Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3)

The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3) is currently before the Local Government and Environment Select Committee and submissions to the Committee close on 14 February 2014.

Summary of changes

The Bill amends the Local Government Act 2002 to:

  • change what development contributions can be used for;
  • allow for objections to development contributions charges;
  • encourage more collaboration and shared services between local authorities;
  • make consultation requirements more flexible;
  • provide for a new significance and engagement policy;
  • enable more efficient and focused consultation on long-term plans and annual plans;
  • remove unnecessary duplication between annual plans and long-term plans;
  • introduce new requirements for infrastructure strategies and asset management planning;
  • enable elected members to use technology to participate in council meetings, rather than attending in person;
  • require councils to disclose information about their rating bases in long-term plans, annual plans and annual reports; and
  • require disclosure of risk management arrangements for physical assets in annual reports.

The Bill also includes provisions that enable the Local Government Commission to:

  • establish local boards (similar to those in Auckland) as part of new unitary authorities, and in existing unitary authorities; and
  • create council-controlled organisations and joint committees as part of a reorganisation scheme.
    (Source: Department of Internal Affairs website)

Further details can be found on the Department of Internal Affairs website:
http://www.dia.govt.nz/better-local-government

Our submission

Council has made a submission on the Bill because the council believes - based on its discussions with Northland communities, local experiences with community boards, and its own research into the Auckland local board model - more powerful 'local boards' are vital to deliver genuine representation and real control to communities. Without local boards a unitary council is unlikely to be acceptable to the communities of Northland, no matter what the benefits of a unitary council are.

We therefore strongly support the proposal in Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3) (the Bill) to make this structure available to unitary authorities outside of Auckland and have made a submission to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee on this.

Given the relationship already between the Bill and proposed amendments to the Local Electoral Act 2001 for local boards, council has also asked that the Select Committee consider an expansion to the scope of the Bill and to consult Māori on options that could be included for achieving better local governance and better Māori representation, engagement and involvement in local government decision making. We do not purport to speak for Māori but we support empowering Māori and their choice in how they are represented. We therefore think that the scope of the Bill needs expanding to provide for this.

The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3) is an important piece of legislation for Northland. We want those Northlanders who wish to make a submission on it to be able to be heard in support of their submission and to be heard here in Northland. We have asked the committee to hold hearings on the Bill in Northland to ensure those that want to be heard are not prevented from doing so given our geographic distance from Wellington and the significant time and costs involved in travelling there for a short audience with the committee.

If you want to know more about our position on the Bill please see our full submission below.

Council's full submission on the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3) (PDF, 1.6MB)