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Proposals for local government reform

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Latest Political News | Monday March 19 2012 6:24

Proposals for local government reform

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Cabinet will today look at wide ranging proposals aimed at reforming the local government sector.

But the Greens say that looking at what's been signalled by Local Government minister Nick Smith, all the proposals will do is reduce democracy.

Dr Smith says increasing rates and council debt has to be curbed and he's looking at more Super City style mergers, and demanding councils focus on more traditional services such as rubbish and rates.

Green MP Eugenie Sage says that's all about ideology rather than actually improving the sector.

"Councils are working together to save costs in some areas such as the Bay of Plenty and more councils should do that, to look at the administrative savings."

Meanwhile the Prime Minister says there'll be no more forced council amalgamations.

John Key says there's likely to be an announcement today on moves to wrestle local government rates into submission but don't expect Rodney Hide-style takeovers.

"We think it's very difficult for communities to amalgamate, again there'll be some discussions about that with the councils to amalgamate but I wouldn't look for a forced situation as you saw in Auckland."

But Mr Key says communities can't keep paying seven percent rate increases year after year.

Former chairman of Environment Canterbury Sir Kerry Burke says the majority of local and regional councils function perfectly well on their own.

"Every time a minister of local government comes along it's a bee in their bonnet, they try to reform local government. They should really just let local government get on and do its job."

Environment Canterbury was sacked by the National Government in 2010.

Photo: Local Government minister Nick Smith (NZ Herald)

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