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National to muzzle New Zealand communities

Hon Chris Carter
Minister of Local Government

27 July 2005 Media Statement

National to muzzle New Zealand communities


National is to muzzle communities and deprive them of input in to their council's affairs, Local Government Minister Chris Carter said today.

"National leader Don Brash announced National's local government policy today and the centrepiece of it is a plan to effectively disenfranchise local people," Mr Carter said.

"National is planning to axe the legal requirements Labour has introduced under which councils must go out and talk to their community about major decisions they are about to undertake."

"According to Brash, it is too costly for councils to keep ratepayers informed of their activities and plans, let alone let the public have input into local decisions.

"Silencing communities is becoming a theme in National's election promises," Mr Carter said.

"National's policy on the Resource Management Act also kills off community input in to resource management decisions, apparently because it slows up decision-making too much, and frustrates the interests of developers.

"Maybe it is time for the public of New Zealand to remind the National Party they live in a democracy in which local people like to have a say in local decision-making," Mr Carter said.

"Brash's understanding of local government is overly-simplistic. His claims that the new Local Government Act, changes to Dog Control laws and the adoption by a few councils of STV have added hundreds of millions of dollars to New Zealand's rates bill are simply preposterous.

"The single biggest ticket item for councils is infrastructure. Rates are rising because local authorities are having to invest heavily in roads, sewerage and drinking water systems following a decade of appalling infrastructure neglect under National.

"Since 1999, funding from central government to local government has increased 45 per cent, a reflection of a massive investment by Labour in to local communities to try and blunt the impact of infrastructure costs on rates."

This funding has comprised:

- $1.1bn over two years to assist with the upgrading of local roads

- $150m over ten years to assist with upgrading sewerage schemes

- $136m over ten years to assist with upgrading drinking water systems

- $9.8m to assist with the infrastructure demands of tourism

ENDS

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