Wednesday, March 07, 2012

In the ballot XLV: Local Government Edition

Another batch of Member's Bills currently in the ballot. Previous batches are indexed here:

Local Electoral (Finance) Amendment Bill (Denise Roche): would tighten electoral finance rules for local body elections, capping individual donations at $5,000, and banning large foreign and anonymous donations. It also requires members of local bodies to disclose their pecuniary interests. It does not bust the trusts (National-style laundering of donations through trusts has become a problem in several recent local body elections), but the donation cap would make them irrelevant.

Given the problems we have had with laundered donations and the serious risk of corruption in local body politics (where decisions can have real and immediate financial gains for donors), this law needs to be passed. It should be a government priority, not left to a member's bill.

Local Government (Public Libraries) Amendment Bill (Grant Robertson): Would amend the Local Government Act to require local authorities to provide free (rather than user-pays) public library services. Interestingly, this would also apply to reasonable internet use, recognising that internet access is a vital public good.

Local Government (Salary Reform) Amendment Bill (Denis O'Rourke): would amend the Local Government Act to set criteria which must be considered when setting the salary of a local body Chief Executive. The criteria are based on those used by the Remuneration Authority for mayors and councillors.

As usual, I'll have more bills as I acquire them.