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Maharey urges local govt to lead on social issues

11 July 2000 Media Statement

Maharey urges local government to lead on social issues

Local leadership and active community involvement are the keys to resolving social issues, says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

Speaking at the Local Government New Zealand conference in Christchurch today Mr Maharey urged local government to take the same interest in social issues as they are beginning to do in the economic area.

"Local government used to be about roads, rats and rates. Now any self-respecting local council sees employment as an issue it needs to take leadership in. The same emphasis needs to apply in social issues.

"Social spending has to be about finding lasting solutions to problems such as truancy, teenage pregnancy and elder abuse. Partnership with local government is essential if we are to get results.

Mr Maharey said that local leadership did not mean government walking away from its responsibilities.

"On the contrary central government needs to be an active partner providing both people and resources. Central government must also be prepared to decentralise and devolve its own activities. This is why the Department of Work and Income is being regionalised and why Child, Youth and Family will be running devolved funding pilots in six communities this year.

"Successful examples already operating which point to the partnership model this Government wants to promote strongly include the Opotiki Development Project and the Actionworks scheme in Canterbury.

"In both these examples local councils have taken the initiative and have been backed by central government. They typify the change we as a new Government want to promote – local economic and social investment in partnership with central government to improve the wellbeing of our communities," Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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