Prime Minister John Key spoke to the Local Government New Zealand Conference on Monday 16 July. The core themes of the speech were the importance of the relationship between central and local government, the Government's Better Local Government reforms and the Canterbury rebuild. The Prime Minister signalled the importance of the relationship between central and local government by reference to the local government administering legislation of the central government, such as the Resource Management Act 1991.
In relation to the reforms of local government, the Prime Minister emphasised the Government's priorities of continuing to building a more productive and competitive economy and delivering better public services to New Zealanders. The Prime Minister highlighted the level of debt in both central and local government, stating that local government needs to make changes in response to the Global Financial Crisis. He noted that local government has a role to play in creating sustained economic growth and that it needs to work to deliver better services within tight financial constraints. The Prime Minister then outlined the two phases of reform:
- First phase: refocusing the purpose of local government, introducing financial prudence requirements, strengthening council governance requirements and streamlining council reorganisation procedures. It was signalled that a Bill containing these changes will be passed before the end of 2012.
- Second phase: involves establishing a framework around central and local government regulatory roles, reviewing development contributions and investigating efficient infrastructure provision. This stage of the reform will be influenced by a report from the local government efficiency taskforce and is likely to be introduced in 2013.
The final points in the speech related to the Canterbury rebuild. The Prime Minister stated that the rebuild is an example of an ongoing opportunity for partnership between local and central government. The Prime Minister's full address can be found here.