Date: 29 January 2018
The Local Government Commission welcomes the independent review of its role and functions announced this month by the Department of Internal Affairs.
Commission Chair Sir Wira Gardiner said that the role of supporting good practice in local government is extremely important given the current local government challenges for communities and the increasing pressures on councils.
“It is critical that communities have the opportunity to make certain their local democratic institutions are right for them – that they enable good and fair representation, but also ensure that councils deliver the quality services that ratepayers and residents expect.’’
Sir Wira commended the context of the review, which will likely consider some of the wider needs of New Zealand’s system of local government, aspects of its legislative framework and how the Commission’s role and functions could be refined or changed to provide more effective support. He noted the cumbersome nature of the current statutory processes, and the Commission’s progress towards alternative approaches.
“The relative inflexibility of the reorganisation process, including dealing with applications either to merge or split councils, can lead to a degree of frustration on several fronts – and usually to considerable effort and expense.
“On the other hand, communities, councils and local government leaders tend to welcome our assistance in developing approaches to meet some of the significant challenges they face, particularly with respect to shared and improved service delivery. In some cases, councils face major barriers to achieve this,’’ Sir Wira said.
“Since 2015, alongside its statutory role of responding to reorganisation applications, the Commission has been developing just such an approach – to the extent that the current legislative toolkit allows.
“The Commission welcomes a review in which a full range of options promoting cost-effective, efficient and local democratic decision-making for all our communities – and the Commission’s role in this – is considered, and looks forward to providing constructive input to those ends.’’
The external review, to be conducted by RDC Group Ltd, is expected to report back to the Department in late February.
Simon Cunliffe | Local Government Commission | Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua
DDI +64 4 474 8164| MOB +64 27 809 3833 | Simon.Cunliffe@dia.govt.nz