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Farcical ditching of Auck plan

John Key National Party MP for Helensville

John Carter National Party Local Government Spokesman

18 September 2006

Farcical ditching of Auck plan shows need for bill

The ditching of the week-old plan for one greater council for Auckland shows the need for legislation that will let Aucklanders decide for themselves whether the current local government structure is right for the city, says Helensville MP John Key.

Mr Key has a bill in the Member's ballot which establishes a taskforce to develop a plan to reform local government in greater Auckland. The proposal would be put to a referendum during the 2007 local body elections.

"This bill is about delivering a world-class local government structure for Auckland," says Mr Key. "The need for such reform is urgent and Labour's half-hearted attempts to address chaos in things like transport have proven to be a flop.

"The Prime Minister fronted a meeting with some Auckland mayors recently, but the ditching of the plan for one greater council when it was just a week old is unbelievable.

"It shows that the mayors seem incapable of getting together and sorting out their differences for the good of the wider Auckland region.

"That surely means it's time for a local government structure that is decided by the city's residents through my proposal for a referendum.

"It is critical for New Zealand that Auckland has the world-class infrastructure and services of cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane so it can attract and keep businesses and skilled workers. It is critical for New Zealand that Auckland is successful."

National's Local Government spokesman, John Carter, says the bill shows that National has a willingness to engage with local communities and is a blueprint for consultation on local government reform.

"It just shows how farcical the whole situation was. It was all about political manoeuvring by the Prime Minister to shift focus away from their pledge card and Field controversies and onto anything else.

"Ratepayers would welcome the opportunity to learn more about the pros and cons of merging - and a chance to vote on any proposed structure."

ENDS

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