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Labour builds a partnership with local government

Labour builds a partnership with local government

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Local Government Minister Chris Carter today launched Labour's local government policy, saying that in its third term Labour will continue to work closely with local government.

“Over two terms in government, we have built a strong partnership with local government. Through the Central-Local Government Forum, chaired by me and the President of Local Government New Zealand, which meets every six months, we have worked together on the challenges before both levels of government," Helen Clark said.

"Our Labour-led government has comprehensively reformed the legislative framework for local government in New Zealand, in close consultation with local government. There have been many funding initiatives too, from new schemes to improve sewerage and drinking water systems, to the massive investment in roading and public transport.

"Funding from central to local government has increased by 45 per cent from 1999 to 2004. Growth in this assistance has outstripped growth in rates and the operating revenue of local authorities. With central government support, many long-stalled council-led infrastructure projects are able to proceed.

"The high level of collaboration and support which characterises Labour's working relationship with local government has been a sea change from National's heavy handed and contemptuous treatment of the sector in the past – and in its current policy.

"There is no doubt that funding which supports local government would be severely at risk from the big spending cuts National would need to finance its tax cuts," Helen Clark said.

Local Government Minister Chris Carter said that Labour will continue to work in a comprehensive partnership with local government.

“Labour will:

Continue to participate in the Central-Local Government Forum jointly chaired by the Prime Minister and the President of Local Government New Zealand twice each year to identify key issues of significance to local and central government, agree on priorities for addressing those issues, and monitor progress towards their resolution. Raise the subsidy levels for projects to upgrade sewage treatment and disposal systems in small, rural communities with high levels of deprivation to up to ninety per cent of the costs of the project. From a review earlier this year, we estimate that rather more than eighty small communities with high deprivation levels around New Zealand will be able to benefit from the increased subsidy rate. Complete the Local Government Funding Project. Introduce an extended rates rebate scheme to assist low-income householders. Up to 300,000 households will be eligible for the revamped scheme, and the maximum rebate will increase from $200 to $500 per annum. Review the new Local Government Act to assess how it is working in practice, and fine-tune it if necessary," Chris Carter said.

"Labour is absolutely committed to the principle that local people should make local decisions. Our legislation and approach empowers and supports local government to meet communities' needs and aspirations," Helen Clark said.

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