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Proposals Put The 'Local' Back In Local Government

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Minister of Local Government Sandra Lee today said that a review of the Local Government Act would allow local authorities to better serve their communities.

Helen Clark and Sandra Lee were speaking at the release of a public consultation document on the review, following the third central government/local government forum at Premier House, Wellington.

"The proposals outlined in the document will not amount to a revolution in local government, but they will create the platform for longer-term changes in what local government does, how it goes about these activities, and how citizens can become more involved in making the decisions that affect their everyday lives," Helen Clark said.

Sandra Lee said the government's proposed modern partnership approach to community power-sharing was in sharp contrast to the narrow, prescriptive approach of the present Local Government Act.

"The proposal to grant local authorities a 'power of general competence' would give them broad powers to enhance the well-being of their communities.

"Generally speaking, both regional councils and territorial authorities would enjoy the same freedoms as corporations.

"In addition, local authorities would be encouraged to ensure their activities are managed in sustainable ways through 'triple bottom line' accounting, covering financial results, environmental performance and social progress."

Helen Clark said it was also proposed that council planning processes be broadened to ensure local authorities are explicit about the reasons for being involved in particular activities, and how they contributed to the local authorities' goals and community priorities.

"The government is now seeking community input on these important proposals. The consultation document will be discussed at meetings throughout New Zealand, and public submissions close on 30 August.

"The government plans to introduce a new Local Government Bill to Parliament by December 2001, and enact it mid-2002.


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