December 3, 2019
Reinvigorating local democracy: a discussion paper by LGNZ – feedback welcome by 15 Dec 2019
Submissions on Local Government NZ’s latest discussion paper Reinvigorating local democracy: The case for localising power and decision-making to councils and communities close on 15 December. You can send your comments and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or send to: Dr Mike Reid Principal Policy Advisor Local Government New Zealand PO Box 1214 Wellington 6011.
- LGNZ developed this discussion paper with the support from the NZ Initiative and in consultation with 150 people who participated in February’s Localims Synposium.
- It is designed to assist LGNZ promote localism during the build up to the 2020 Parliamentary election.
- It is asking New Zealanders for their views on the arguments made in the paper based on a set of feedback questions
- The paper itself starts off with defining constraints with addressing deep-seated social issues, environmental degradation and a declining trust of citizens in public institutions (quoting declining voter participation and concerns with NZ’s highly centralised and siloed institutional settings)
Proposals made in the paper:
- The paper calls for a shift in the way public decisions are made in NZ by seeking a commitment to localims: empowering councils and communities themselves to make decisions that affect them
- It proposes an active programme of devolution and decentralisation with the following elements:
- promoting collaborative partnerships between central and local govt
- establishing a legislative framework for local govts to take on additional roles and responsibilities to improve well-being
- promoting a place-based approach to local decision-making
- adopting new and innovative mechanisms through which citizens can participate in making decisions about their towns, cities and communities
- In particular it seeks views on the details of these elements as well as the incremental / consultative way that progress is proposed:
- Devolving roles and responsibilities; where practical decisions about services that benefit local communities should be made at the level of local govt with the active participation of affected communities – identifies the kind of services that should be considered for devolution
- Funding localims; an introduction of local specific levies or taxes that help grow the funding base for local govt
- Ensuring well-being investment meets local needs; and the need for processes to enable local communities to define their own well-being needs and debate priorities that feed into budget decisions – co-designing and co-producing services that meet identified priorities
- Deepening democracy; through the active engagement of citizens and communities at the start of decision-making processes, e.g. participatory budgeting
- An end to cost shifting and unfunded mandates; through the introduction of new legislation and measures that require central govt to provide required funding where a council is to undertake a new service
The following questions were prepared to help your response:
- Do you agree with the three recommendations in this section, devolution, negotiated devolution and removing constraints?
- If not what would you change?
- What, if any, functions currently provided by central government should be devolved to councils and other local organisations like Iwi/Maori and not for profit organisations?
- What, if any, central government responsibilities would be more effective if your council, or other local organisation, applied to take them over under the negotiated devolution approach?
- Can you identify legislative and regulatory constraints on councils and other local organisations that limit their ability to be responsive to local needs?
- What additional form of funding or tax should councils have access to in order to meet community expectations and address future challenges?
- What process should councils go through in order to implement a new levy or tax?
- Do you agree that the government’s annual well-being budget process should be informed by priorities set by each community?
- What roles could councils play to ensure that government spending on well-being addresses local needs and priorities? Feedback sheet We value your feedback on our localism proposal, these questions have been designed to help your response.
- Do you agree with the suggestion of local well-being plans and reports?
- What additional approaches could be used to strengthen participation in local government decision-making?
- What needs to change to strengthen relationships between councils, Iwi/Maori, business organisations and the community/ voluntary sector?
- Do you agree that legislation will solve the unfunded mandates and cost shifting problem?
- Are there other measures that you would recommend to reduce costs being imposed on councils?
- What else could be done to protect the constitutional status of local government?