Minister’s claims of support for reform bill laughable

September 30 2016   MEDIA STATEMENT

Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga’s latest claims of wide support for his disastrous Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) would be laughable if they didn’t signal how out of touch National is with the local government sector, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson Meka Whaitiri.

“In written answers provided to Labour the Minister asserts he still has wide support for the Bill, despite it causing a public outcry and receiving almost universal opposition from mayors, councils, Local Government New Zealand and submitters to select committee.

“Sam Lotu-Iiga has given the select committee considering the bill a five-month extension for reporting back to the House; you don’t do that if you have wide support.

“In the same written answers, the Minister stands by his outrageous comments that mayors and councillors critical of the Bill need to be ‘careful’ with their comments and are ‘a bit on edge around re-election’.

“The Minister’s claims would be laughable if they didn’t highlight the major problem which caused this mess in the first place: the National Government is completely out of touch with the local government sector and what it takes to represent our diverse local communities around the country.

“With adequate consultation and a partnership approach, the reform process could have produced a workable bill that enabled councils while still protecting local democracy and decision-making.

“Instead, the government has expressed contempt for our local councils and wasted taxpayer resources on a disastrous piece of legislation that now resides in limbo.

“Minister, if you want to move forward constructively you first have to face facts: this Bill has no support,” says Meka Whaitiri.

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