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National completely wrong on Local Government Bill

19 November 2002 Media Statement

National completely wrong on Local Government Bill


National's ridiculous attack on the Local Government Bill once again demonstrates how poorly informed the party is, Acting Local Government Minister Judith Tizard said today.

"Bill English's speech this morning contains not one but three complete false hoods about the Local Government Bill.

"Mr English claimed that under the Bill councils will have to act in accordance with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. This is not true.

"Mr English said councils will have to 'recognise and respect the principles of Treaty of Waitangi'. This is also not true.

"Mr English said the Bill would give the local government minister the power to review all decisions relating to Maori and order the process to be done again. This is just complete nonsense, nothing like this appears in the Bill," Ms Tizard said.

"The Local Government Bill contains a reference to the Treaty but it does not place a general Treaty obligation on councils. Instead it contains a set of practical provisions designed to advance the government's goals of maintaining and improving opportunities for Maori to contribute to local government.

"Maori are heavily under-represented on councils. In the last local government elections only 4% of those elected were Maori, yet Maori make up 14% the population," Ms Tizard said.

She said that was why there was an option for Maori wards or constituencies in the Bill.

"But once again the National Party is not telling the people of New Zealand the whole truth. Mr English has claimed that councils will simply be able to declare that separate Maori constituencies will be formed," Ms Tizard said.

"What he hasn't said is that councils must then notify their communities of their decision. Just 5% of electors can force a referendum on the issue, and if that referendum does not support a council's resolution it stops dead.

"Maori constituencies are a matter for councils and local communities to determine. That is the principle of local government," Ms Tizard said.

"Maori are resident in almost every New Zealand community and they have to be able to participate. "

Ms Tizard said the suggestion the Bill was being rushed through by the Government was completely ludicrous.

"Consultation on it started in November 2000. A discussion document was released in June 2001. Submissions were called for over an eleven week period during which 66 public meetings were held throughout the country. Finally, the Bill was introduced to Parliament in December 2001. The Local Government and Environment Select Committee has been hearing submissions and considering the content of the Bill since February."

ENDS

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