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YOUR NEWS, YOUR VIEWS
NORTH King Country’s mayors are lending
their support to action against Council Con-
trolled Organisations (CCOs).
Although neither Max Baxter (Otorohanga)
nor Brian Hanna (Waitomo) were present at a
protest organised by Local Government New
Zealand (LGNZ) – which represents all NZ’s 78
councils – both support the move.
The action was against the Local Government
Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) which would
enable the Government to create CCOs without
the need to get support from councils and their
The Government says the aim of the bill is
to improve service delivery and infrastructure
provision at local government level.
Last Monday, the Local Government and
Environment Select Committee heard final sub-
missions on the bil, and 15 mayors and CEOs
from around the country attended to voice their
“ This is undemocratic and unacceptable,” says
“ The creation of CCOs should be a matter for
councils and their communities, and to have this
choice removed would just see decisions made
for us by someone in Wellington.”
Mr Baxter agrees.
“While some mayors and CEOs are incredibly
vocal against it, I’ll keep an open mind.
“But to be honest, unless there is a real demon-
strative gain to be had by the community, I see
no point in the reform,” he says.
“It’s a slap in the face for local democracy.
“Otorohanga runs a very frugal and efficient
council and I struggle to understand how anyone
could do it better than we do, especially if it was
run from an area where those who would run
it have no experience of the communities they
would be having such an impact on.
“It would not be fair on our community to
have to shoulder the burdens of other councils,
which is the way a CCO could be set up to do.”
LGNZ president Lawrence Yule says the bill
poses a real threat to local democracy and the
future of communities.
“It takes away a level of democracy.
“For smaller councils there is a real risk that
larger entities that are forced on them will mean
a loss of staff, and those smaller communities
are ones we are really concerned about,” he says.
“If you take the critical mass of water and road-
ing away from councils you are taking a major
part of what they do away.
“If you are a small council you would be left
with no critical mass and then they say should
we actually merge somehow, and that is where
you get into amalgamation by stealth.”
LGNZ’s director of advocacy, Helen Mexted
says the reform “could be interpreted as being
a stepping stone to council amalgamations” in
the future. But she is more concerned at the lack
of control at local level that such a move would
create. She says, as an example, CCOs could be
set up in various areas.
Current councils would continue to collect
rates for services like water and roading, but these
could then be sent on to the CCO.
“It could see people paying for other com-
“ These are the two main assets of a council
and to take them away would see maybe one
local representative on each CCO – which isn’t
enough to make a difference.”
Mr Hanna says: “We have been vocal in our
opposition to this aspect of the bill and our
communities have asked us to fight it as well.
Combining council services in this way would,
as Lawrence says, be amalgamation by stealth.”
LABOUR STEPS ASIDE
Meanwhile, Labour signalled it is stepping
back from supporting the bill after last week’s
“Labour believes in a partnership approach
between central and local government,” says
local government spokeswoman Meka Whaitiri.
“We back the ‘Kiwi dream’ and know we can’t
deliver those outcomes without a solid partner-
ship with our councils.”
For more information about the amendment
bill, visit the website – legislation.govt.nz/bill/
Mayors join LGNZ protest
OTOROHANGA mayor Max Baxter (left) and his Waitomo counterpart Brian Hanna support
Local Government New Zealand’s protest action against a bill amendment which could see the
development of Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs).
Grey Power joins protest page 3
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