Politician of the Week – Nick Smith

Someone has finally put councils on notice they can’t continue to increase rates to fund all their own silly projects.

The Government is set to introduce sweeping reforms to curb local council powers and get soaring debt levels down.

Troubled by escalating rates and in line with National’s public sector reforms, Local Government Minister Nick Smith wants to make elected representatives take more responsibility for wage bills and the generous packages offered to chief executives.

And he will pare back the scope of local government functions so they will only have control of essential local services such as waste, water, roads, libraries and consents.

Debt levels have increased for no real gain.

Dr Smith is concerned that local government debt has burgeoned from $1.5 billion to well over $8b in the past decade.

Common sense on the role of councils too.

He believes the blowout stems from 2002 legislation which introduced the “power of general competence”, widening the scope of council responsibilities. Dr Smith said he was “fundamentally re-evaluating that structure”.

“[Councils] can do anything they like. In the Auckland plan, they have set targets for NCEA pass rates by 2020 … nothing to do with the council.

“Councils have got targets around improvements in child abuse – a really important issue – but the proper agency is one that we all pay for as taxpayers through Child, Youth and Family.

“So the package of reform that I’m looking at is one that narrows the scope of local government back to its core function.”

Good work Nick, stick at it and maybe you can put an end to the bullshit around Maori consultative committees having power of veto while you are at it.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.