Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hawkes Bay to National: "No"

Back in 2012, National passed the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Act 2012, which (among other things) made it significantly easier to foist amalgamation on local bodies. Reorganisation proposals could be made by tiny pressure groups, and no longer had to be approved by voters. Instead, voters would only get to have a say if 10% of the affected voters in an area signed a petition calling for a referendum - and even then, small regions could be outvoted by bigger ones and forced to amalgamate against their will.

Almost immediately, a pressure group tried to force an amalgamation of councils in the Hawkes Bay. But because their proposal included tiny slices of other areas, it was easy to get a referendum on it. And given a choice, voters responded with a resounding "no".

Local Government Minister Paula Bennett is trying to pretend that she supports local democracy over this (cough ECan cough), but its hard to see it as anything other than a rejection of her government's "reforms". And her official policy is still to push amalgamations; if she really supported local communities controlling their own destiny, she'd repeal the unfair 2012 law.