable. Young Rachel somebody run down deliberately by a bulldozer no doubt under contract, to the Israeli gummint. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Corrie

    I think only a deep financial depression that knocks the blocks off the financial ice mountain will suffice to stop the business and finance bulldozer. But then the cure may be worse than the disease for us all. But it may save some other species innocent of our overweening ambitions to HAVE MORE or IT ALL no matter who suffers; the externalities.

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