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Local Government Should Not Get Greater Powers

Local Government Should Not Get Greater Powers

Monday 15 Oct 2001 Gerry Eckhoff Press Releases -- Governance & Constitution

The exceedingly low turnout of voters in the local body elections illustrates why councils must not be given powers of general competence, ACT Local Government Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff said.

"The Government appears determined to foist upon local government their 'partnership approach' which clearly rate payers don't want.

"Local government is clearly seen as rather irrelevant by the more that 50 percent of the population that didn't bother to vote. As many people who did vote would not have got the candidate of their choice, you could argue that perhaps 70 percent of the voting population have councillors they don't want or deem surplus to requirements.

"The public have voted local government down, while the Minister Sandra Lee of the Alliance Party, is going to ignore their wishes and will impose more local government whether the public like it or not.

"At the moment councils can't do anything, or spend money on anything unless they can specifically point to a rule which lets them. The `powers of general competence' will reverse this, meaning that the councils and their officials can make you do anything they want, or spend your money on any pet project - if YOU can't point to any rule which specifically says they can't.

"Letting councillors do anything with rate payers' money that is not expressly forbidden is constitutional barbarism.

"We all know of ratepayers' money wasted on political vanity projects. We will see councillors who could never persuade investors or business people voluntarily to entrust them with management of a business, with new fields in which to squander uncontrolled borrowings and ratepayers' savings.

"It seems obvious that rates will rise significantly as Ms Lee imposes the national policy statement she wants implemented. The power of general competence will increase local governments ability to reach into people's lives and their pockets especially," Gerry Eckhoff said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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