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Central Government Living In Denial About State Of Local Government

With Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta today ruling out a Royal Commission on Local Government, Cr Gwynn Compton, who made the call for a Royal Commission three weeks ago, says the Government’s refusal demonstrates it is living in denial about the scale of the issues facing the local government sector.

“In just the three weeks since I called for a Royal Commission on Local Government we’ve already seen a commissioner installed in Tauranga, external observers appointed in Invercargill, and Auckland, New Plymouth, and Wellington City all facing major hikes to their annual rates increases to deal with issues that have been created by the very system of local government which is in desperate need of an overhaul,” says Cr Compton.

“These issues are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s to come. Local government is already grappling with reforms to the Three Waters and Resource Management Act, which on their own will necessitate massive changes to the sector. On top of that, there are the significant matters of adapting to and mitigating climate change, and responding to rapid population growth across Aotearoa. Our current local government model, which was designed in the 1980s, needs a fundamental overhaul if it's to meet the challenges of the 21st century."

Cr Compton has also challenged the Minister’s response that the state of the local government sector isn’t high enough to meet the threshold of a Royal Commission, saying that the current situation far exceeds the threshold already established from when the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance was announced in 2007.

“Local government across New Zealand in 2020 is confronting far greater challenges and dealing with significantly bigger issues than those faced by Auckland in July 2007 when the Government of then Prime Minister Helen Clark announced a Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.

"When a sector that spends nearly $12 billion a year and is responsible for more than $150 billion worth of community assets and infrastructure is nearly at breaking point, it more than meets the bar for a Royal Commission," says Cr Compton.

“Auckland’s experience demonstrates that a Royal Commission is the only vehicle which carries the necessary political weight to meaningfully overhaul this complex sector. It’s time for the Government to finally show some leadership and put in place a Royal Commission on Local Government.”

Cr Compton’s views on this represent his own personal ones and are not necessarily those of the Kāpiti Coast District Council.

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