Four well-beings core to local government’s role

Two important local government bills have had their first reading in Parliament tonight.

The Local Government (Community Well-being) Amendment Bill seeks to restate the promotion of social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities to the statutory purpose of local government.

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

“We face serious challenges such as the impact of population growth, climate change and ageing infrastructure. A broader focus in the way councils meet the challenge of setting priorities and planning for the future is required.

“Reintroducing an emphasis on the four well-beings will engage councils and citizens on an intergenerational approach to improving quality of life outcomes in our towns and cities.”

The Bill also seeks to 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.

“This will provide some relief to councils as we continue to work towards a broader range of funding and financing tools to assist local government.”

The minister thanked Labour’s Rongotai MP Paul Eagle for the considerable effort he had put into developing a private member’s bill to restore the four well-beings. This bill is due to be withdrawn given the new legislation introduced by the minister.

Meanwhile, a Local Electoral Matters Bill introduced by the minister 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.

“The detail of how a trial will be implemented will be set out in regulations and I expect further consideration of any privacy issues to be thoroughly canvassed prior to introduction to better enable a full analysis of participation via different voting methods.”