Rodney Hide’s cost-cutting proposals for local government – ignore the public
This Cabinet paper explains how Local Government minister Rodney Hide wants to amend the Local Government Act 2002 to cut costs by focusing on core services,possibly opening other services to private sector,and selling assets, and all without consulting the public.
There will be no public consultation on Hides proposals,specifically because “public views are well known”. Not only that, Hide wants to water down the public consultation obligations in the Act itself, which is what this post also focuses on.
Local government is going to run under a tight “fiscal envelope”, meaning it will be difficult to conduct business outside “core services”, hence possible private sector input. Hide wants to minimise compliance costs – and therefore, apparently, this would control costs and lead to rates decreases. Interestingly one of the reasons why there is high costs associated with local government, according to the Cabinet Paper,is because “media scrutiny of local government is weak compared to central government”.
Really?Like, that's a reason so significant to put in a cabinet paper?
So, no public consultation on consultation processes, private sector involvement, or anything else. Instead Hide wants to conduct “targeted consultation” on his proposals meaning that the Government will consult with the people it agrees with - like Local Government groups and the Business Round Table - to make sure they are not annoyed. It intends to pass legislation and will ignore non-government parliamentary parties.
What decisions? Well, firstly, the Local Government Act 2002 provides a requirement to consult. Unfortunately the Act doesn’t define what that consultation is or should be, nor does it specify groups that must be consulted. It is up to local authorities to determine this. Therefore few formal mechanisms have been introduced to apply this principle as each local authority does what it sees fit.
Or in Hide’s words: “it is questionable whether tools in the Act have allowed for the most effective implementation of these principles”.
Therefore, instead of proposing mechanisms to strengthen this principle, for example mandated partnerships, Hide would rather the public at large not be consulted at all in case they suggest improvements that are in opposition to his ideology and agenda. The Cabinet Paper said that more proactive tools are needed so ratepayers can guide council decisions. But of course strengthening consultation -or mandate - wasn't one of them. Incidentally there is no mandate for Hides proposals, either.
The oligarchy intends to pass legislation to amend the Local Government Act after 31 August. Only then can the public have a say via the select committee process. Any decisions on the above would apply to the Auckland super council 'unless there are sound reasons for it not to'.
In other words, if Rodney Hide does not think they should.
Labels: local government