Boost for local government in new bills

 The Government is acting to restore the promotion of social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being of communities to the statutory purpose of local councils, says Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Two new Bills, which are due to have their first reading in Parliament next week, also aim to re-introduce the ability of councils to collect wider development contributions and make it easier for them to bring in online voting.

 The Local Government (Community Well-being) Amendment Bill is the one designed to restore the “four well-beings” to the statutory purpose of local government and give councils back the ability to collect development contributions in order to fund increased demand for community facilities, such as libraries, sports grounds and swimming pools resulting from developments.

 Previous National-led administrations had unfortunately narrowed the statutory purpose of local government to focus only on service delivery and not broader community well-being.

"By inserting the four well-beings back into the Local Government Act we acknowledge the valuable role local leadership has to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of citizens and communities,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“We are confronted with various challenges as a country such as the impact of population growth, climate change and ageing infrastructure. Quality of life outcomes as well as regional growth and prosperity require a broader focus in the way councils meet the challenge of setting priorities and planning for the future.

“Re-inserting the power for the collection of development contributions to provide for community infrastructure and reserves will provide some relief to councils as we continue to work towards a broader range of funding and financing tools to assist local government.”

A second Local Electoral Matters Bill addresses the design, trial and analysis of new voting methods for local elections, and will make it easier to trial electronic voting, including online voting.          

“Modernising local electoral practices is an important part of encouraging and fostering civic participation in local government. This Bill aims to help councils use new tools to get more people involved in determining the make-up of their local councils.”