In an in depth interview by Oli Lewis in BusinessDesk (to whom I am grateful to have these quotes) Lianne Dalziel reported her thoughts on the relationships between central and local government Yes, minister: Lianne Dalziel on the ‘terrible’ central-local govt relationship | BusinessDesk
Speaking first about central government bureaucracies Lianne observed:
…government departments and other organisations too often take a siloed approach. To address intractable issues like climate change or child poverty – what former prime minister Bill English would call “wicked problems” – policymakers need to take a more holistic view, learn to work collaboratively, and consider the impact of policy choices beyond their portfolio area.
To which I would say “amen”. Just think about how all the disputes between various government departments were brought to Christchurch after the earthquakes. They just transported their differences and imposed them on this city.
Lianne then went on to say:
They also need to pay more consideration to local government, she says. Dalziel doesn’t think policymakers in central government pay adequate attention to the needs of local government. Nor do they work collaboratively with their local counterparts.
‘They don’t even know we exist’
From a new housing intensification law to the three waters reform, the normally placid world of local government has become a political hot topic this term. Faced with a government determined to push through solutions to various thorny infrastructure problems, councils around the country have reacted with barely suppressed fury at what they see as consultation shortcomings and a loss of control.
Asked to describe the relationship between central and local government, Dalziel is typically forthright: “Terrible,” she says. “They don’t even know we exist … “We’re part of the governance of the country.”
One source of tension between local and central government is the “unfunded mandate” – parliament passing a law without adequately resourcing local authorities to implement it. She wants to see regulatory impact statements better assess the impact on local government. More than that, though, Dalziel wants to see a broader conversation about where responsibility should lie. “Collectively we should be looking at the future of government together.”
Instead of just looking at local government, any governance review should take a much wider perspective, Dalziel believes. Consideration should be given to which layer of government – central, regional or local – is best placed to deliver particular services and how they should be funded and consulted on.
This article has wonderful comments by Lianne Dalziel. A former Labour cabinet minister. A life member of the party (the highest honour the party gives to an activist). Saying of her party “they don’t even know we exist”. If I were still a Labour Party member, I would be pushing buttons all over the place saying that this is a red button article. Ignore it at your peril.
Or are they too preoccupied with their agenda to care. That could be fatal. They should remember the old maxim that governments are not voted in. The old ones are voted out. When a party activist who is still a life member puts up a flag, as Lianne has, then ignore this at your peril Labour Party leaders.