Purpose of Local Government to be changed

29 Jun 2012 |

One of the key changes promoted is to amend the focus for local government to ensure it carries out what the Government considers are “core services”.

Previously the local government sector has had a general power of competence to carry out anything that achieves its purpose which is currently described as promoting the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities, in the present and for the future.

Essentially any activity you care to imagine will fit within one of these broadly described purposes.

The Amendment Bill seeks to “tighten up” this purpose and is to replace the purpose of local government with:

“To meet the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses”.

Local infrastructure and regulatory functions are well understood and applied. The key change is to now focus the purpose on “local public services”.

The key word is ‘public’. This is to distinguish local authorities’ functions from those that can be provided by the private sector.

Tightening the purpose of local government will create debate about whether a particular activity is within, or outside a Council’s purpose. Some interesting activities on the fringes of these definitions may include activities such as gyms, a sport stadium, and forestry assets.

For any questions about the local government reforms, contact our local government specialist Michael Garbett.