Local Government

August 5, 2016

Tom O’ConnorTom O’Connor

With local body elections being held on October 8 it is timely to remind all members that one of our most important objectives is to improve the affordability of rates.

We have had a number of ideas and suggestions presented for our consideration and we have had long and detailed debates on most of them. Most of the ideas we have considered had merit, a few were simply unworkable and all were the result of many hours of hard work and investigation by dedicated people. We have also had discussions with Local Government New Zealand on a wide range of ways to keep rates down without compromising the provision of essential facilities and services.

There are no easy or single solutions but we have recently been presented with an additional and very serious complication.

The Government has introduced a Bill to Parliament which, if passed into law, will remove much of our right and ability to have any say at all in how our local bodies operate. The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) includes a proposal to extend the powers of the Local Government Commission to re-structure district councils without consultation with rate payers.

That means in effect that the Local Government Commission could require neighbouring district councils to amalgamate some or all of their functions and ratepayers would have no say in the process. Government interference which resulted the Auckland Super City experiment and commissioners to replace the elected Canterbury Regional Council back in 2010, have only served to push rates up and reduce efficiency. This new proposal would also make it near to impossible for ratepayers to control or even influence the cost of local government.

While we don’t always agree with our local councils we must not lose the right to have our own local government and to elect who we want to represent us locally.

We have made a submission to the Select Committee considering the Bill and given our support to Local Government New Zealand which has opposed the Bill.

Tom O'Connor
Former National President
Grey Power Federation

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