Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Local Government Reform – background and misconceptions

Local Government Reform – background and misconceptions


A common misconception about local government in New Zealand is that we are ‘over governed’. In fact the reverse is the case when we compare ourselves to the rest of the developed world.

Another misconception is that bigger is cheaper. There are plenty of examples of the ‘diseconomies of scale’ and Auckland is starting to illustrate a local case of bigger costing more. As organisations grow they add in more and more management layers which inevitably cost more.


Before the 1989 reforms we had around 880 councils, boroughs and boards in New Zealand. A major reshaping saw the number reduced to around 88 and now sitting at 72. This was accompanied by major legislative overhaul which saw 57 Acts and 17 regulations combined into the Resource Management Act. This “integrated management” approach was the legislative basis for the reform. I think we got it about right as opposed to some thinking now that maybe twelve or fifteen councils would be good.


Looking at others can help us but it is what we think at the end of the day that really matters.

The wealthiest people in the world are the Swiss, their population is similar to ours and a chunk of their economy is based on dairy cows. They have around 2,000 councils. France has 32,000 mayors and the average council size in the USA is 9,000 people. Even Sydney, just across the ditch has more than 40 councils making up the city. England and Wales have councils nearly twice our size but as well as the usual services they are also delivering police, education and health. Internationally we have less local government (bigger units) than most other countries.


So what is right for New Zealand?


We have a sparsely populated long narrow country divided by mountains. It is geographically diverse and largely dependent on rural based primary industries.

It is my view that Local Councils play a vital role in supporting their local communities and economy. The infrastructure that enables the economy to function is largely owned and managed by local communities. It is well understood by locals as it has largely been built and maintained by them. The roads and bridges, water supply systems along with liquid and solid waste disposal, flood control, animal control, and up until relatively recent time, electricity networks.


There are a myriad of other functions like sport and recreation facilities, building and environmental controls, local bylaws, cemeteries, in fact forty eight different things for this small council, Opotiki. They all contribute to the proper functioning of a rural town that provides support in a number of ways for our rural economy.


The obvious are the schools, health services and social outlet a local town can provide. Probably more important are the direct services, engineering and mechanical serving and repairs, fuel and tyres, fertilizer, stock feeds and seeds, tools and equipment, transport logistics, labour supply and so on. The labour required to pick and pack our kiwifruit crop here in Opotiki needs to be housed and looked after when it is brought in for six months of the year to do the job.


Small towns and even provincial cities around the world have been struggling to hold their own as people gravitate to larger metropolitan centres for the economic opportunities and cultural stimulation they provide. Provincial decline comes at a cost when it begins to diminish the services required to support rural industries.

Amalgamating smaller councils if there is no cost benefit to ratepayers only hastens the demise of other services they rely on. The leadership, local knowledge and local decision making processes that local councils provide are critical to the ongoing wellbeing of rural and provincial New Zealand.


In my opinion the amalgamation proposals that are currently being considered in parts of the country are unnecessary. In fact they have the potential to make Local Government worse and they will cost ratepayers more in rates.

John Forbes

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On The Northland By-Election

Supposedly, Winston Peters’ victory in Northland has exposed the simmering dissatisfaction with the government that exists out in the provinces. Yet it remains to be seen whether this defeat will have much significance – and not simply because if and when Labour resumes business as usual in the Northland seat at the next election, Peters’ hold on it could simply evaporate.

On Saturday, National’s electorate vote declined by 7,000 votes, as the 9,000 majority it won last September turned into a 4,000 vote deficit – mainly because Labour supporters followed the nod and wink given by Labour leader Andrew Little, and voted tactically for Peters. In the process, Labour’s vote went down from nearly 9,000 votes six months ago, to only 1,315 on Saturday. More>>

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

IPCA Reports: Significant Problems In Police Custody

In releasing two reports today, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has highlighted a number of significant problems with the way in which Police deal with people who are detained in Police cells. More>>

ALSO:

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security: Inquiry Into GCSB Pacific Allegations

The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data. More>>

ALSO:

TPPA Investment Leak: "NZ Surrender To US" On Corporates Suing Governments

Professor Jane Kelsey: ‘As anticipated, the deal gives foreign investors from the TPPA countries special rights, and the power to sue the government in private offshore tribunals for massive damages if new laws, or even court decisions, significantly affected their bottom line’. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: The Myth Of Steven Joyce

Gordon Campbell: The myth of competence that’s been woven around Steven Joyce – the Key government’s “Minister of Everything” and “Mr Fixit” – has been disseminated from high-rises to hamlets, across the country... More>>

ALSO:

RMTU: No Public Submissions On International Government Procurement Deal

“The government is preparing to assent to the Government Procurement Agreement, a World Trade Organisation Treaty which opens up New Zealand Government contracts to foreign companies and closes the door on local businesses and their workers. However the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee is refusing to take public submissions on the decision.” More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On Pacific Spying

So New Zealand spied on its friends and allies in the Pacific – and has not only been passing on the results to the NSA, but has apparently passed on the details of the Pacific’s relations with Taiwan to our other best friends, the Chinese. On the side, the Key government has also been using the security services to gauge the chances of Trade Minister Tim Groser landing the top job at the WTO... More>>

ALSO:

State Housing Transfer: Salvation Army Opts Out

The Salvation Army has decided against negotiating with Government for the transfer of Housing New Zealand stock.
More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news