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MPs Crunch Through Local Government Bill

The Government made progress today on the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill despite strong opposition from many parties.

The bill seeks to reverse the 2002 reforms of local government legislation which gave councils wider ``powers of general competence’’ and curb some aspects of their activities. It will also make it easier for local councils to merge.

Annette King said Labour’s opposition to the bill would continue and would seek to make amendments

King said the former local government minister Nick Smith had tried to create the impression that there was a crisis in the sector due to the powers of councils being extended in 2002 legislation.

This was wrong and the select committee was unable to agree on the need for further reform or the detail of the bill, she said.

Nick Smith said there were thousands of New Zealanders who were concerned about rising debt levels in councils. He said those opposing bill cited opposition to the bill, but almost 90 percent of his constituents who responded to his survey were concerned about council debt.

Rates had increased faster than any other component of the consumer price index and councils had to be curbed, he said.

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MPs completed debate on Part One of the bill at 5.30 and the Government’s amendments were accepted and Opposition MPs amendments defeated by 61 to 60 with National, ACT and United Future carrying the weight of numbers.

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