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Flawed Local Government Bill Will Be Staunchly Opp

Flawed Local Government Bill Will Be Staunchly Opposed

ACT New Zealand continued its opposition to the Local Government Bill today, as the report of the Environment and Local Government Select Committee was tabled in Parliament.

"Labour proposes to ram this legislation through Parliament under urgency before Christmas," ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said. "ACT believes the purposes and principles of this Bill are conceptually flawed. This legislation goes to the core of the philosophical debate between the rights of the individual in society versus the power of the collective to restrict, control, direct and influence our lives.

"By granting the powers of general competence to local government, ACT believes individual freedoms are put at risk. If official powers are not carefully prescribed and restrained at all levels of government then they can destroy the very essence they were established to protect. Local authorities should not be empowered to establish and operate commercial ventures underwritten by the ratepayer and in competition with the private sector.

"While decision making and accountability procedures are important, this Bill introduces excessively convoluted planning and consultative procedures which are predicted to greatly increase the administration costs of local government and the compliance costs of business and enterprise. ACT opposes those provisions that place unnecessary restrictions on the disposal of parks and council owned housing. Equally we see no good reason why councils should be forced to own and operate water and sewage networks, even when it is shown that alternative arrangements could provide improved services at lower cost.

"These provisions are nothing more than socialist dogma overriding common sense. They are pandering to far-left politics in Auckland. Mayor John Banks' initiative to get the Council out of housing erupted in controversy, and Bob Harvey is terrified his price gouging on the provision of water will be exposed. Watercare Services harvests, treats and delivers the bulk water for 45 cents per cubic metre but in Waitakere, Bob Harvey's council retail that same water for an average price of $1.47 per cubic metre.

"ACT supports the Committee's decision to reverse the provision in the Bill that removed the voter franchise of non-resident ratepayers. We strenuously oppose amendments to the Local Electoral Act contained in part 13, making provision for separate representation by Maori. We oppose all laws that confer privilege or disadvantage to any group in society based on their ethnicity. We believe that such provision contravenes Article III of the Treaty of Waitangi, which conferred equal rights and responsibilities before the law on all citizens.

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