Spotlight on helping to shape local democracy

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By TRACEY ROXBURGH

Ways to ensure community views are used to shape policies at a local government level will be traversed at the first ‘Reset’ discussion in Queenstown next week, being hosted by Max Rushbrooke.

The democracy advocate, academic and author was in the resort a year ago, speaking at a Catalyst Trust talk about participatory democracy and the need for more, and more diverse, voices at the decision-making table.

This Thursday’s event’s being held by One New Zealand in partnership with Catalyst Trust, Shaping Our Future and Sustainable Queenstown.

ONZ chair Monique Kelly says research shows diverse teams make better decisions than individuals 87 per cent of the time.

‘‘The principle is that good decisions are made by many brains — not big brains.’’

But, she says, the existing democratic system doesn’t follow that logic — decision-making’s left to a few, with scant diversity and community consultation usually taking a ‘too little, too late’ approach.

Catalyst Trust co-chair Cath Gilmour aims to ensure City Hall councillors can use community input to help shape the long-term plan, which sets the programme for council’s capital expenditure over the next three years, and a broad outline of projects through to
2031.

‘‘So it is vital our community helps set the parameters and objectives that will shape our infrastructure as we rebuild and recover, both our community and our economy.’’

Kelly, also a member of the council’s ‘regenerative action group’, which is looking at medium- to long-term post-Covid recovery, says the systemic change the Reset conversation needs to kickstart won’t be a fast process.

‘‘But we need to start, because if we aren’t at the decision-making table, we can’t influence the decisions.

‘‘And these decisions will affect everyone in our community, not only the powerful and wealthy.’’

‘Power to the people — next steps’ is being held at the Queenstown Memorial Centre from 7pm till 9pm next Thursday.

Tickets cost $15 plus fees and are available from Eventbrite, however, if cost’s a barrier, email connect@catalystnz.org and a seat will be set aside.

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz