Saturday, July 24, 2021
Times of Georgia
HomePoliticalMajor Opportunity To Revitalise Local Government

Major Opportunity To Revitalise Local Government

“The independent review of local government announced
today is a genuine opportunity to address a wave of serious
issues across housing, transport and water by strengthening
the ability of councils to execute, address long standing
infrastructure funding and financing challenges and ensure
that New Zealand becomes a more competitive, equitable and
sustainable society,” says Hamish Glenn Policy Director at
Infrastructure New Zealand.

“Minister Mahuta has
today announced a major review of local government to be
chaired by former Waimakariri CEO Jim Palmer and with panel
support from John Ombler QSO, Antoine Coffin, Gael Surgenor
and Penny Hulse.

“We are very pleased to see the
review panel has been given a broad mandate. The panel will
consider the future of local government, including roles,
functions and partnerships; representation and governance;
and funding and financing.

“Councils provide
critical infrastructure services across New Zealand,
including the planning, funding, delivery and regulation of
billions of dollars of assets.

“The current local
government system was largely set in place in 1989 and is
simply not geared for the kinds of challenges we see

“Complex environmental issues like climate
change and freshwater degradation have combined with major
economic trends around remote working and digitisation to
fundamentally change our expectations of local government
standards and services.

“In the context of
inadequate funding and financing arrangements for
infrastructure, councils have not been able to keep

“The review announced today gives the country a
two year programme to discuss exactly what type of system
might work better.

“There needs to be a genuine
first principles discussion around what services are best
delivered locally, which services regionally and what

“Effective strategic planning and
infrastructure delivery needs a degree of scale that 67
territorial authorities are not optimised to

“But equally, there are a range of public
services which do not benefit from scale and which can and
should be delivered closer to affected

“It is very important that central
government itself keeps an open mind to reform as the review
may identify opportunities to transfer responsibilities and
resourcing to local government to better incentivise

“This is a huge opportunity not just to
strengthen local government but to improve the entire system
of domestic decision making so that New Zealanders continue
to enjoy high incomes, a sustainable environment and equal
access to opportunities,” Glenn

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