Forcing amalgamation on democracies is undemocratic

A private member’s bill that would have put more democracy back into local council amalgamations was voted down in Parliament last night, says Labour MP Stuart Nash.

“My private members bill Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Amendment Bill failed to pass by one vote .  

“The bill sought to return Local Government legislation back to how it was pre-2012, where for a council amalgamation to occur, there needed to be a majority in each jurisdiction, whereas now there only needs to be a majority across the region. 

“For me, local government is about local communities having the ability to determine their own future, as opposed to having an amalgamation forced upon them, which can now happen due to the 2012 changes to the Local Government Act.  I just don’t think forcing amalgamation on any council is democratic. 

“Labour, Greens, the Maori Party and NZ First voted for the Bill but unfortunately, Peter Dunne and David Seymour voted against it.  It’s a real shame because the Bill sought to legislate the official policy of Local Government New Zealand, which represents the nation’s mayors and councillors. 

“In fact, a number of the National speakers who opposed the Bill actually gave speeches which seemed, on the surface, to support the proposition, but it was plainly obvious that they hadn’t spoken to their local mayors and councillors and were just following the party line.  I suppose the disappointing thing is that either Act’s David Seymour or Peter Dunne could have sent this to Select committee for the people of New Zealand to have their say on whether local democracy is important or not, but neither chose to take a stand against their National masters,” says Stuart Nash.