Legislation takes heart out of local government

Published: Fri 19 Nov 2010 01:49 PM
Legislation takes heart out of local government
By passing Rodney Hide’s Local Government Act (2002) Amendment bill in to law, the government has bulldozed ahead instead of slowing down and listening to the significant amount of public opposition to this crucial piece of legislation,” says New Zealand Public Service Association (NZPSA) National Secretary Brenda Pilott.
The amendment, which was passed into law yesterday (Thursday) after the government rushed the bill through Parliament under urgency, will fundamentally change the nature and scope of local government.
“When National came to power it promised an orderly process of government but what we’re seeing is one bill after another being rushed through under urgency. Legislation that involves our very process of democracy at a local level and the ownership of our water services deserves nothing less than a considered, thoughtful debate.
“The government is not listening to the New Zealand public. The vast majority of submissions to Parliament on this bill were strongly opposed to it. On top of this, the recent mayoral elections returned candidates in our capital and largest cities on platforms of community ownership. The government should have paused for thought and read the signals it was getting from the electorate.
“This amendment threatens the public ownership and control of community assets and services as well as citizens’ engagement in local government decision-making. It allows councils to outsource vital assets like water services to private contractors for up to 35 years. 35 years is a lifetime – that’s privatisation.
“Community consultation is at the heart of local body decision-making. It allows councils and communities to determine jointly their priorities and needs but this amendment undermines that relationship.
“Citizens’ input into issues that directly affect their daily life will be replaced with ‘behind closed door’ tendering processes and commercially sensitive discussions, the outcomes of which will be decided by a few,” says Brenda Pilott.

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