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Local government legislation will undermine local democracy


12th June 2012 - For Immediate Use

Local government legislation will undermine local democracy

The Public Service Association says the Government is pushing through uncalled for legislation on local government which will only serve to undermine local democracy and decision-making.

The Local Government Act Amendment Bill 2002, which sets out a number of local government reforms is having its first reading in parliament today.

The PSA says the legislation is in response to a perception created by government that local government is in crisis with out of control debt and rates and staffing blowouts. The reality is that most councils are operating within prudent levels of debt and rate increase margins.

The PSA is concerned by moves which will enable councillor to set policy on staff numbers and salary levels.

That extends the government’s public service cap ideology into local government,” says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

“We’ve already seen caps on staffing numbers in central government putting immense pressure on workers and duplicating that in local government will only make it harder for councils to provide the services that their communities want and ask for.”

She adds “when it comes to staffing there are actually fewer local council staff than when National took office in 2008 and fewer than back in 1989, when the population was much lower.”

The PSA is also concerned that the legislation is being pushed through parliament with almost no prior consultation or public debate, and ahead of a number of reviews which are due to look at the efficiency and role of local government.

"This appears to be a clear attempt by central government to exert more control and power over local authorities by lowering the threshold for government interference. It will put councils on a short leash which seems to run counter to the purpose of having democratically elected and accountable local bodies,” Brenda Pilott says.

The PSA will be making a full submission on the Local Government Amendment Bill outlining the concerns of its members, during the select committee process.


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