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National needs to rethink local government strategy

Eugenie Sage MP
Eugenie Sage MP
eugenie [dot] sage [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz (Email)
National’s repeated attacks on council debt and council regulation undermine public confidence in local democracy.

The National government needs to stop beating up on local government and develop the type of genuine partnership that Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) is promoting in its "Local Government Funding Review" discussion paper, the Green Party said today.

The Green Party welcomes LGNZ's paper, released today, and was supportive of it encouraging discussion about funding options for local government services over the next 10-30 years. The Green Party considers that some of the options contained in it would help councils avoid the pressure to privatise assets as is occurring in Christchurch.

"We need a strong and genuine partnership model between central and local government where there is greater consideration of the cost implications for local government of law changes and national policy initiatives and where local government contributes to policy design and assessment," Green Party local government spokesperson Eugenie Sage said today.

"National's repeated attacks on council debt and council regulation undermine public confidence in local democracy.

"New ways of raising revenue, as proposed by LGNZ, some of which would require law changes, such as motorway user charges and regional fuel taxes, deserve active consideration by the government.

"These initiatives could help bridge Auckland's critical transport funding gap and reduce councils' reliance on rates.

"National's 2013 repeal of council's ability to levy a regional fuel tax was foolish. Councils need a wider range of funding sources than rates to expand New Zealand's public transport infrastructure.

"Nearly 45 percent of local government's operational spending goes on roading, public transport, water supply and sewage infrastructure.

"Many councils face costly renewals and upgrades of their water supply, sewage and storm water systems over coming decades.

"National has slashed central government funding for smaller and more deprived communities to upgrade their wastewater and water treatment plants.

"The Green Party would reinstate this funding and commit to a more genuine partnership between central and local government," Ms Sage said.

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