ICC team to face Select Committee over Bill

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt and Chief Executive Richard King tomorrow lead a team to Christchurch to appear before the Select Committee hearing submissions on the Better Local Services Bill.

Mr Shadbolt, Mr King, City Solicitor Warwick Cambridge and Strategy and Policy Manager Melissa Short fly from Invercargill Airport to Christchurch tomorrow morning (1 September 2016) and will appear before members of Parliament’s Local Government and Environment Select Committee at 3pm.

The Invercargill City Council is opposing amendments that allow major change to be imposed on local communities, with little or no community support.

In particular the Council questions the removal of the right to a judicial review; the lack of poll provisions in the transfer of water assets to a council-controlled organisation (CCO); and changing of poll provisions so amalgamations can go ahead even if residents in local areas disagree.

In July, the Invercargill City Council published a full page in The Southland Times newspaper urging Southlanders to unite and fight against draconian legislation currently before Parliament that attacks local democracy.

The Council also ran a public poll and respondents were overwhelmingly opposed to provisions in the Better Local Services Bill.

Council representatives will tomorrow voice their concerns to the Select Committee over the inadequate consultation with the Local Government Sector and that the Bill has been drafted in haste.

Statements in the media from the Minister of Local Government Sam Lotu-Iiga that he had discussed this with Southern councils earlier this year and they had not raised concerns, were misleading.

While the Minister had met with council representatives in Invercargill earlier this year, the meeting was a general, informal chat about the sector and there was nothing to suggest anything like the draconian provisions of the Better Local Services Bill.

Further, the Minister had sought to portray Invercargill City Council as the lone voice against this Bill.  However, Invercargill’s position is backed by Local Government New Zealand.  At the Local Government New Zealand Conference in late July, 97% of councils vigorously opposed any measures to remove local decision-making around council assets.