INDEPENDENT NEWS

Government Must Rethink Local Government Reform

Published: Mon 15 Oct 2001 05:49 PM
MEDIA RELEASE
Government Must Rethink Local Government Reform
"The key lesson to take from the low turnout in the local government elections is not that voters are apathetic but that democratic processes and accountability at the local government level are weak", Roger Kerr, executive director of the New Zealand Business Roundtable, said today.
"The business sector is particularly disenfranchised even though it pays around 50 percent of council rates. It is grossly discriminated against by differential rating in many of the main centres and in some rural districts.
"The Controller and Auditor-General has reported a widespread perception, which the business community shares, that the consultation process of councils on their annual plans is a sham.
"In these circumstances the last thing the government should be doing is conferring even wider roles and powers on local government", Mr Kerr said.
"To the contrary, councils should be refocused on their core public good roles. They should not be involved in the provision of private goods and services. If councils were less overstretched they would perform their core roles better and voters would be more able to monitor and engage with them.
"To date there has been minimal consultation by the government with the business community about its plans to give local government more expansive powers. Business organisations are seeking close involvement with the next stages of the review of the Local Government Act, and the election turnout highlights the need for the government to rethink its directions", Mr Kerr concluded.
For further information:
Mr Roger Kerr
Executive Director
New Zealand Business Roundtable
Tel: (04) 499-0790
15 October 2001

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