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Opportunities for getting involved with local gov.

30 June 2003 Media Statement

More opportunities for getting involved with local government

Individuals and communities will have more opportunity to have their say in their local city, district or regional councils when the Local Government Act 2002 comes into force tomorrow.

Local Government Minister Chris Carter said the Act would lead to more responsive and flexible local government.

“The new Act provides councils with more flexible but not unfettered powers, and places upon them carefully balanced requirements to consult with their communities.

“The Act sets out a clear purpose for local government – to promote the social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being of communities. This means that councils should be thinking about how everyone can work together to do the things that local communities think are important for their future. Councils have to be open about what they’re doing and answerable to their communities.”

Mr Carter said the new Act abandoned the old prescriptive approach to what local authorities could and could not do.

“It does so because the point of having local government is that local people are generally best placed to make decisions affecting their community. Increased public input will, for example, make it harder for councils to increase rates without good reason.”

The Act’s overall approach is to encourage community consultation as early as possible in the planning process, Mr Carter said.

“This has two key advantages. It empowers communities to have their say upfront in the policy-making process, when there’s more potential for flexibility. It also minimises compliance costs, as there’s no point in councils producing elaborate draft plans ahead of determining community opinion.”


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