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Hide must explain privatisation agenda

George Hawkins
Local Government Spokesperson

28 October 2009 Media release
Hide must explain privatisation agenda

Community opposition appears to have forced Rodney Hide to back down on most of his plans for local government reform, but a huge question mark remains over his privatisation agenda, says Labour’s Local Government spokesperson George Hawkins.

“Mr Hide confirmed today that his plans to introduce regular referenda and polls around council spending have been rejected by Cabinet. His plans to introduce rate-capping mechanisms also appear to have been shelved.

“Mr Hide also appears to have been forced to back down on his proposals to reduce councils to the delivery of core services only. He claims his legislative reforms to the Local Government Act, due to be introduced by the end of the year, will still require councils to focus on core functions,” says George Hawkins.

“But today’s muddled attempt to define core services provides little clarity on this front and it appears the minister is engaging on something of a smoke and mirrors exercise.

“What is clear is that widespread public and local government opposition to many of his proposals have forced him into an embarrassing back down.

“There will however be significant public concern over the many unanswered questions in today’s announcement around Mr Hide’s oft-stated desire to privatise council assets,” says George Hawkins.

“Mr Hide confirmed that he would change the law to facilitate public-private ownership of water and wastewater assets and that he will extend the 15 year limit on water service contracts to 35 years. Water is an extremely valuable resource and ratepayers deserve many more answers around the changes being proposed than Mr Hide has provided.

“Mr Hide was also silent on other plans he has previously mooted to reduce requirements on councils to consult with the public before privatising other assets. Once again, the full story needs to be told.

“New Zealanders have been quite clear that they oppose the sale of significant council-owned assets and Mr Hide needs to tell the public what has happened to his plans to allow this to happen,” George Hawkins said.


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