This week we have Jim Palmer who chaired the Review on Local Government at Tuesday Club. In June the report from this group(who had undertaken an exhausting exercise to obtain widespread feedback from all over NZ) was published. This report was released in June but promptly got lost in the leadup to the election.
The incoming government has stated that they wish to improve relations with local government, and we will all totally applaud that desire. The work has been undertaken by this well-balanced review panel and so we decided to start our new series by asking Jim to give us his summary on their findings. What we would like to see would be the report being actively discussed publicly.
Rosemary had a letter in the Press this week:
Well done Mike Yardley for raising the issue of the Review into the Future of Local Government. After extensive consultation with stakeholders the final report was released in June 2023 and presented to the Minister and Local Government New Zealand. And then it seems to have sunk without trace like so many reviews before it.
While not perfect, it provided a framework for going forward and reinvigorating local democracy: The importance of rebuilding the relationship between Central and Local and Regional Government, addressing the need for alternative funding sources, consideration to Government paying rates on their buildings, even removing GST on rates.
Here we have CCC talking about increased costs, selling assets and rates rises. This needs a wider discussion with central government. Strong local democracy and engagement is an important way we can prepare for the uncertain future we face with Climate impacts and natural disasters. It is the only thing we can rely on in the short term.
Local Government New Zealand should be stepping up to the new government and taking a lead.
Simon Britten, Deputy Chair, Waipapa Papanui Innes Central Community Board Replied – Good news: LGNZ is stepping up and since mid year has been facilitating a process for Councils to land on a consensus position on the final report of the Future for Local Government review, and in fact is taking this further, to be a Future BY Local Government, with a view to taking this to the incoming Government. The final position will be voted on by Councils at a meeting in December. Click through if you’d like to know who’s been involved in guiding the process: https://www.lgnz.co.nz/…/whos-on-the-fflg-advisory-group/
Here’s what the main findings of Local Government Review were:
- Strengthened local democracy – from low public trust and participation in local governance to citizens participating in local decision-making; councils being trusted and reflecting community diversity.
- Authentic relationship with hapū/iwi and Māori – from variable relationships between councils and hapū/iwi/Māori to strong, authentic relationships between councils and hapū/iwi/Māori that enable self-determination and shared authority.
- Stronger focus on wellbeing – from councils often narrowly focused on delivering services and infrastructure to councils focusing on holistic strategies to improve the wellbeing of their communities.
- Genuine partnership between local and central government – from low trust between local and central government to genuine partnership to co-invest in and deliver wellbeing outcomes for communities.
- More equitable funding – from an over-burdened and constrained funding system to an equitably funded system that enables communities to thrive.