Wednesday 4 May 2022

The Wellness Regime

The excellent NZ series Creamerie imagined a future New Zealand in which the Wellness People had truly taken over. It was more than a little dystopic.

The Wellness People really have taken over policy though. Sadly, Treasury led the corruption here. And, as cancers do, it spread.

Wellington Council has, time and again, proven to be among the more incompetent of the country's councils. The water pipes keep breaking. The Mayor participates in protests against building housing, in the middle of a giant housing shortage. Let's Get Wellington Moving seems to be about everything other than enabling transport. They say it's about reducing transport emissions, but transport is in the ETS. It can't affect the country's greenhouse gas emissions. 

Wellington Council put up its own economic wellbeing strategy. Because of course it did. 

It's about as good as you'd expect. 

They want central government to provide more subsidies to the local film industry. Wellness demands it. I wonder whether Treasury could find a way of supporting film subsidies under its rather flexible Living Standards Framework. 

My column for the Dom this week. A bottom line:

Until Wellington is able to get things right in the core traditional areas of council responsibility, improving economic wellbeing is going to be a tough job.

I'd also put in a submission on the blasted thing.  

In summary, we submit:

  • Council should focus first on ensuring it is competently and cost-effectively delivering core council services before expanding into other policy areas that are more traditionally handled by central government;

  • Council must fundamentally reconsider how it thinks about carbon emissions. Urban emissions are covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme. Council action in seeking to limit local emissions may have no effect at all on national-level emissions. But Council has a critical role in facilitating its residents’ responses to rising carbon prices in the Emissions Trading Scheme;

  • Rather than lobby central government for measures like subsidies for the local film industry, it should lobby central government to provide Council with the tools it needs to enable urban growth. In particular, better infrastructure financing options would let Council do a lot to improve the whole city – but require central government’s assistance. Housing and the infrastructure required to support it are far too central to wellbeing to see so little attention in this plan.

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