Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Local government reforms ‘simplistic’, says academic

March 20, 2012

Local government reforms ‘simplistic’, says academic

The Better Local Government reforms announced by Prime Minister John Key yesterday are “simplistic”, according to Dr Andy Asquith, a local government and public management specialist from Massey University.

Dr Asquith says the central government is ignoring the key issues that continue to weaken local government.

“The key issues that could redress the weaknesses identified in their paper – continued disconnection between local government and its citizens, and confusion over the roles of mayors and councillors – are completely ignored,” he says.

“Declining voter turnout in local elections is clear evidence of these issues. While the paper does propose nine reforms to the role of mayors post 2013, along the lines of the Auckland model, these are hardly radical and, in effect, do little more than formalise practices found in many local authorities already.”

Dr Asquith is disappointed that debate around the level of rates increases ignores the 96 recommendations for financial best practice made by the 2007 Shand Report into local government rating.

“This report was presented to the last Labour government and now three governments – the Clark government and two successive Key governments – have effectively written off this important piece of research,” he says.

“There is also much political comment and media coverage surrounding the levels of council debt, but given the asset base of our local authorities, the debt they carry is not unusually high.”

Dr Asquith says the government also assumes all local councils directly undertake activity to enhance the social, economic, cultural and environmental wellbeing of their citizens. In fact, he says, that assumption is wrong.

“The Local Government Act 2002 may give local authorities the power to do those things, but in reality they don’t have the resources or the expertise so they partner with a range of appropriate stakeholders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors,” he says.

“And as the only democratically-elected bodies within an area, local authorities have a unique position of legitimacy to undertake these actions on behalf of their citizens.”

Dr Asquith is a senior lecturer at Massey University’s School of Management, and is about to publish a paper titled The Role, Scope and Scale of Local Government in New Zealand: Its Prospective Future in the peer-reviewed Australian Journal of Public Administration.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Rivals For The Covid Saliva Testing Dollar

If you want a good insight into what the limits of tiny, barely discernible steps to reduce poverty actually look like, delve into the latest Statistics Department figures on poverty in New Zealand Most of the nine measures utilised reveal little or no progress in combatting poverty over the 21 months to March 2020... More>>


Government: Reserve Bank To Take Account Of Housing In Decision Making

The Reserve Bank is now required to consider the impact on housing when making monetary and financial policy decisions, Grant Robertson announced today. Changes have been made to the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee’s remit requiring it to take into ... More>>


RNZ: Alert Levels Remain

There are no new community cases of Covid-19 today, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says at least half of the Papatoetoe High School community have been tested and the results that have come through so far have all been negative... More>>


Stats NZ: Latest Release Of Child Poverty Statistics

All measures of child poverty were trending downwards, prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, across the two years since year ended June 2018, Stats NZ said today. The COVID-19 lockdown in late March 2020 affected Stats NZ’s ability to collect data from households ... More>>


NZ Initiative: New Report Highlights How Our Housing Crisis Could Worsen If We Don’t Act Now

If New Zealand politicians thought the housing crisis in 2020 was bad, the worst is yet to come, warns a new report by The New Zealand Initiative. In The Need to Build: The demographic drivers of housing demand , Research Assistant Leonard Hong ... More>>

Parliament: Kiwi MPs Among The “Most Educated In The World”

New analysis of MP qualifications reveals New Zealand’s Parliament is one of the most educated and highest qualified in the world, and significantly more educated than Australia’s. The research, by Mark Blackham of BlacklandPR and Geoffrey Miller ... More>>

The Dig: An Illogical Ideological Struggle

Dig beneath all the trade wars and the arguments to the effect that the USA should not permit China to achieve economic and technological superiority, or even parity, and you find the real reason behind the conflict... More>>

Travel: Government Eases Visa Restrictions For Visitors In New Zealand

Visitor visa holders will be able to stay in New Zealand a little longer as the Government eases restrictions for those still here, the Minister of Immigration has announced. More>>




InfoPages News Channels