Minister needs to be clear on reform benefits

The Government’s reforms for local government lack a coherent strategy, appear to be ideologically driven and fail to state what benefits they will provide communities, Labour’s Local Government spokesperson Meka Whaitiri says.

“The Local Government Minister’s new Better Local Services package is all over the place.

“It acknowledges the Local Government Commission’s recent failed amalgamation proposals in Wellington, Northland and Hawke’s Bay, yet still gives it more powers to initiate reorganisations.

“How does increasing the powers of an unelected body benefit local democracy?

“Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga also states local authorities need new ways to manage finances. However last December financial analysis by the Local Government Funding Agency found local councils across New Zealand are managing ratepayers’ money prudently.

“Local Government New Zealand has been doing some great advocacy work in the sector and their 10 Point Plan for local government funding is an initiative Labour supports.

“This package doesn’t appear to build on any of their policy priorities or their 10 Point Plan.

“Sam Lotu-Iiga needs to provide some clear community benefits if he’s to gain support for these reforms,” says Meka Whaitiri.