Members’ Newsletter for September 2015 – Setting Up for Success

We’ve been on a journey over the past 12 months, and that journey is nearing its end. We’ve sought the views of our members and the public and restated the principles we stand for with our new “Why” statement.

The next phase of our party’s rejuvenation will be decided at the upcoming AGM in November. At the AGM we’ll need new faces, fresh blood and the passion and enthusiasm this will bring to our cause. We’ll also be debating the fundamental areas of policy that the Party needs to focus on over the next two years. These “policy themes”, and our solutions, will be what sets us apart from other parties. They will be the talismans that attract uncommitted voters to our cause and drive electoral success in 2017.

We need to have a deep understanding of the challenges that future generations of New Zealanders are facing, and will continue to face, in a world experiencing change more rapid than virtually any other period in our history. Most importantly, we must provide innovative yet practical solutions (the hallmarks of all UnitedFuture policy) to these challenges.

I urge you to contribute to these important discussions by attending our AGM. Alternatively feel free to contact me or any other member of the Board of Management with your ideas.

We’re nearing the end of one journey, but another one, both exciting and challenging, is about to begin.

Ben Rickard, UnitedFuture Party Member and Co-opted Board Member, e:benrickard@yahoo.com, m: 0275212014.

Contents

  1. Food For Thought – Why is Politics so Important?
  2. Deputy Leader’s Report – Getting Local Government Right
  3. Auckland Branch Report – A Manifesto for Auckland Council Elections
  4. Leader’s Report – A Small Party’s Positive Influence on Government
  5. Membership Report – We Need Paid Up Members to Continue Achieving Results in Government

1. Food For Thought – Why is Politics so Important?

Politics is about supporting the common good, about actioning our social and moral responsibility to help others. Politics is about our primary human duty to assist those in need. It is about ensuring we have thriving communities, and secure ones at that, that we all get access to the resources and opportunities we need and can ensure our homes, children and livelihood are protected inside our communities.

However, sometimes these duties get lost in the noise of politics. The recent public response to the Syrian refugee crisis shows me that we all can halt the noise for a moment and say what is truly the most important responsibility in politics: our primary human duty to assist those in need – at home and abroad.

What the UnitedFuture Board has been grappling with runs along those lines. What is our primary duty as a Party? What can we do to support our members, our communities? A combination of answers came to the fore:

  • making our local councils more accountable,
  • making sure our regions are represented and allowing them to decide what is best for local people,
  • making sure our outdoors, and our our access to it, is protected,
  • providing stability and security for all New Zealanders.

We’re working through what our priorities and key policies need to be, and we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Quentin Todd, Executive Board Member.

2. Deputy Leader’s Report – Getting Local Government Right

Everyone understands that transitioning from one organisational structure to another is an unsettling time for those affected by the restructure, and that the benefits promised by the change, may take a while before becoming observable.

Aucklanders live in hope that sometime soon the super-sizing of their local government arrangements will indeed live up to the promises made.

Meanwhile, the rest of New Zealand’s cities and provinces twitch nervously on the side-line, wondering who will be next. A report commissioned by Hutt City to evaluate options for the Wellington and Wairarapa regions articulated clearly that any change should:

  • Make strategic sense
  • Align communities of common interest
  • Provide solutions to local issues as well as network-wide service delivery.
  • Allow for ‘local voices’ to be heard (and democracy to continue)
  • Make economic sense

1. Improve efficiency and effectiveness
2. Allow for differing financial strategies (in terms of inter-generational equity, debt, investments, accountability & growth)

The report asked the question ‘is there an optimal size for local government?’ and concluded that there is no easy answer, as local councils function flexibly providing or managing services at many levels: households, streets, communities large and small and regionally, with high levels of consultation and communication required at each level.

Overseas research into the relationship between council size and cost-effectiveness seemed to suggest that both very small (20,000 to 80,000) and very large councils (over 250,000) were the least cost effective.

However, I think local democracy is the loser in this drive to amalgamate councils, the gap between urban and rural lifestyles will widen as provincial councillors sit as minority voices around the Council table.

Written by Judy Turner. Judy is Deputy Leader of the party and Deputy Mayor of Whakatane District Council.

3. Auckland Branch Report – A Manifesto for Auckland Council Elections

At the Auckland Branch meeting on 30 August Right Hon Peter Dunne MP opened the meeting and provided feedback on the action taking place at The Beehive.

Peter expressed disappointment at how little acknowledgement UnitedFuture receives for the successes pushed through on the Party’s behalf by Peter in Parliament. With 10 year passports set to be coming back this year, we need to ensure that UnitedFuture gets the credit it’s due thanks to Peter’s perseverance.

The bulk of the meeting then discussed the draft Manifesto for Auckland. There are key issues to discuss. You do not have to spend much time reading, watching or listening to news about Auckland to know that despite all the surveys which tell us Aucklanders what we already know, that although this is a great place to live, there is much about our city as a whole which is broken.

First, the increasing shortage of housing for rent and the runaway rising house prices. Young families unable to get on to the housing ladder and a shortage of rental properties resulting in queues of applicants and spiralling rents. The only realistic answer has been for people to move further away from the city. Further away from work and forcing an increasing number of drivers onto the same narrow commuter corridors. The result is increasing congestion, increasing the cost of getting to work and adding pollution to the environment. There’s no other choice and there could be.

Secondly, the rates. Long accepted as the best way to finance local government, the increase in property valuations resulting from the out of control rise in house prices has served to fuel rises in rates demands. This has resulted where people are struggling to meet these new demands and some people are effectively being forced from their homes. Is it really a great place to live when you are one of those being ‘financially evicted’ from homes, which sometimes may have been in families for generations, only now to find the value has outstripped ability to afford to pay to have your rubbish collected? The rating system is a broken method of finance and needs reform or replacing.

Thirdly, traffic management in Auckland is lamentable. It is as if the system is designed to prevent traffic from flowing. The only form of traffic management that is really taken seriously is the use of traffic lights. Endless series of unconnected lights, each with at least four phases, means that by the time you get a green you are likely to be caught by the next set 50 metres away, where the whole farce is repeated. Even at weekends the same conditions prevent traffic flowing even when there are few vehicles on the road. There the additional sets of lights which then get deployed following retail developments, which add to the stop go pace. Perhaps the funding of these are a condition for approval but in many circumstances they merely add another obstacle to traffic flow. As a result, traffic baulked by the lights on the arterial roads seeks ways around the blockages through residential streets, where, unfettered by the absence of traffic calming measures, many vehicles pass through at high speed in order to get round traffic jams, with little thought to the safety of children, pets or other vulnerable pedestrians who might accidentally find themselves in the way.

Fourthly, there is the inadequate public transport system. From the north the effectiveness of the bus service into town is restricted by the inadequate parking facilities available to willing commuters. With many car parks full by 7 o’clock, frustrated travellers have no other choice but to take their car. Recent attempts to penalise these drivers by large increases in car park charges is frustrating for those forced to take their cars because the public transport infrastructure is inadequate. South of the bridge the picture is no better, as cars fill the car parks early at railway stations such as Glen Innes. The railway service, with its great new trains, doesn’t serve the increasing number of people moving southward to Pokeno, Huntly and other settlements due to the spiralling house prices.

Five key policies are under review for finalising in October prior to the official Manifesto for Auckland launch.
If you are interested in learning more or would be interested in standing for Auckland Council in 2016, please contact Damian Light: damianlight@xtra.co.nz.

Paul Thompson, Board Member.

4. Leader’s Report – A Small Party’s Positive Influence on Government

People often ask what the value of small parties in Parliament is. Do they achieve anything, or do they just occupy space? Well, there have been a couple of good examples in recent weeks of just how influential small parties can be, and why we need them in Parliament.

First, was the move by the ACT Party to enable bars and pubs to open so people could watch World Cup rugby games. And then there was the change in New Zealand’s approach to the refugee crisis – brought about by prompting from UnitedFuture.

Neither of those changes would have occurred if the National Government had been left to its own devices. And it was UnitedFuture that stepped in to sort out the recent workplace safety debacle by ensuring the regulations will now contain clear definitions of what constitute at risk industries.

Next on the agenda is the vexed issue of trout farming, with regulations that effectively prevent it about to expire. UnitedFuture has already been working to ensure that trout farming remains prohibited, and I am very confident of success.

What all these items demonstrate is that a modern government needs a conscience constantly sitting on its shoulder to keep it on track. That is the role UnitedFuture plays and will continue to play. It is why we add value to government – almost on a daily basis – and why we are a party of influence.

Growing our membership and support base is the best way I know to grow our influence on whoever is in power, and to achieve many of the things we stand for. It is what keeps us going, and not getting sidetracked. Each week I set out my thoughts on a current issue in Dunne Speaks – if you want to subscribe (free of charge) please email me at peter.dunne@parliament.govt.nz and I will be happy to add you to the growing mailing list.

Meantime, spring is almost upon us, and the harshness of the winter may be softening. Shortly, extended daylight saving (another UnitedFuture initiative) returns, giving us all the opportunity to enjoy a little time outside relaxing and enjoying life. All of which means that summer is not too far away!

Peter Dunne,  UnitedFuture Party Leader.

5. Membership Report – We Need Paid Up Members to Continue Achieving Results in Government

Shortly members will start to see requests to renew their membership.

We’re required by law to maintain at least 500 financial members at all times, which means there is a cost to be a member. We’ve kept this as low as possible at $5 per member.

Without your support we can’t continue to achieve the results we have in more than a decade in government.

We try and keep our costs as low as possible, with everyone volunteering their time and often sponsoring costs. This ensures we keep as much as possible for elections. However, we do have a few unavoidable costs (eg. an annual review of our finances, AGM venue hire), so we appreciate any additional donations that people can afford.  To donate online click here.

Our sincere thanks for your continued support.

UnitedFuture Board of Management.

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