Respondents to a public poll today by the Invercargill City Council are overwhelmingly opposed to provisions in the Better Local Services Bill, Council Chief Executive Richard King said today.
The Invercargill City Council has today been running a Council poll, from 8.30am to 5.00pm, where people can ring in, email or return a newspaper coupon, with their views.
Mr King said as at 4pm today more than 230 people had called the phone lines manned by City Councillors, who were answering the phones in shifts to take down people’s views. A further 16 emails had been received and two people had felt so strongly about it that they had hand-delivered their answers to the Council immediately, instead of posting them in.
Mr King said 100% of poll respondents were completely opposed to any move by the Government to transfer Council’s water assets to a company, or implementation of a council-led amalgamation proposed without a poll of electors to determine the outcome.
In addition to callers from Invercargill and Bluff, a significant number of callers had called from Southland District, showing the proposals also worried people in other areas.
Mr King said he was concerned by comments in the media by Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga suggesting that he had met with Southern councils two months ago and they had not raised any concerns about the legislation.
“The elected members who met with the Minister said that it was a general, informal chat about the sector – there was nothing to suggest anything like the provisions of the Better Local Services Bill.
“There has been no consultation with Local Government prior to introduction of this Bill and while the Minister insists in press statements and media interviews that it is good for the people of New Zealand and does not curtail their democratic rights, that is not what is set out in the Bill. What he says and what is in the Bill are completely different.
“Further, the Minister is seeking 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 last week 97% of councils vigorously opposed any measures to remove local decision-making around council assets,” he said.
Mayor Tim Shadbolt has also received communications from other mayors in New Zealand, who have said they’ve made their opposition clear to the Minister.
Public opposition to the Bill was also very clear in the public responses received today. These included:
- “I’m backing Council all the way. You all have to front up. This cannot go through. It will be like the electricity reforms – a total disaster.”
- “Delete ‘Better’ from the Bill and insert ‘Worse’.”
- “We don’t want to be like Auckland.”
- “We’ve been here six years from Auckland and we wouldn’t go back.”
- “I’m totally against it.”
- The Government is getting too strong.”
- “I wish my name was Guy Fawkes, because I could go and blow up Parliament.”
Mr King said clearly the provisions of the Bill had hit a nerve with ordinary people, who wanted to retain democratic, local decision-making.