Forced council amalgamations on the way

Communities will lose their right to have a say on council amalgamations under National’s Local Government Amendment Bill, says Labour’s Acting Local Government spokesperson Phil Twyford.
“John Key is breaking his election promise (see link to news story below) that there would be no forced amalgamations,” Phil Twyford said. “This Bill opens the door to exactly that.”
“Once this law is passed people could well see their local council forcibly amalgamated into new super city style councils, and they won’t have a say in what happens.
“The law currently guarantees citizens the right to approve or reject in a binding ballot any proposal for reorganisation of their council. National is taking away that democratic right.
“If people want the chance to vote on an amalgamation they will have to get a petition signed by 10 per cent of the population.
“This is a confiscation of New Zealanders’ democratic rights.
“After the forced amalgamation of Auckland without a poll, and the sacking of elected members of Environment Canterbury, this is just the latest indicator of National’s contempt for local democracy,” Phil Twyford said.
National’s Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill also gives the Local Government Minister the power to suspend elections for up to a year while a reorganisation plan is implemented. Labour’s local government spokesperson Annette King has referred this section of the Bill to Parliament’s Regulation Review Committee to investigate whether it is appropriate to use regulation to make such a change to a statutory requirement.
Mr Twyford said Labour would be voting against the Bill at its first reading today. “It is an illogical, poorly conceived Bill that will achieve little other than undermining local government and taking rights away from communities.”

Acknowledgements: Phil Twyford