New Zealand First says the Government is not only systematically dismantling Local Government – the important second tier of our democratic system – through controversial amendments to the Local Government Act (LGA) but is also trying to gag Parliamentary debate on the issue.
Local Government spokesperson Andrew Williams says New Zealand First and opposition parties were yesterday successful in helping thwart Government’s numerous attempts in Parliament to halt debate on the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill.
“We refuse to be silent on such important fundamental issues as freedom of speech and democracy.
“It is important that New Zealanders know that we support the 78 councils which earlier this year unanimously opposed aspects of the Bill at their annual conference.
“New Zealand First recognises that is necessary to find efficiencies and savings within both local and central government but not to the extent of destabilising our democratic system.”
Mr Williams says the changes to the LGA were driven by former Local Government Minister Nick Smith.
“All the signs are there that Dr Smith will be back in the Local Government hot seat early next year. He will be pulling strings to intervene in and seriously disrupt Local Government throughout the country. Something the country can ill afford when the economy needs all parties working in partnership.
“The changes being rolled out by National fly in the face of the 775 written submissions and 186 oral submissions on the Bill – opposing voices that were given scant regard by the Government.
“One need only look at how the Government sacked the democratically-elected Environment Canterbury Council to see what the country is facing, Ministerial control and central power.
“Be warned, this is the sort of thing that could be coming to a place near you in the near future,” says Mr Williams.