Local Government Amendment Bill passes first reading

  • Chris Tremain
Local Government

Local councils will be encouraged and assisted to work more efficiently under new legislation that passed its first reading in Parliament today, says Local Government Minister Chris Tremain.

A key part of the new legislation addresses one of the contributing factors to housing affordability.

“The Bill proposes changes to development contributions provisions making them fairer, more transparent, and ensuring they do not contribute unnecessarily to rising housing costs. In particular, the changes limit what contributions can be charged for, introduce an objection process and encourage developers to provide infrastructure themselves.

“The Bill also builds on last year’s amendments to the Local Government Act to provide greater transparency about how councils are planning and managing the infrastructure communities rely on,” says Mr Tremain.

It encourages councils to review service delivery arrangements and provides greater clarity about documenting joint arrangements and agreements with third parties to provide services or manage infrastructure. It also ensures council consultation documents are tightly focused and highlight key issues."

“The Bill includes the possibility of local boards for new unitary authorities and provisions for joint committees and council controlled organisations to be established as part of a reorganisation process.

“There are also opportunities for more efficient arrangements where amalgamations and boundary changes are not possible or not justified. The Bill actively encourages councils to explore ways of working together to reduce costs in managing and delivering services.

“There are encouraging signs that councils are already considering more efficient ways of operating, such as increased use of shared services. Some current Local Government Act provisions are hindering these moves and this Bill addresses that.

“The Local Government Act 2002 updated local government legislation for the start of the twenty-first century. This Bill continues to refine that Act to ensure local authorities are equipped to meet the challenges of the decades ahead,” the Minister said.

The Bill was referred to the Local Government and Environment Committee, with an instruction that the Committee report finally to the House on or before 12 May 2014.