The power of local
2 October 2013
The power of local
The Green Party welcomes the New Zealand Initiative’s (NZI) paper ‘A Global Perspective on Localism’, as a timely contribution to the debate on the future of local government in New Zealand.
The paper, by NZI director Dr Oliver Hartwich, is being launched at an event in Wellington this evening. It notes that only Greece and Ireland are more centralised than New Zealand in terms of public spending and they are not a model for economic success. It also states that local government in New Zealand is only responsible for 11 percent of public spending, less than half the OECD average of 30 percent.
“Local government is marginalised in New Zealand and the National Government is making this worse by centralising more and more power in the Beehive,” Green Party local government spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.
“National’s changes to the Local Government Act, Resource Management Act, Land Transport Act and the recent Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act all increase centralisation and Ministerial power at the expense of local democracy and decision making by local councils.
“There are various proposals for re-organising local councils, including in Northland, Hawke’s Bay and Greater Wellington. Too often these proposals are based on an unproved assumption that bigger is better. That is not always true and may actually result in the erosion of local democracy.
“A strong local democracy with engaged communities and a healthy environment are the engine room of our success as a country.
“Debate about how to strengthen local government should be a priority and include a strategic approach to any reorganisations of councils and a forward looking discussion of revenue sharing between central and local government.
“The Green Party believes that local government matters, it is the embodiment of local democracy and at the heart of many of the economic, environmental and social debates we face as a nation.
“Instead of attacking local government and encouraging the merging of councils, the National Government should be looking at how to support local government to achieve great outcomes for communities,” Ms Sage said.