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ACT Wants Law Change To Address Rodney Council Woe

ACT Wants Law Change To Address Rodney Council Woes

The ACT Party is calling the Government to move quickly to change the Local Government Act to allow a democratic solution to the woes of the Rodney District Council.

ACT Local Government spokesman Owen Jennings and ACT Rodney MP Penny Webster said the Minister should introduce legislation immediately to allow her to appoint a Commissioner for a fixed period of no more than 4 months with provision after that period for full elections for every seat on the Council.

“The decision today by Rodney Councillors to appoint new Councillors to fill vacancies left by the resignation of five councillors instead of going to a by-election is a slap in the face for the residents of Rodney and a democratic outrage.

“The Minister of Local Government Sandra Lee should be held accountable for this abuse of due process as she has encouraged the remaining Councillors to stay on. The need for the Minister to act in the wider interests of all Rodney residents and not that of the remaining Councillors is now acute.

”The best outcome for Rodney would be a Commissioner appointed as a interim measure only, with fresh elections to be held within four months for all of the seats”. Owen Jennings believes this process overcomes the two primary difficulties that the residents of Rodney face. A Commissioner would deal with the issues surrounding proper process and put Council affairs onto a professional and practical basis before handing over at the earliest possible period to a duly elected body.

“The residents would not have to wait till October 2001 to exercise their democratic right, a weakness in the present legislation. Residents should have the right to make a fresh judgement about who they want representing them given the dysfunction of the present Council. It would allow residents to rid their Council of the disruptive element the Review Authority identified.

“The remaining Councillors have lost their right to their positions following the damning report of the Review Authority. They would be, of course, able to stand in fresh elections and be elected if that was the will of the voters.

Owen Jennings said ACT would support the Government if it was prepared to take this decisive and practical solution to dealing with the problems in Rodney Council. “It is vital that the Minister stops pussy-footing around with the remaining Councillors and concentrates on the needs of the whole district,” he said.

ENDS

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