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Local Government Reforms  

It is probably not surprising that former Minister Nick Smiths proposal to increase mayoral powers has been rejected by Hamilton City. Unsurprisingly, Mayor Julie Hardaker thought that having an executive mayor was “good for democracy”.

Presumably, our Council still needs to deal with these proposals, if they have not already been ‘work-shopped’, and decisions taken behind closed doors. Submissions were after all due to close on 26 July.

New Minister David Carter appears more cautious overall than his predecessor, and this particular proposal will undoubtedly raise hackles elsewhere. Mayor Leach has already demonstrated autocratic tendencies without the benefit of legislative backing, and although certain members will likely push back, a mostly compliant Council is unlikely to resist.   

The proposals are based on the powers already granted the Auckland Mayor, and include the ability to establish plans and policies, and to hire and fire the deputy mayor and committee chairs. Councillors will become highly paid cyphers to give a veneer of democracy to what will otherwise constitute an effective dictatorship. It is surprising that there has been so little reaction to date from around the country, but this may change as the mid-winter, post-ten year plan reverie recedes.




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