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Communities urged to "seize their chance"

17 August 2001 Media Statement

Communities urged to "seize their chance" in local authority and DHB elections

Local Government Minister Sandra Lee says she's concerned to learn that nominations are crawling in for local authority and DHB positions in some parts of the country, with only a week remaining for nominations to be submitted.

Ms Lee said she hoped the reported low responses so far were only a case of last minute decision-making on the part of potential candidates.

"I urge communities to seize their chance in the upcoming local authority and district health board elections, and make a commitment to stand for public office this year," Ms Lee said. "The government is committed to putting the local back into local government, but we can’t do that without community support and participation," she said.

"Decisions made by local authorities and DHBs may have far more impact on our daily lives than many central government decisions."

Ms Lee said because many communities were so diverse in their make-up, it was important that the different voices within each community were heard on councils, community boards and district health boards.

"We need more representatives from the aged, the young, the disabled, as well as more Maori and Pacific Islanders and other ethnic groups."

Ms Lee said all candidates would have the opportunity under the new Local Electoral Act to submit profiles about themselves, as well as their policies and intentions if elected. The profiles would be sent to all voters at the same time as their ballot papers. She said the new Act also set spending limits for all candidates, and information about those limits was available from the local authority or DHB that a potential candidate was considering standing for.

"These measures are designed to make local democracy accessible to everyone regardless of their income, as well as helping voters make a more informed choice."

Local authority and DHB nominations close at noon on Friday 24 August.

ENDS

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