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PM presses for more interest in local body elections

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

Wellington, July 26 NZPA - Prime Minister John Key says he will personally advocate for people to get out and vote at the upcoming local government elections.

Opening the Local Government New Zealand conference in Auckland this morning, Mr Key said it was disappointing that the last local body elections in 2007 attracted only a 44 percent voter turnout.

"That's the lowest turnout since the restructuring of local government in 1989," he said. "It's a worrying trend given the impact local councils have on people's lives and on our communities."

Mr Key said he would be personally advocating "very strongly" for people to vote in the October elections.

He also talked about Resource Management Act reforms and the benefits a resulting reduction in red tape would have for councils. He urged all councils to prepare for and capitalise on opportunities which next year's rugby World Cup will present.

Opportunities would also be presented by the New Zealand Cycle Trail project, which would be a drawcard for tourists while creating design, construction and project management jobs.

"While the Government can provide leadership and some funding, the success of the cycleway depends on your support and enthusiasm."

Mr Key said he was pleased with the response by local authorities to the Government's leaky homes package which, if agreed to by home owners, splits the cost of repairs between councils and central government (25 percent each), leaving the rest to home owners.

"So far 28 councils are on board, including the eight most affected. We hope to have the package in place early next year," he said.

He wrapped up by promoting greater Auckland's contentious switch from a cluster of local councils to one super city, saying it would streamline the region's governance structure.

"I anticipate there will be other regions that will, at some point, come forward to make the kind of governance changes that we're seeing in Auckland," he said. "Any further changes of that type will be community-led, not central government-led."

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