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Modernisation not Constitutional Change

Local Government Bill will bring Modernisation not Constitutional Change

The Chief Executive of Local Government New Zealand, Peter Winder, said that the passing of the Local Government Bill will bring a long awaited modernisation of the local government sector not a Constitutional change.

“We’ve been asking for this review for a long time as the current legislation is archaic and arcane. The current prescriptive Act generously allows Councils to build a town clock but not to fix it. It’s time to grow up and complete the modernisation of local government – a process that began with reorganisation in 1989 and more recently with the passage of the new rating and electoral statutes,” Mr Winder said.

“While the new legislation brings change, and there are always costs associated with change, we are uncertain whether the changes will translate into ongoing costs; it depends on how the Bill is reported back. The new legislation however, does not introduce new powers so I am at a loss to explain why there is concern about Councils undertaking new activities,” said Mr Winder.

The Bill also provides for stronger accountability measures and no new revenue. To take on any additional activities a Council will have to either stop something it is already doing or go to the electorate with a rate increase.

Local Government New Zealand President Mayor Basil Morrison said “The ballot box soon sorts out people who increase rates for projects that do not have the support of their community.”

“An extensive consultation process has been undertaken, including two public discussion rounds and the Select Committee process of receiving and examining submissions. Like many other submitters, Local Government New Zealand has a number of concerns over aspects of the Bill and hopes that will be addressed by the Select Committee. Until we see the Committee’s work it is very difficult to comment further,” Mr Winder said.

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