Political parties' views on local government
In April national secretary Brenda Pilott and policy advisor Glenn Barclay met with Paula Bennett (Minister of Local Government), Su’a William Sio (Labour Party spokesperson), Eugenie Sage (Green Party spokesperson) and Andrew Williams (NZ First Party spokesperson).
A summary of the main points from these meetings is set out below, but in most cases formal party policy is being firmed up and so the information is indicative only.
• After a period of significant reform in local government the National Party was not planning any further big changes. The changes had to be given time to bed in. However, they would be giving consideration to the recommendations of the Productivity Commission (which included a tool for helping to decide what regulations are best performed by Government or councils; more focus by government departments, when preparing new regulation intended to be implemented by councils, on the impact on local authorities and their capacity to implement it; and the development of a ‘Partners in Regulation’ protocol to better guide Government/council engagement) and may want to tweak the Auckland governance model.
• Labour would probably repeal the worst of the government’s reforms and restore the 4 well-beings. This general approach appears to be supported by the other opposition parties.
• There is common concern among opposition parties about the current legislative settings around amalgamation. No one appears to support what is happening in Northland and Hawkes Bay and all want a greater role for local democracy through referenda of those most affected.
• There are a variety of views around the role of local boards. The opposition parties tend to be more concerned about their lack of powers, while National seems be concerned that they might have too much.
• Opposition parties seem to be open to exploring alternative ways in which local authorities can raise revenue.
• All parties seem to be open to a conversation about the respective roles of local and central government, although their expectations as to how that might happen or what might come out of that conversation, could be different.
• Opposition parties appear to be open to the idea of a stronger level of co-ordination among local authorities, which might also allow for local government based interventions to support under-performing councils.
• There is support for the Living Wage from opposition parties.
Big changes are happening in local government
The government is making big changes to local government. These have the potential to affect your working lives and the communities you live in.
- The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Act has been passed. It requires councils to focus only on certain issues, cap spending and borrowing, limit staff numbers and pay and make it easier to go ahead with amalgamations and shared services.
- There is another Amendment Bill in Parliament which will make further changes.
- The process of Council amalgamations has started in some regions.
There are also a number of government working groups and reports looking at local government.
For more information see Changes to Local Government: click here.