Proposed changes to local government will mean citizens will have less say in the development of their communities, the Public Service Association told a parliamentary select committee to today.
The committee is hearing submissions on the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill.
"If this Bill is passed unchanged, it will give central government greater powers to interfere in the affairs of local communities and ratepayers will have less say in shaping their communities," says Brenda Pilott, PSA National Secretary.
"Already, we’ve seen the Government step in twice and deprive Christchurch people of their democratic right to elect councillors to Environment Canterbury. This Bill will only increase the opportunity and temptation to meddle in local government."
The proposed changes will make local councils narrow their focus to undefined "core responsibilities" in a way "that is most cost-effective for households and businesses".
"While no one’s arguing that ratepayer dollars need to be spent wisely, we’re worried what these changes will mean in practice. It could see local bodies having to get rid of assets like ports, airport or electricity distribution companies which will impact on local body revenue and potentially rates."
"The legislation is being pushed through with little analysis or consultation with the local government sector.
"Most local councils have done an excellent job in helping make our communities great places to live. They don’t deserve to have these changes foisted on them and the Government has no right to deprive citizens of a say in their communities."
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