Big Brother's creeping in

A warning that central government is hiding a power grab behind a discussion document, on improving the resource management system, was presented to Tauranga city councillors this week.

A warning was presented to Tauranga city councillors this week.

Employer and Manufacturers Association executive officer Peter Atkinson says the document proposes a system where central Government can directly alter council documents like long term plans.

“These proposals will significantly shift the balance of power between national and local governments, taking power away from local government and allowing the central government much more latitude to delve into local affairs,” says Peter.

“This is a considerable amount of power for a minister to have and the EMA is concerned over the effect such a sword of Damocles may have on council thinking around council planning processes.”

The conditions under which such powers will be exercised by the Minister for the Environment need to be clarified, says Peter.

“The discussion document almost implies that these powers will be exercised by the Minister as a matter of course, while public statements by the Minister indicate they will only be used ‘as a backstop’.

“The whole thing sounds like it has not been thought through properly.”

In its submissions to Government, the EMA is calling for clarification regarding the use of Ministerial powers, and is seeking a transparent process to be nominated for the occasions when the Minister chooses to intervene.

The discussion document presents the current Resource Management Act system as hierarchical and very decentralised. A majority of decisions are made by local government – regional councils, city and district councils and unitary authorities – that act as both a regional and district/city council. Decisions are designed to be made within a framework that flows from the national level to regional policy statements and plans, and on to district plans and rules.

At issue, is the lack of clear, up-to-date national guidance on matters of national importance which is leaving such issues to be resolved at local levels. Coupled with a highly devolved decision-making system, this has led to tension between national and local objectives and the development of inconsistent approaches across the country.

There is insufficient attention being paid to meeting future needs, as opposed to mitigating impacts. There is over-reliance on consents and Environment Court appeals in attempting to resolve fundamental tensions over resource uses/values that would be better addressed at the regional level.

New Zealand’s 78 local authorities have more than 170 resource management planning documents covering 2272 different zones, management areas or policy overlays. Scotland, with 5.2 million people, has just 37 comparable planning documents.

The sheer number of plans and the breadth of their content makes it overly complicated for New Zealanders to engage, understand and comply.

Plan-making is also expensive and time-consuming for local authorities. While plans will always require money and time to develop, under the current system it costs too much, takes too long and is unnecessarily complex.




6 Comments

Fight for Democracy

Posted on 19-05-2013 09:26 | By Michael-angelo

Local democracy is seen an impediment to overseas interests “developing” our country. Do we trust central government when every year they deliberately obfuscate information in the budget ? (is so many billion for education over 4 years an increase or a decrease in real terms? ). My wife tells me that growing up in Soviet Russia was in many ways a lot more free and democratic than life is now in New Zealand – decision making was at a local level (by the people), and there was a lot LESS bureaucracy. Of course the Soviets were the worst tyranny in history, but I can understand her disappointment – it is impossible to have democracy if everything is lies, control and self interest. People fought in WW1 and WW2 for freedom and democracy but in a society where money is more important than people, and everything has a cost but no value – we are giving it all away.

New improved BIG Brother ...

Posted on 14-05-2013 18:03 | By Plonker

Looks to me that some changes are desperately needed, the amount of Local Government debt has grown a lot in the last decade and needs to be reigned in hugely. The reports from Government highlight the general lack of ability of elected members, the lack of ability of local governemtn staff to adjust and listen to communities, generally having their own agenda despite logical and obvious reasons otherwise. The huge risk from the growth of debt in Councils under teh false and misleading concept of "growth" that is nothing more than it has ever been. Coucils really do need to be put back in their place and properly managed fiscally.

Turning minds to mush

Posted on 13-05-2013 09:51 | By The Tomahawk Kid

WWI & WWII were also about freedom. Saving us from being dictated to and how we must live, by outside powers. Allowing us to chose how we live our lives. I guess you mean the collective ownership of our own destiny Murray. Via democracy we are able to chose our own LOCAL representatives (regardless of whether they are efficient, or inefficient - good or bad). This illustrates ONE of the faults of democracy. It doesnt guarantee we get what is best, or right, or efficient, or moral - it simply guarantees the biggest GANG or group get to impose their will upon a minority. (and that is what I believe is wrong). This new power grab seeks to allow a GOVERNMENT OVERSEER to watch the democratically elected councillors to make sure they are not doing STUPID STUFF (which happens quite a bit on the local front). Do I agree with it? NO. We should be free to elect who we chose - and suffer the consequences (as we do!) HOWEVER The poor decision making by the local public in chosing their representatives is CAUSED by big government and their monopoly of the education system going back generations now. Remove them from this monopoly of turning young minds to mush, and in a few generations we may stand a chance to collectively make better decisions. All we vote for nowadays is "whats in it for us" and how much of other peoples money we can get - allowing the big issues (like this one) to be ignored.

Big brother- more like an accident looking for a place to happen ?

Posted on 12-05-2013 21:44 | By R.Paterson

Its a real problem and it is bad enough as it is now without having the Central lot ferreting around putting their finger in the pie.

One more step ...

Posted on 12-05-2013 20:47 | By Murray.Guy

One more step in the erosion of Democracy. Amalgamations, joint governance with unelected, CCO and unelected boards, more power to Mayors, more power to central government - And folk won’t even realise it’s happening until it’s too late. Makes a mockery of World war 1 & 2. Democracy was never about efficiency, more importantly, about ownership.

Im

Posted on 12-05-2013 19:36 | By Capt_Kaveman

all for it if it removes the local bylaws some idiot councilors dream up

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now