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Enshrine Local Government Into Construction

Major changes are in the wind with the Labour government is giving itself unprecedented powers over local government. This is worrying and why KCDC Councillor Bernie Randall and Deputy Chair of the Paraparaumu/Raumati Community Board Guy Burns are calling for local government to be entrenched within the New Zealand Constitution Act.

There are perils ahead regarding the proposed Three Waters project which is being fast-tracked upon local government. This is a project where drinking water, stormwater and waste water will be taken from local councils and administered nationally. There are also big changes signalled to the Resource Management Act as well as a major review into the future of local government. These changes diminish local decision making by giving unprecedented powers to central government.

A Labour government has never been afraid of its local government counterparts. Parliament could abolish all 78 councils if it really wanted to. Such powers were last used in 1989 when parliament amalgamated 850 local bodes into 86.

The concentration of power to the central state will weaken democracy and make local leaders dependent on the whims of central government and its ministers. Having the principles of local government entrenched into a Constitution will forestall any attempt to diminish local government in favour of centralised rule.

The New Zealand Constitution Act 1986 could be amended to recognise and strengthen local government’s role in the governance of the nation. A statute which is fixed cannot be changed unless that change is supported by 75 per cent of parliamentarians. Councillor Bernie Randall and Deputy Chair Guy Burns believe that the Local Government Act should be entrenched.

Councils represent all the people of New Zealand. In 2013 local authorities voted unanimously in support of a remit that local Government New Zealand promote an amendment to the Constitution Act 1986 giving constitutional expression to local government. Such change is commended as local government must be safe guarded from any future constitutional arrangements that will emerge out of the current major reviews and plans currently being dictated at local councils.

OPINION by:

Guy Burns

Deputy Chair Raumati Paraparaumu Community Board

and

Bernie Randall

Kapiti Coast District Council Councillor

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