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National Party policy "undemocratic"

National Party policy "undemocratic"

Recent National Party policy has confirmed their anti-community approach says Associate Environment Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says in recent days the National Party have sought to reduce the involvement of Local Government in the Resource Management Act and Local Government policy development. He says this is matched by National Party rhetoric in other areas such as compulsory bulk funding to schools.

"A lot of their talk is about involving people but this just isn't matched by the detail of their policy," said Mr Benson-Pope. "These policies are undemocratic. They give a preference to special interests over and above the interests of all New Zealanders.

"When it comes to the RMA, Donald Brash said there is 'too much decision-making' in the hands of local communities and their councils; developers should be able to bypass local community decision-making; and there should be less recognition of those affected by environmental effects in favour of those who produce them.

"National announced it's local government policy and the centrepiece of that plan is to effectively disenfranchise local people. 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 make.

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

Mr Benson-Pope says this is exactly National's attitude toward the introduction of compulsory bulk funding for schools, despite so often talking about parent choice. He says National's attitude to community involvement is no better articulated than in the words of Bill English at the National Party Conference: "No ifs, no buts, and no fighting in school communities over whether to have it. Everyone is going bulk funding. It’s a political decision. We’re not going to make boards and principals make that decision, the politicians will decide. National has decided and that’s where we’re going."

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

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