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“Local government, as the exercise of democracy at the local level, is a fundamental part of New Zealand's governmental structures. However, the nature and scope of its role has changed significantly over time, primarily as central government has continued to devolve increased legislated responsibilities to councils. New Zealand First will return elected local government to all parts of New Zealand and oppose any undemocratic forced amalgamations.”

— Rt Hon Winston Peters

RESPONSIVE LOCAL GOVERNMENT

  • Reduce the rates burden and boost service provision by giving local government all the GST from foreign tourism ($1.5 billion p.a.) and a 25 percent share of royalties from water bottled for export and from Crown Minerals.Remove racial separatism from the Local Government Act and provide for a single voting mechanism across all local authorities.
  • Ensure that when governmental functions are devolved to local government the financial resources needed to implement the devolution are also provided.
  • Extend rates rebates to those who hold ‘occupation rights agreements’ in retirement villages and remove GST from the non-service component of council rates.
  • Ensure rating differentials can only be put on businesses if evidence of differential costs can be demonstrated.
  • Require the Local Government Commission to cease its operating model of forcing local authority amalgamations and reinstate into the Local Government Act, a requirement for proposed amalgamations to consider the social and economic imperatives of affected communities.
  • Require the Local Government Commission to allow communities faced with amalgamation to decide their own futures by binding local (i.e. to that community) referenda.
  • Require the Local Government Commission to develop a mechanism allowing communities to secede from amalgamated authorities, such as, for example, our commitment to a binding referendum for North Rodney to leave Auckland Council.
  • Legislate for the relocation of the Port of Auckland from Auckland to Northport in Northland and free up 77-hectares of Auckland’s iconic waterfront.
  • Eliminate the debt burden on Kaipara District Council ratepayers caused by the Mangawhai Community Wastewater Scheme.
  • Restore road Funding Assistance Rate levels (FARs) and regionally distributed funding.
  • Initiate a public inquiry “A decade after Shand” to examine the drivers of local government expenditure, the mechanisms for raising funds for local body councils and community boards.

IMPROVING THE RMA

  • Repeal all race-based provisions and ensure the Resource Management Act is based on the concept of one law for all.
  • Enhance the value of the pre-hearing phase by empowering councils to ensure the attendance of relevant parties; requiring that specific and agreed timelines be established; ensuring that the necessary evidence be established along with the expertise required; requiring that those who facilitate the pre-hearings phase have a comprehensive understanding of the RMA; and, by ensuring that any costs required to change the pace or scope of the process be met by the party requiring that change.
  • Amend the RMA to require that, at the conclusion of the pre-hearings meeting, only those issues that have been defined as forming the basis of a hearing should be the subject of any further hearing.
  • Amend the RMA to set out a process allowing the combining of several local body jurisdictions for one consent process in clearly defined circumstances.
  • Amend definitions and require authorities to maintain registers of sacred sites defined under section 6(e) and of recognized Iwi Authorities (or where applicable hapū) and appropriate personnel.
  • Develop a ‘National Coastal Policy Statement – Aquaculture’ to provide certainty for existing and future farmers.
  • Introduce greater certainty, transparency, and accountability and require that payment must always be for services rendered.
  • Limit the scope for de novo hearings by the Environment Court to exceptional circumstances and matters of law and the role of the Environment Court largely to rehearing Council decisions and thus remove many of the bottlenecks that currently impede the process.
  • Ensure that the Environment Court is adequately resourced with sufficiently qualified people sitting on the Court.
  • Ensure that appeals to the High Court may be based on law only, once the facts have been established. This is linked to our view that if the pre-hearing and hearing phases are improved, then the contestability of facts and law are greatly reduced.