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LGNZ backs call for more responsibility for local government

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Local Government New Zealand is welcoming a new report calling for greater clarity in the roles and responsibilities of local and central government in New Zealand.

Public policy think tank The New Zealand Initiative has today released a report calling for changes to the Local Government Act 2002, which would put clear responsibilities and accountabilities on local government, allowing for greater innovation, increased public accountability and the creation of local solutions to local problems.

In The Local Manifesto: Restoring Local Government Accountability New Zealand Initiative Research Fellow Jason Krupp argues there is an "accountability gap" between policy makers and communities which makes it hard for people to know which sphere of government is responsible for specific services, who is driving costs, or who is setting quality standards.

To bring greater clarity the report calls for greater devolution of responsibility to local government with limited scope for central government intervention, with the aim of ensuring councils operate in an open, accountable and efficient way.

Local Government New Zealand President Lawrence Yule says the paper offers valuable recommendations for improving the performance of both local and central government in New Zealand.

"We are particularly interested in creating greater accountability and transparency around which arm of government is responsible for what," Mr Yule says.

"The lines of responsibility need to be clearer and the Initiative’s suggestions for achieving this, such as making councils fully responsible for all the services they currently provide, are worth considering.

Delegating more power to councils and requiring them to fully consult their communities through mechanisms like referenda could also be useful for engaging communities in the important but often poorly understood issues they face."

LGNZ Chief Executive Malcolm Alexander also welcomed the report.

"LGNZ’s guiding vision is ‘local democracy powering community and national success’, and proposals that will help create stronger local decision-making are welcomed and worth debating," Mr Alexander says.

"The recent local elections showed us that we need to do something to get people more actively engaged in their community’s issues. Achieving better outcomes for our communities will require change from both local and central government, and I look forward to progressing the ideas in this report with the New Zealand Initiative, and local and central government," Mr Alexander says.

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