Rodney Hide – radical agenda for local government?

UPDATED

Too bloody late for Dunedin City Council and its sinkhole stadium…

### Radio New Zealand National Updated at 9:42am on 9 June 2009
Morning Report with Geoff Robinson & Sean Plunket

Local Government Act under review
Limits on spending and greater use of referenda could be the way of the future for local government. The proposals are set out in a Cabinet Paper prepared by Local Government Minister and ACT party leader Rodney Hide, which signals the start of a review of the Local Government Act. The proposals include councils operating within a defined fiscal envelope, and opening their books before elections.
Mr Hide says councils should focus on core activities. At present, there is no definition of core services. Mr Hide expects it to include transport services such as roads and footpaths, water, and public health and safety services, including rubbish collection. He says the list would be generous and include services like libraries.
He also wants to look at whether referenda should be used more often by councils.
Podcast (duration 3′02″)

Radical agenda seen
Labour and the Green Party say it’s a radical agenda. Labour MP Phil Twyford says Mr Hide wants to cut local government by stripping out cultural, social and environmental activities. Greens co-leader Russel Norman says the proposal would place great constraints on what local government can do.
Mr Hide says he wants greater transparency and accountability in local government and for ratepayers to have more say. He will report back to Cabinet on the review by the end of August, and wants to have new legislation in place before the 2010 local elections.

Support for referendums
Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws backs the suggestion by Mr Hide to force councils to hold referendums for spending on non-core activities. Wanganui District Council regularly uses referendums and Mr Laws says they work extraordinarily well and are “much more democratic” than the consultation process. He told Morning Report that’s because far more people turn out to have their say, rather than just the usual lobbyists and interested parties. He said 61% of voters took part in the most recent referendum.
Podcast (duration 10′26″)

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Radio New Zealand National Updated at 9:44pm on 9 June 2009
Referendum on super-city not feasible – Hide

A referendum on the Auckland super-city is not feasible, says Local Government Minister Rodney Hide – despite advocating it as part of future local government decision-making.

Mr Hide is recommending local councils focus more on what he describes as core services, with other projects put to ratepayer referendums.

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams favours the idea, but says Mr Hide is hypocritical in refusing a referendum on the super-city plan.
RNZ Link

9 Comments

Filed under Economics, Hot air, Politics

9 responses to “Rodney Hide – radical agenda for local government?

  1. Phil

    I presume this comes on the back of the recently released OECD “Economic Report on New Zealand”. While these reports can be a bit subjective at times, it is interesting that this latest report specifically highlights a concern about local government spending and their move beyond basic local services. It goes on to voice the opinion that weak democratic accountability is a significant part of the problem and that there are insufficient checks and balances on local government with a need for more effective monitoring of performance and activities. While the report treats New Zealand as a whole, you can’t help but wonder if they had a specific case in mind.

  2. David

    They say they will stop councils wasting ratepayers’ money on things like the David Beckham fiasco when Auckland councils threw over a million dollars down the drain on a one-off event.

    Yet that’s around the amount Dunedin ratepayers will be throwing away on EVERY major event at the stadium

    (including every Super 14/15 and NPC game, though whether the NPC could still be considered a major event is debatable – the million dollar loss per game is major though)

  3. Phil

    I think that’s a fair assessment by you, Elizabeth. The recommendations I spoke of contained in the OECD report are being pushed hard by the Local Government Forum which includes the likes of Federated Farmers, Business Round Table, and the Chamber of Commerce. Not a group to be taken lightly, but also potentially looking to protect their interests. That being said, it would be unwise not to try and draw something from their extensive collective knowledge. A reluctance from some quarters to actively seek out qualified thoughts and ideas has contributed to the mess we have in front of us now.

  4. Elizabeth

    On democracy when it suits…

    ### ODT Online Wed, 10 Jun 2009
    Opinion: Playing Hide and seek with referendums
    By Simon Cunliffe

    So Rodney Hide wants us to decide everything by referendums? Or at least make our local spending decisions this way.
    Read more

  5. Anything that Michael Laws says needs to be qualified by the fact that he’s the most god awful arrogant SOB on the face of the planet. This man can’t even correct an injustice over the naming of the city for fear of his political hide (get it).

    I am thankful that this man has taken this stance, it frames nicely the idiots from the rest.

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