Local Debt, Local Cuts: PM Announces Local Govt Reforms
PM's Post-Cabinet Press Conference Monday, 19 March 2012
Scoop Video + Audio + Photos: Press conference held after today's cabinet meeting - Monday 19th March 2012
By Mark P. Williams
The Prime Minister and Local Government Minister Nick Smith today announced a raft of reforms to local government. The PM said that the Local Government Reform Bill placed central emphasis on efficiency within tight financial constraint.
The announcement was made at the PM's post-cabinet press conference.
The Prime Minister said that the Bill was intended to 'streamline the purpose of local government'. He added that the Bill aimed to provide 'high quality infrastructure' and encourage councils to 'focus on the services that only they can deliver'.
The PM spoke of new 'fiscal responsibility requirements for councils' which will include setting 'benchmarks for councils performance regarding income, expenditure and debt levels'. He emphasised that the intent of the Bill was to increase transparency to effect a behavioural change towards increased efficiency in local government.
Both the Prime Minister and Local Government Minister also emphasised that questions of specific cuts in council expenditure would be matters for each council to account for individually.
Nick Smith took questions on a variety of
the functions which might face change. He was asked
-- Rate caps
-- Cuts to cultural displays, arts festivals and public events
-- The involvement of councils in local education
-- The number of jobs likely to be lost
The Prime Minister then took went on to give his regular briefing on the coming week including his trips to Seoul for the Nuclear Security Summit, and to Christchurch for the Super Rugby. He also spoke about the opening of new road links in Auckland at the Victoria Park Tunnel and St Mary's Bay and in Wellington at the Terrace tunnel.
He took questions on:
-- The death of the King
of Tonga and the relationship between Tonga and New
-- The Algerian custody case
-- Auckland housing issues and in particular what the Govt was doing to alleviate pressures on housing
-- The PM took several questions regarding the ACC privacy breach and the response to it, and in particular his position regarding the role of ACC Minister Judith Collins