Rodney Hide on Dunedin’s luddite council


Rodney Hide excoriates the Dunedin City Council for their embracing of a buggy culture.

I was taken aback by Dunedin City Council committing to invest ethically.

I would have thought it was already beyond reproach.But it turns out it?s not about the council?not taking back-handers and the like but rather what it can and can?t invest in.

Henceforth, it won?t invest in porn, munitions, tobacco or gambling. Seriously? Was investing in porn ever?in prospect?

I once took a paper to the cabinet to circumscribe council activity. I wanted to limit them to core services. To buttress my argument, I had examples of the nutty investments that?councils had entangled ratepayers in. I remember dairy farms, property development, Lotto shops and cinemas. My concern wasn?t ethical investing but rather local government?s?proper role. I wanted councils to stick to basics. I didn?t succeed but would have had a chance with the Dunedin example: a council having to make a rule to stop itself investing in pornographic?movies.

Who knew councils were that out-of-control?But as I read the news report further I twigged. It?s not about porn; it?s about fossil fuels.The prohibition on porn and?munitions also includes a prohibition on fossil fuel extraction. Seriously. Dunedin?s commitment is not benign. Its purpose is to demonise fossil fuels and attack modern life.

It is insane to the point of dangerous.

It?s?all part-and-parcel of the new Green nuttiness. I can well imagine the mayor and councillors going without porn, bombs, cigarettes and Lotto. I can?t imagine them going without cars, trucks,?buses, phones and computers Of course, they won?t do that. The council is declaring it unethical to invest in extracting fossil fuels but is more than happy to enjoy all the benefits that oil,?gas and coal provide.? At one level, it?s pious posturing without personal cost but at another it?s not without longer-term policy effect.

What would city leaders do if oil?was found off their coast? Would they reject the resulting industry as unethical? Or would they declare their stance on fossil fuel extraction meaningless posturing? More particularly, would the oil?and gas industries want to locate anywhere near a city whose leaders who, – with much tub-thumping, – declared them morally equivalent to porn and tobacco? I doubt it.

It matters not a jot?that Dunedin City Council is not investing in oil exploration and the like. It?s not its business or expertise. But it matters enormously that city leaders are declaring fossil fuel extraction?unethical.

Without fossil fuels there is no development. That?s unless Dunedin regards an old-style blacksmith and wainwright turning up as useful development.

Banning the making?of porn wouldn?t damage Dunedin?s economy. ?Well, I am guessing it wouldn?t. But banning fossil fuels would for-sure bomb Dunedin back to feudal times. Dunedinites would be?reduced to scratching a living as peasants.

But, reflecting further, maybe there?s merit in the idea. What if the council got serious and went the whole hog? That would end their?hypocrisy. Fossil fuel extraction is unethical and we won?t have anything to do with it.? The council would be fossil-free and free of all industrial products. It could have stickers?declaring itself a fossil-free zone.

But just the council. After all, they are the ones thumping the tub. They would toss their computers and fancy phones in favour of quill, parchment and?horseback.? Now that would be tremendous. It would put local government back in its box better than anything I ever came up with. A council reduced to quill and parchment! Imagine it. They would?achieve next to nothing. That would liberate the city. Dunedin would boom.

Ever since Helen Clark allowed councils general competence we have seen debt burgeon and empire building of armies of council staff increase. It is time to rein in the excesses. The reforms have largely failed.

I’m not even sure we need local councils in any case….except to just provide essential services.