Why Local Government Minister and ACT Party leader Rodney is going to sort out the councils-at long bloody last.
From Rodney’s speech to Local Government New Zealand Annual Conference
Tuesday 28 July 2009
As I have travelled the country I have listened, to you, to ratepayers and to farmers and other businesses.
I have heard loud and clear the concern over rate increases, red tape, unacceptable delays and bureaucratic bungling. We need to do better, much better.
I have also heard loud and clear of the large and unacceptable costs central government has imposed on local government and thereby ratepayers.
Tim Shadbolt wrote to me explaining how his council could easily have held costs to the rate of inflation except for the costs central government had imposed over the past nine years. For this year alone, Invercargill City Council will spend an extra $1.59 million, or nearly eight per cent, of their budget on complying with these additional requirements.
It is clear to me that successive governments have imposed large costs on local government without care or adequate thought. At Local Government New Zealand’s request we have put a moratorium on the introduction of drinking water standards.
Local Governm NZ have also expressed concern at the impacts of the new air quality standards. That’s why a review is underway to examine these issues.
As Minister for Regulatory Reform I want to ensure that central government policy making takes proper account of any costs to be imposed on local government.
With Bill English I am working to tighten cabinet procedures to take better account of local government.
A huge amount of regulation has been passed on by central government to local government to administer.
Two prime examples of over-regulation are the Resource Management Act and Building Act.
The complexities and bureaucratic processes of this legislation have heaped costs on councils, which have then been passed onto users and ratepayers.
The reform of these two Acts now underway will go a considerable way to lessening councils’ planning and regulatory costs and make it simpler to administer the legislation.
You have also made clear to me that the processes and procedures set out in the Local Government Act are imposing unnecessary cost, making your jobs harder, and slowing down our boat.
Accordingly I am looking at that Act. My review is guided by principle.
The first thing is that I believe in local government. That is to say, wherever possible, I believe that decisions are best left with individuals. Where government is involved, it’s best to have a government as local and as close to the people affected as possible. That’s why I support and believe in local government.
My job is not to tell councils what to do. My job is to provide the best environment for you to get on and do your job reflecting the wish and desire of your communities and their willingness to pay.
Can’t come soon enough, Rodney.