Compton calls for Royal Commission on Local Government

Gwyn Compton

Kāpiti Coast Councillor Gwynn Compton has written to parties across Parliament urging them to work together to establish a Royal Commission on Local Government.

He wants an overhaul of the sector so it can deal with challenges it is unable to address at present.

“Our current local government arrangements were put in place more than 30 years ago.

The system isn’t coping’

“From looking around the country, it’s clear the system isn’t coping with the challenges such as rapid population growth, making up for decades of underinvestment in infrastructure, dealing with massive reforms of both the Three Waters and Resource Management Act, playing its part in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change,” says Cr Compton.

While Cr Compton’s call for a Royal Commission represents his own personal view and not that of Kāpiti Coast District Council, he says he’s aware of significant support for reform from both elected members and the communities they serve across New Zealand.

“It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the structure and financing of local government isn’t a good fit for the challenges it now finds itself facing. “

An example, he says, is its heavy dependence on property rates to fund the services and community facilities it provides. He says this has been shown to be unsustainable in the long-term.

“Change on this scale is politically difficult and can be understandably daunting for the communities involved. This is why following the Royal Commission approach, which laid the groundwork for successful change in Auckland and gave the process the necessary independence and trust needed to proceed, should be used over that of the Local Government Commission’s failed Wellington region proposal.” 20 years of independent publishing is a milestone, but your support is essential to keep Scoop thriving. We are building on our offering with thedig.nz our new In-depth Engaged Journalism platform. Now, more than ever sustainable financial support of the Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism will help to keep these vital and participatory media services running. Find out more and join us: Become a member

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Another media commentator said to me recently that there is probably more democracy in our present Mayor’s homeland (Malaysia) than there is in Kapiti. But we need to look beyond the personalities and examine the system that allows situations like that in Kapiti to happen. I think the call for a Royal Commission is an excellent one.

Couldn’t agree more…not just an overhaul of the system but also the framework that Council works within which is totally designed to hamper public participation, is anti democratic and just designed to maintain the status quo.
A major issue is having councillors with the skills to actually carry out their duties properly and understand their governance role.
Basically its the staff that controls everything. Bureaucracies by their very nature are cumbersome, slow to react and patch protective.

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