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National gets in on ACT’s act

Annette King
Local Government Spokesperson

19 January 2012

National gets in on ACT’s act

Nick Smith’s so-called local government ‘reforms’ regurgitate the once loathed ideas of Rodney Hide, Labour’s Local Government spokesperson Annette King says.

“ACT’s former leader was a proponent of restricting Councils to core services. Provisions in his amendment to the Local Government Act 2002 were watered down - requiring Councils to have ‘particular regard to’ core services - by the very same bunch of people now telling local Councils to do exactly the opposite.

“Sticking to your knitting might make for efficient governance. But who’s to say what that knitting should be?

“John Key considers building national infrastructure, such as New Zealand’s cycleway to be a core council service. Nick Smith says water, roads footpaths and libraries are core functions.

“But there’s a long list of other activities that many communities feel should also come under the core service umbrella; things like environmental protection, swimming pools and council housing and events such as international arts and music festivals,” Annette King said.

“Councils have long term community plans, and those plans, which set out spending for 10 years ahead, are formulated after public consultation. Yet almost annually it seems, local government is being foisted with more responsibilities courtesy of central Government

“The sector has been reviewed and reviewed and reviewed…there are recommendations from six years ago that still haven’t be implemented.

“Now we have more recommendations, in the form of another list. This time there’s an 8-point plan outlining a raft of changes from narrowing the focus of local government to increasing the Minister’s power and potentially opening up capital works to privatisation.

“This is Nanny state. It is central Government stepping very heavily on the toes of local communities,” Annett King said.

ENDS

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