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Briefing to the Incoming Minister for Local Government

Briefing to the Incoming Minister for Local Government

Briefing to the Incoming Minister for Local Government

Friday 9 March, 2018

The Honourable Nanaia Mahuta

The Department of Internal Affairs prepared a single BIM for the new Minister for Local Government: 

http://www.beehive.govt.nz/sites/default/files/2017-12/Local%20Government.pdf

The Department noted that across the country’s six unitary authorities, 11 regional councils, 11 city councils and 50 district councils, there is a wide range of different levels of capacity and capability which can be problematic when the local government sector has to respond to central Government directions.

The Department identified a number of significant challenges currently facing local government in New Zealand including:

 

  • Council rate increases to fund expansion or replacement of essential infrastructure is pushing the limits of affordability for many households;
  • Constraints on local government funding sources is creating significant pressure on a number of councils who are fast approaching debt limits;
  • Growing visitor numbers is a double-edged sword for many councils – it provides regional and local economic opportunities, but does increase demand on aging infrastructure and community services;
  • Community exposure to the consequences of natural disasters and hazards like earthquakes and floods is forcing a fundamental rethink on how land use needs to change in the future; and
  • The current planning system in the RMA and LGA is not agile enough to respond to these challenges. 

 

The Department has recommended that the Minister focus on developing infrastructure funding options for local government, promoting greater uptake of community infrastructure, participating in reform of the RMA and LGA, improving community representation in local government and local decision-making and utilising technology to modernise voting in local government elections.

The BIM notes that the Department has recently invested in new capability to support better alignment between central and local government and the new approach is to work across central government agencies, and between local and central government, to support a ‘one system’ approach to delivering local services to communities.  Better coordination across central and local governments is intended to provide for better collaboration and a platform to share and build expertise in relation to nationwide policy issues such as: housing; infrastructure; the planning system, tourism, regional economic development; climate change; and natural hazards management.

 

Our thanks to Karla Kereopa for contributing to this article.

Please contact Theresa Le Bas if you want to learn more about the issues discussed in this article.