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Government anti-local government and anti-democracy

29 October 2012

Government anti-local government and anti-democracy

The real agenda behind the increased powers of Ministerial intervention in National’s Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill is now clear, the Green Party said today.

“The Government suspended regional democracy in Canterbury in order to implement its irrigation expansion agenda when councillors weren’t doing this fast enough,” said Green Party local government spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“National’s Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill, which it is pushing through against immense opposition, will make it much easier for the Minister to interfere with and dominate councils to implement the Government’s policy programme.

“The Minister claimed that regional democracy in Canterbury should not be reinstated because the Commissioners were “stable, effective and efficient”. We now know that it was because the National Ministers wanted to achieve their own agenda without public accountability.

“This sets a very low benchmark for the removal of democracy when the imposition of one policy, in this case expanding irrigation, overrides all other considerations.

“The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill has a loose definition of the types of “problem” in councils which can trigger Ministerial intervention. It sets a very low threshold for Ministerial interference, and gives the Minister wide scope to intervene and push central government priorities.

“National is anti-local government and anti-democratic.

“The list is growing: the Government removed ECan elections; gave draconian powers to CERA which have continued long after the emergency, crippling the role of elected councillors in Christchurch’s rebuild; and is pushing anti-local government legislation through Parliament. On top of this, Ministers have decided that they, not the elected councillors, will appoint the influential hearing commissioners on the Auckland Plan.

“National does not respect local government and is attacking it on all fronts.

“Any region in New Zealand could be moved towards a solely economic growth model if you axe elected representatives.

“The National Government’s inappropriate interference in Canterbury leaves little doubt in my mind that it will do the same to other communities.

“We need to strengthen our democratic tradition and allow councils to continue to promote the four wellbeings - environmental, economic, social and cultural - which are the foundation of a healthy society; not dump on democracy as National is doing,” said Ms Sage.

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