The Labour Government is giving itself unprecedented powers over local government, say two Kāpiti politicians.
And Councillor Bernie Randall and Guy Burns, Deputy Chair of the Paraparaumu/Raumati Community Board, say this is ‘frightening’.
They’re calling for local government to be entrenched within the NZ Constitution Act.
They say: “There are perils ahead regarding the Three Waters project which is being fast-tracked upon local government.
“This is a project where drinking water, stormwater and waste water will be taken from local councils and administered nationally.
Big changes ahead
“There are big changessignalled to the Resource Management Act as well as an investigation into the future of local government by central government.
“This is a ripping of the bonds between community and local government giving unprecedented powers to central government.”
Randall and Burns say a Labour government has never been afraid of its local government counterparts.
“Parliament could abolish all 78 councils if it really wanted to, they say.
“Such powers were last used in 1989 when parliament amalgamated 850 local bodes into 86. The only change not made over the years is the limited way councils can obtain finance other than through the existing rate structure.
“The concentration of power to the central state is weakening democracy and making local leaders dependent on the whims of central government and its ministers.
“By having local government entrenched into a Constitution will forestall any attempt to abolish local government in favour of centralised rule over the whole country.”
They say the New Zealand Constitution Act 1986 could be amended to recognise and strengthen local government’s role in the governance of the nation.
A statute which is entrenched cannot be changed unless that change is supported by 75 per cent of parliamentarians.
Cr Bernie Randall and Deputy Chair Guy Burns believe that the Local Government Act should be entrenched.
They say:”Councils represent all the people of New Zealand.
Local authorities have voted for action
“In 2013 local authorities voted unanimously in support of a remit that Local Government New Zealand will seek to promote an amendment to the Constitution Act 1986 giving constitutional expression to local government.
“Local government must be safe guarded from any future constitutional arrangements that will emerge out of the current major reviews and plans being currently directed at local governments.”