Local Government reforms will sideline local communities
Dr Pita Sharples
Maori Party Co-Leader | MP for Tamaki Makaurau
19 March 2012
Local Government reforms will sideline local communities - Māori Party
Māori Party Co-leader Dr Pita Sharples says efficient local government depends on strong communities, and proposed reforms will sideline them.
“We are strongly opposed to government requirements for cheap local government, that take no account of whānau and community well-being and resilience,” said Dr Sharples.
“The new purposes of Local Government are to be achieved ‘at the least possible cost’ to households and businesses, by focusing on infrastructure, and deleting references to the social, cultural and environmental well-being of communities.
“But cutting financial costs today can leave a huge legacy of social and environmental damage for future generations to put right,” he said.
“Neither central nor local government has reliable ways to measure the social, cultural or environmental costs of their policies. These proposed reforms will give New Zealanders a ‘budget’ form of local government run by regional business roundtables; while central government over-rides local knowledge, traditions and values.
“There are many things councils do now, in social housing, recreation and arts and culture, to make cities and regions more liveable, attractive and healthy, that have huge economic benefits – but those things will not be accounted for under the new statutory regime,” he said.
“The work programmes of Māori standing committees and advisory bodies in the local government system will fall outside the newly defined purpose of local government – so their role will be reduced, contrary to the Crown’s Treaty guarantee that tangata whenua can have a democratic say in decisions that affect their customary rights and interests,” said Dr Sharples.
“Given that many Treaty issues are local issues, such as land and waters, I think tangata whenua will have serious concerns about their future role in local government. And these changes are happening without proper consultation.
“The Māori Party approach to community development is to invest in whānau and communities, to empower them to be more responsible and self-governing, and to reduce their dependence on central and local government support,” he said.