Local Government changes ignore needs of provincial NZ
Dunedin South MP
Dunedin North MP
30 November 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT
Local Government changes ignore needs of provincial New Zealand
Changes to the Local Government Act passed through Parliament this week ignore the concerns and criticisms of provincial Mayors and councils says Labour MP Dr David Clark.
"The message from provincial leaders was that the changes in this Bill undermine the very viability of effective local government in provincial New Zealand.
“The select committee was told in no uncertain terms that the National Government's "one size fits all" approach will not deliver for the unique and diverse needs of the provinces.
Dunedin South Labour MP, Clare Curran concurs “That message has been ignored by Government.
“It is provincial and rural Councils that most need the flexibility that the existing law provided to respond to the special needs of small or isolated communities. For example the Ashburton District Council runs medical clinics in Rakaia and Methven – without the Council doing this those communities would have no access to health services,” she said.
"The National government claims that the changes, which include the removal of the social, cultural, environmental and economic “wellbeings” are needed to rein in out of control spending and debt amongst local authorities. However the figures they used as the basis for these claims were so dodgy that the Ministry had to remove them from its website,”
"Likewise claims that Local Government activities have expanded dramatically and driven up rates since Labour introduced the four well-beings are not borne out by the evidence.” Says Dr Clark
“The four well-beings have allowed each local authority to decide for themselves what the priorities are for their communities rather than have priorities dictated from Wellington.”
Clare Curran adds "The removal of the four well beings also threatens effective initiatives such as the Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs which has done more to address rising youth unemployment than anything the Government has managed over the last four years.”
“Rates increases have been due to infrastructure demands on councils and requirements imposed on local government by central government without the associated funding attached.
"If the National Government are really concerned about rates increases then they should restore the funding for local roads that they sucked out of provincial New Zealand to pay for their uneconomic 'Roads of National Significance'.
We know local Government is not broken in New Zealand. The Government has rushed through changes that will gut local government, threaten local democracy, undermine investment in infrastructure, and do absolutely nothing to reduce rates. Once again the National Government is ignoring the needs of provincial New Zealand.