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Local Government Bill – Serving Who?

Local Government Bill – Serving Who?

The Council Housing Action Group (CHAG) is urging the government to allow further submissions to the Local Government Bill. The news that only Local Government NZ and the Local Government Forum are going to be allowed to have their submissions reheard for the benefit of new members of the select committee is seen as pandering to the lobbying powers of moneyed and well-connected interests.

This does not bode well for democracy in the future under the new Act. If submissions are re-opened for one group of organisations we expect submissions to be re-heard from other interested groups and individuals.

What is the intention of this Bill? To allow Councils to do anything they want is very worrying in these days when global corporations are bullying national and local governments around the world to allow them to buy into and operate public services for a profit. To rely on consultation with the community and interest groups as the sole means of providing ‘checks and balances’ is quite inadequate. Consultation processes up to now have very much been regarded as a sham, and have helped to further alienate residents from political processes.

CHAG is particularly concerned that the Bill potentially allows Councils to abdicate from any social responsibility for their communities, as Auckland City Council is currently doing with their withdrawal from housing provision and other community based initiatives.

Any rewriting of the Local Government Act needs to inject greater democratic procedures at local government and community levels and help ensure that NZ society adheres to UN agreed baselines of community and social standards.

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