Smith Strikes Fast!
Friday, March 2, 2012 at 2:19PM
Bill Barclay

From Waikato Times Website within the last hour:

Supercity thinking looks set to spread across the country and the Waikato.

At yesterday's NZ Landcare Trust conference at Waikato University, local government minister Nick Smith outlined plans to reshape New Zealand's local authority landscape.

His comments came after the Upper Coromandel Landcare Association announced a campaign to push for Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki district councils to split from Waikato Regional Council.

The district councils' main job involves running infrastructure such as roads and water systems while the regional council covers natural resource management, land use planning and environmental matters across Waikato.

Mr Smith said the reform of local government in Auckland posed a "substantial challenge" for the rest of the country.

"I am not convinced that the structure we have at the moment ... is either doing it the most efficiently or delivering the environmental goods.

"[The unitary council] is a model that in my view offers efficiency gains, but I'm equally clear we have to take a catchment based approach. That is, if you look at a complex river system, like in the Waikato, there is no way you're going to put the town of Taupo and Hamilton under the same council. And you are going to need to manage a river like the Waikato as a single entity if you are going to do so confidently from a water quality and an allocation perspective."

He said there was room to expand the model but hinted that areas such as Waikato, Canterbury, Clutha and Otago would need "some such body" to manage river systems on a catchment-wide basis.

No final decisions have been made. Mr Smith expected to make announcements on reforms in the next month or two.

 Reihana can take credit for great timing for her direct approach to the Minister.

This makes the blithe "She'll be right mate!" approach of our Mayor on Wednesday look a bit prematiure.

I will post any details as they come to hand.






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