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Consultation Document Nears Completion

Legislative Reform Newsletter No 3
Consultation Document Nears Completion

The public consultation document on the Review of the Local Government Act will be officially launched on 14 June 2001.

Working groups from central and local government have now completed the policy development work for the Review, paving the way for consultation to begin.

The consultation phase is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the proposed direction for local government, seek feedback on specific proposals and options, and ensure that important issues have been identified.

Once the document is released the public will have until 30 August 2001 to have their say.

Issues to be Considered

The document will cover a range of policy issues which have been discussed by Cabinet Committees over recent months. Nine papers were considered at a Cabinet Policy Committee meeting on 23 May. These covered the full range of issues necessary to enable a new Act to be developed. The issues ranged from the nature of the broadly empowering provision to be a cornerstone of the Act, through to the nature of the decision making processes and accountability requirements that should be put in place.

These papers build on earlier decisions and, together with papers considered previously, form the basis of the consultation document.

Three papers were considered in October 2000 and led to the release of the Statement of Policy Direction in November 2000. Papers on the General Empowerment of Local Government and Central Government Interventions and Reorganisation Procedures were considered in April 2001.

Local Government New Zealand Briefing on Review

Local Government New Zealand is holding an exclusive Briefing for Mayors/Chairs and chief executives on the afternoon of 14 June 2001 to give an overview of the LGA Review consultation document.

It is hoped the Briefing will serve as an introduction to the document, stimulate discussion about what the changes might mean for the sector, and give an indication of the initial response at a national level.

This Briefing will also assist councils to present the national perspective at the local workshops being organised to review the consultation document.

These workshops, in turn, will ensure that delegates attending the Local Government New Zealand Conference on 16-18 July 2001 are well briefed and prepared to enter the national debate on the proposed changes and to help draft a sector submission.

For more information about both the Briefing and the Local Government New Zealand Conference you can check out the Local Government New Zealand website www.lgnz.co.nz.

The Public Consultation Programme

Public participation is a key part of the Review process. The Department of Internal Affairs is running a nationwide consultation programme to encourage people to take an active part in the process and to make submissions on the Review.

The consultation document itself forms the basis of this programme. The document will be mailed directly to a wide range of individuals and organisations who have an interest in the Act. The mailing lists are being developed in consultation with the Minister, Local Government New Zealand and the local government sector.

The mailings will include the document itself, an executive summary, and information about public meetings at which DIA staff will facilitate discussion about the Review. The meetings will also be advertised in newspapers and on radio.

The consultation meetings will target the general public, the local government sector, Maori, Pacific Island and ethnic communities.

The Local Government New Zealand Conference scheduled for 16 - 18 July in Wellington will also be an opportunity to inform people about the Review.

We welcome suggestions about other target groups who may be interested in public meetings, or who can be reached by direct mail, email or other appropriate means.

All documentation and meeting information will be posted on the DIA website, www.dia.govt.nz, with a link to the Local Government New Zealand site, www.lgnz.co.nz. A freephone number, 0800 562 254, is available to take questions about the Review process and names and addresses of people who would be interested in receiving information.

The media will be kept informed about the Review and encouraged to cover the consultation programme.

Local Electoral Bill

This Bill, which concerns the way in which local elections and polls are run, was passed by the House today (24 May 2001) and will be enacted for the October 2001 council elections.

Funding Powers Review

Drafting of the new Bill is proceeding on target, with new legislation scheduled to be introduced to the House by the end of June 2001. The scope of this review is limited to the mechanisms by which councils can raise revenue and the associated issues such as rating exemptions and the rating of Maori land. Background information on this review is provided in Update No. 1

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