New Zealand’s councils vote on four topics at LGNZ’s AGM

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has today voted on four remits about topical matters for the sector and our communities at the 2015 LGNZ Annual General Meeting, held in Rotorua.

Smoking outside cafes, restaurants and bars
The first remit proposed by Palmerston North City Council asked that LGNZ requests that the Government develops and implements legislation to prohibit smoking outside cafes, restaurants and bars. Members strongly supported this remit.

Levy on plastic shopping bags
The second remit asked that LGNZ requests that the Government impose a compulsory levy on plastic shopping bags at point of sale. This remit was proposed by Palmerston North City Council. Members voted strongly in favour.

Members speaking to this remit said they supported the Government’s recent announcement to invest $1.2 million dollars in recycling stations at some major retail outlets but argued that more action is needed. Whilst recycling is important, the country must also focus on reduction in bag usage. Local government’s view is imposing a compulsory levy at the point of sale will act as a deterrent, reducing the total number of single use plastic bags produced. The introduction of levies in countries like Denmark, Ireland and China have led to a dramatic reduction in plastic bag use.

Subsidy for water and wastewater schemes
The third remit was two-fold. First, that LGNZ urgently engages with Government to have the water and wastewater subsidy schemes re-introduced. Second, that the funding available be at least $20 million per annum for water supply schemes and at least $20 million per annum for wastewater schemes. It was proposed by the Far North District Council and members unanimously supported both parts of the remit.

LGNZ’s view is this funding will support better water quality requirements under the Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

“Most importantly, these subsidy schemes will provide important funding support for small communities who cannot afford to upgrade their water and waste water infrastructure. This effectively represents the reinstatement and top up of Government subsidy schemes established in 2002 and 2005,” says LGNZ President Lawrence Yule.

It also emphasises the importance of appropriate funding for local government where costs are centrally imposed; a key topic in LGNZ’s Local Government Funding Review manifesto being released on the morning of 21 July at LGNZ’s conference.

Rating on Crown property
The fourth asked that LGNZ investigate the possibility, practicality and principle of local authorities charging rates against Crown owned properties. This remit was proposed by Wanganui District Council and the members voted overwhelmingly in favour, again a significant topic covered by LGNZ’s Local Government Funding Review.

In concluding the Local Government New Zealand 2015 Annual General Meeting Mr Yule said these were important issues for our communities.

“Our communities have spoken. We now have a strong mandate from New Zealand’s local governments and the communities they represent to move forward and work with the Government to progress these matters,” says Mr Yule.