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Friday, May 11, 2012

You can't fool Shadbolt (for long)

In this week's Mayoral Moments column in the Southland Express newspaper, Invercargill mayor, Tim Shadbolt shows why it is he's risen to the top of local government in the part of the world - he's no fool and not easily fooled. Water, reticulation and the control of both has long been subject to his mayoral scrutiny and comment and he's warned of the inevitable privatization of our shared resource. In his column he goes further than before, describing the insidious way in which the idea is being foisted upon us by the Government. Shadbolt says;  "The Government has already started to invent a new language for this concept whereby larger successful cities will inherit the problems of a small rural town. It's called 'clubbing', 'harmonisation' or 'network pricing'. I believe we are witnessing the thin edge of the wedge of the privatization of all New Zealand water reticulation, including irrigation."

I share, and have shared for some time, Tim's view on the issue of water privatisation. He's bold enough to say that it's happening befroe our eyes, but that it's wrapped in clever words, so as not to alarm us. We ought to be alarmed. Shadbolt goes on to make this interesting statement:
"I had respected John Key because he seemed to be motivated by good old Kiwi common sense rather than ideological dogma." If there's one thing mayor Shadbolt and I do differ on, it's that point, though it looks as though he's finally seen through Key's pretence.
With regard Tim's 'inventing a new language' comment, I have to mention Fonterra and the Federated Farmers who are busy 'reforming' the language around farming, by diluting down the required standard from "best practice" to "good practice". Seems if you can't meet the standards required these days, you just lower the bar by fiddling with words! Watch out for it. It's happening all over. Remember Key's "New Zealand is New Zealand's brand, not 'clean and green'.
Sneaky Mr Key.

6 comments:

bsprout said...

Actually, Robert, the term "good practice" is the better of the two. "Best practice" implies there is an ultimate achievable standard, which in reality is not possible. New knowledge and ongoing development will always contribute to a revision of what was considered "best". "Good practice" always shifts to support current thinking and doesn't allow the complacency of meeting a "best practice" standard that could, in reality be obsolete. Best practice needs to be defined good practice creates an expectation that there will be a commitment to current thinking and understandings.

robertguyton said...

I don't agree with you at all, bsprout, and I believe I understand the points you make. "Best" practice has been the expression that has served us so far and refers to those practices that are the best possible at this point in time and place.It's accepted that best practice shifts forward with new research etc. "Good" is a softener, that allows for excuses to be made. There's no aspiration around good. How are you feeling? Good, how are you feeling? Never better! Which one do you aspire to, bsprout?

Farmer Baby Boomer said...

is this column on line? Tried but couldn't find it

Anonymous said...

I agree with bsprout, best practice gives the impression that there is one static standard that is applicable to all situations and can not be bettered; good practice takes the view that it's good at this moment but there is potential for better. In fact you recognise this in your own example Robert. If you have never been better, what is there to aspire to? What further progress are you expecting to make? I think you're mistaking the explanation of an evolving process (good practice that we expect will become better in time) with the idea that the terminology used should set an expectation for the practitioner (we expect the best of you). Industry discussion is motivated by the former intent.

robertguyton said...

"We expect the best of you" you say, Anonymous. "Best" indeed.
I notice you didn't say, "We expect you'll do 'good'"
Best practice around effluent management might be, say, keeping it dry then feeding it to tiger worms, but there's always the possibility that research will find a better system. Then 'best practice' will refer to the newer methods.

As to 'never been better' being a disincentive to improvement, I regard the expression as pretty damn excellent, if taken literally, and if true, the perfect place from which to welcome further improvements. "You've never been better? Here, take this $1 000 000 I have spare." " No thanks, I've never felt better, so I can't top that. Keep your money!"
I don't think so.
I'll stick with 'best practice'. You keep your 'good'(enough).

bsprout (I know your involved in organising today's anti-asset sale march, so won't answer this, but when you say 'there is no ultimate achievable standard', you are wrong (just like John, Bill and Eric :-)
There are indeed 'best practice examples that you can aspire-to and achieve. Best practice in writing sentences is to start with a capital letter and finish with a full stop. That's not 'good' practice. It's imperative and can't be/doesn't need to be, improved.
Eh.

robertguyton said...

Farmer Baby Boomer - I don't think so. Like me to scan and post the article?