Government must look again at local-body legislation

The Green Party shares the concerns of councils and mayors around the country about the Government’s proposals to reduce the decision-making power of elected local representation through further amalgamations and Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs).

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt has come out opposing the Government’s local government bill, and at the recent Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) conference, nearly all LGNZ members voted for a remit opposing the changes.

“The local voice needs to remain in local government, yet the Government’s proposed new laws will see power stripped away from communities,” Green Party local government spokesperson Jan Logie said.

“The Government’s plan to push through local government amalgamations hasn’t worked, so it is now trying to do it through the back door with its Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2).

“The Government is also proposing to create and direct Council Controlled Organisations for water, waste water and transport, which will use Government appointees, instead of elected local representatives.  

“Local authorities need to be directly involved in reorganisation investigations and council businesses for them to succeed, and the Government bill is preparing to remove that.  

“More CCOs will continue this Government's preoccupation with privatising public infrastructure and will remove local accountability.

“As a bottom line, communities need to have a say over their own services, and to be able to maintain control over what rates are being spent on.

“The local government sector, people working day to day with the legislation, have huge problems with the proposed changes in the Bill.

“The Government has been embarrassed by the people of Wellington and Hawke’s Bay who rejected amalgamation, and is now looking to wield a heavier hand.

“The Government needs to reconsider its local government reforms, which threaten to lock communities out from having their say,” said Ms Logie.  

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