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Let Auckland decide on local government changes

24 April 2009 Media Statement

Let Auckland decide on local government changes

The National-Act Government should seek a mandate from Aucklanders before fundamentally restructuring local government in Auckland, says Labour leader Phil Goff.

"Section 49 of the Local Government Act 2002 provides for a poll of electors to be held before reorganisation of local government occurs," he says.

"If the National-Act Government has the courage of its convictions, it will seek a mandate for what they are proposing rather than simply ramming changes through by special legislation.

"National promised in its election manifesto that it would consult with Aucklanders when the recommendations of the Royal Commission were known. It has not honoured that promise.

"The Royal Commission consulted widely and undertook extensive analysis over 18 months before making its recommendations. These were changed fundamentally by National in a week without further analysis or consultation, even with key players in local government.

"A referendum would force Mr Key and Mr Hide to consider the acceptability to Aucklanders of all their recommendations, rather than just forcing them through," Mr Goff said.

"The reorganisation has been estimated to cost every Aucklander $550 extra in rates, yet those who are expected to pay aren't even being consulted about the changes.

"It should be a case of no taxation without representation.

"Aucklanders have the legal right to have their voice heard by referendum. That should be respected by National and Act rather than subjecting Aucklanders to their bullying tactics.

"We have one chance to get Auckland's new governance structure right. That means taking the time it needs for Aucklanders to participate in the process, have their voices heard and for a reasonable level of consensus to be achieved.

"For many Aucklanders, the current proposals look like a jack up between National and Act leaders, Mayor John Banks and a small but powerful business elite.

"Under the law, Aucklanders have the democratic right to voice their opinions over major changes to their city that they will be required to pay for.

"This should not be overridden by central government arrogantly legislating that right out of existence," Phil Goff said.

ENDS

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