INDEPENDENT NEWS

ACT Outlines Flaws of Local Government Bill

Published: Mon 2 Dec 2002 02:06 PM
ACT Outlines Flaws of Local Government Bill
ACT New Zealand will strenuously oppose the passage of the Local Government Bill, which the Labour Government proposes to ram through Parliament under urgency before Christmas, ACT Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said today.
"This 357-page Bill is massive, comprising 293 clauses and 21 schedules - some of which are bigger than most Bills.
"ACT New Zealand MPs have spoken out against this legislation since it was first mooted. ACT New Zealand believes the purposes and principals of the bill, outlined in parts 1 and 2, are conceptually flawed. This legislation goes the core of the philosophical debate between the rights of the individual in society versus the power of the collective to restrict, control, direct and influence our lives.
"By granting the powers of general competence to local government, individual freedoms are put at risk. If official powers are not carefully prescribed and restrained at all levels of government, then they can destroy the very essence they were established to protect. Local authorities should not be empowered to establish and operate commercial ventures underwritten by the ratepayer and in competition with the private sector.
"While decision making and accountability procedures are important, part 15 of this bill introduces excessively convoluted procedures which are predicted to greatly increase administration costs of local government. The long standing principle of representative democracy is debased and diminished by the excessive requirements for "community consultation" at all levels of decision making.
"ACT New Zealand opposes the provisions of part 7 which place unnecessary restrictions on the disposal of parks and council-owned housing. Equally we see no good reason why councils should be forced to own and operate water and sewer networks, even when it is shown that alternative arrangements could provide improved services at lower costs.
"These provisions are nothing more than socialist dogma overriding common sense. They are pandering to far-left politics in Auckland. Mayor John Banks' initiative to get the Council out of housing erupted in controversy, and Bob Harvey is terrified his price gouging on the provision of water will be exposed. "Watercare Services harvests, treats and delivers the bulk water for 45 cents per cubic metre but in Waitakere, Bob Harvey's council retail that same water for an average price of $1.47 per cubic metre.
ACT New Zealand strenuously opposes amendments to the Local Electoral Act contained in part 13, making provision for separate representation by Maori. We oppose all laws that confer privilege or disadvantage to any group in society based on their ethnicity. We believe that such provision contravenes Article III of the Treaty of Waitangi which conferred equal rights and responsibilities before the law on all citizens," Mr Shirley said.

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