More on the Future of (Our!) Local Government

What might the Auckland super city mean for the rest of us? – from a Local Government NZ Newsletter 

This a constant topic at LGNZ meetings and a number of seminars have been organised by lawyers and consultants to capitalise on the issue.

 Views range from the conspiracy theorists, who see Auckland as the first step in a plot by government to reduce the number of councils significantly – the lowest number I have heard so far is six (not counting the Chathams).

 Then there are the proponents of change who would like to use the momentum created by the Auckland debate to encourage a discussion in their own localities about the optimum shape and number of councils. Wellington and Hawke’s Bay come to mind.

 And then there are the others, who believe that any future change will be led by communities and be a response to preferences expressed by the community.

 The Government is definitely encouraging us to the latter view – the most commonly recollected statement by the Prime Minister at his opening speech to our conference last week on the future reorganisation of local government “Any further changes of that type will be community-led, not central government-led”. He also pledged to using his considerable personal influence to improve public turnout in the local body elections. The Minister for Local Government, who also talks of a “response to calls for change”, in his speech and views elsewhere (see above) has widely decided to set aside the time to have the debate.

 Before any further decisions are made, we will all have the chance to consider and to contribute to a discussion document that will be left for the Government of the next term to act on. But this in no way detracts from the need to start thinking about these issues now. LGNZ will provide the platform and the opportunity for councils across New Zealand to have this discussion, and then to take the outcomes of that discussion outwards and upwards.

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