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LGNZ welcomes Prime Minister to local government conference

LGNZ welcomes Prime Minister to local government conference

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) was pleased to host the Prime Rt Hon John Key at the 2014 LGNZ Conference today in Nelson.

The Prime Minister addressed the audience of 550 delegates including mayors, chairs, chief executives, councillors and senior management from New Zealand's councils and stakeholders from the private sector, government and non-government agencies.

He announced the Rules Reduction Taskforce that Local Government Minister Paula Bennett will establish, a central government and local government review to improve regulation.

“The Government agrees wholeheartedly with the point made in LGNZ’s Election Manifesto that central and local government need regulations that are effective and that do not place onerous costs on communities. Too often regulations are confusing, change from region to region unnecessarily, and suck up councils’ precious resources in administration,” Rt Hon Key says.

“So today I am pleased to announce Local Government Minister Paula Bennett will establish a Central Government and Local Government review group known as the Rules Reduction Taskforce. This Taskforce will listen to local concerns and find opportunities to reduce and improve local regulation. It’s part of our response to the Productivity Commission’s report on Better Local Regulation, which Paula and Bill English released this morning. “

The Prime Minister says the Taskforce, which will comprise people from both central and local government, along with members of the community, will address local regulation that could be improved.

“We already know there are property owners up and down the country who are frustrated with the regulatory requirements they must meet, and the time and money it takes to complete transactions. The decisions that councils make on regulation affect the whole country. When local government sets requirements for building standards, for example, they can increase the cost of building, which affects house price inflation and potentially the track for interest rates and the exchange rate. Central government grapples with regulatory issues as well. So let’s work together to make life easier for ratepayers and pool our resources to tackle this issue together.”

He spoke about the importance of local government and central government working together on a range of issues that impact communities, regions and New Zealand’s economy.

“Things work best when we’re pulling in the same direction, which is why we put so much effort into our relationship with local government, especially by Paula Bennett and Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, who is here today,” Rt Hon Key says.

Central and local government have recently been working on roading, with the draft Government Policy Statement currently out for consultation, and work on improving housing affordability with Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act.

“This is in effect a joint initiative between central and local government to fast-track Special Housing Areas for new developments,” Rt Hon Key says.

“We’ve introduced the Earthquake-prone Buildings Amendment Bill to strike the right balance between protecting people from harm in an earthquake, and the costs of strengthening or removing buildings. I know this is an issue which has vexed local councils. No one wants to see councils or communities shoulder unnecessarily heavy financial burdens. So I’m also pleased that Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith has been working with mayors and LGNZ to work through the impacts of new legislation, particularly in regions where the risk of an earthquake is low.”

The Prime Minister says that while central and local government have different core functions, both face the same challenges.

“We have to be prudent as we operate within tight financial constraints. We have to be smarter with the resources we have got. And the needs of New Zealanders should be at the heart of what we do,” Rt Hon Key says.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule thanked the Prime Minister for his attendance and the strong working relationship the local government sector enjoys with him.

“Local government and central government need to work together to create shared national strategies on a number of policy areas to create vibrant communities and strong economies across all of New Zealand,” Mr Yule says.

“Local government welcomes the Government’s commitment to refine the Earthquake-prone Buildings Amendment Bill to strike the right balance between managing life risk and cost so that communities and councils are not overburdened with costs they cannot afford. We seek to ensure that the Bill reflects the different risk profiles of buildings and regions, and takes into account social and economic impacts alongside life safety.”

ENDS

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