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Council Amalgamations Still Bad Deal

Council Amalgamations Still Bad Deal

Northland, Bay of Plenty, and Wellington ratepayers should not be seduced into accepting the amalgamation of their Councils by a recent amendment to legislation allowing for local boards not community boards, Chris Leitch, Democrats for Social Credit regional development spokesman, and Whangarei candidate said today.

While local boards have a few more decision making powers and specific budgets, people should realise that the agenda is to have fewer councils so that central government can more easily have control over them.

The attitude of the Minister for the Environment Amy Adams to councils putting protections in place on genetically modified organisms is a classic example.

The Minister is proposing to block this capacity and impose a "one-size-fits-all' approach, effectively caving in to lobbying from powerful interests in the biotechnology industry including companies like Monsanto.

She has said she will change the Resource Management Act (RMA) to disallow any ruling on genetically modified organisms by councils, arguing that such a ruling was the place of the central government under the Hazardous Substance and New Organisms Act (HSNO).

With fewer councils to deal with, imposing a central government position will be much easier.

Of major concern is the real risk that under trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which is being negotiated in secret by the government, a local community’s ability to block a chemical manufacturing plant, a rubbish burning facility, or a mining operation, on environmental grounds will become impossible.

Amalgamation of Councils is not “reform” at all. It’s still a bad deal for democracy, for the ability of ratepayers to access the decision makers, and for local communities to have control over what goes on in their own backyard.


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