Greetings and welcome to the latest Local Government Commission newsletter. The newsletter provides information and updates relevant to the work of the Commission. It focuses on local government structures, performance and good practice generally.
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The Commission issued a media statement last month to update the public on three major reorganisation proposals referred to it by councils and community groups.
The statement provides a stocktake of the Commission’s work to date on the proposals affecting Northland, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington regions.
It also offers some indication of timeframes for the next steps and re-states that councils in the affected regions should maintain a ‘business as usual’ approach to their functions and activities while the process is ongoing.
TRANSITION IN MEMBERSHIP
In June the Commission farewelled and thanked long-serving member Grant Kirby at the completion of his term.
Prior to his recent service as a Commission member, Grant also chaired the Commission between 2001 and 2005. He provided fellow Commissioners with valuable advice and insights from decades of experience both within councils and as a consultant to major external users of local government services.
We wish Grant well for the future and we are sure he will keep watch on the Commission’s ongoing activities from his rural property on the shores of the Kaipara Harbour.
The Commission’s decision on an application for a new unitary authority in North Rodney was issued in June. The Warkworth-based Northern Action Group had proposed a new local authority composed of a mayor and five councillors. The proposed council would represent an area from Puhoi to Te Hana, including Warkworth, Wellsford and Kawau Island. The Commission declined to assess the application.
At the time of writing this newsletter, nine sitting days remain on Parliament’s calendar. The Commission continues to watch the progress of the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill No. 3 which has important provisions for the creation of local boards in unitary authorities.
The lessons from the creation of the new Auckland Council in 2010 have come under scrutiny with the release of a new book by the public law specialist Mai Chen. Her book Transforming Auckland: The Creation of Auckland Council was launched at a function in Auckland attended by Commissioners Basil Morrison and Anne Carter and the Chief Executive Donald Riezebos.
It offers a collection of unique insights from those involved in the Auckland Council amalgamation process. Interviews were conducted with 44 key players involved in the development of Auckland Council, from the Royal Commission into Auckland Governance, to Cabinet decision-makers, to those involved in drafting the legislation, and the Auckland Transition Agency (ATA).
As noted by Mai, “It is hoped that as a result of reading this book, Aucklanders will be better able to participate in their local democracy and for the book to act as a guide for lawyers, professional advisors and other local authorities considering reorganization in New Zealand as well as overseas.
A new briefing note has been posted on the Commission’s website with observations of recent local government reforms in Queensland.
The Commission’s Chair and CEO travelled to Brisbane in April for discussions with a number of leading figures in Queensland state government agencies and local authorities. The Queensland experience has been cited by a number of people appearing before the Commission during public hearings this year.
Commission staff are grateful for the patience of key correspondents while we operated at limited capacity for a couple of days during a recent office move. The Commission premises have now returned to the Department of Internal Affairs head office in Waring Taylor St, Wellington. Other contact details are unchanged.
Local Government Commission Mana Kāwanatanga Ā Rohe PO Box 5362 Wellington 6145 New Zealand Phone: +64 4 4602228 Fax: +64 4 4940501 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.lgc.govt.nz