Pensioner housing's new strategic asset designation

  • Sandra Lee
Local Government

Acting Local Government Minister Hon Matt Robson today confirmed that any decision on whether or not to sell council pensioner housing would still be made at the local level, even though such housing is now to be a strategic asset under the new Local Government Bill.
"Local Government New Zealand can assure its members that the coalition government is still committed to progressing reforms that have the broad support of the sector," said Mr Robson.
"The government wants to ensure that meaningful consultation is undertaken between a local authority and its community when questions arise concerning the possible sale of strategic assets," he said.
"Under the present law there is no need for a local authority to 'consult' in accordance with the generally understood meaning of consultation, as defined by a 1993 court case." (Wellington International Airport v Air New Zealand)
Mr Robson said the new Local Government Bill would rectify this situation by requiring local authorities to undertake a strengthened form of the current non-mandatory consultation procedures under the existing law.
He said where the sale of assets was proposed under the new Bill, a public statement of the proposal would have to include—amongst other things—an assessment of how the sale is likely to impact on current and future generations, and how the sale relates to the social, economic, cultural and environmental objectives of the council. The decision of the local authority on the sale proposal and its reasons for doing so would also have to be made available to all those who have made submissions on the proposal.
"The government is aware of concern from some elements of the business community who fear the actions of councils unshackled from prescriptively written law. The quid pro quo of the new freedoms that will be given to each council is that the councils follow a meaningful consultation process as well as prepare comprehensive council community plans stretching over 10 years. Cabinet's decision this week on pensioner housing is consistent with that balanced approach."