Local govt debate urged
Local authority amalgamation was at the forefront of Michael Barnett’s speech to Porirua businesspeople recently, as he urged for more debate on the issue.
The Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive was the guest speaker at a breakfast hosted by the Porirua equivalent at Te Rauparaha Arena on August 3. He reminded the 80 council and business representatives from across region that significant change has to start with ‘‘why’’.
He said councils needed to consider the reason they exist as the basis for considering new models and structures in the future.
Mr Barnett was invited to speak because of the ongoing debate about local authority amalgamation and the need for the region to create its own solutions.
He said it was disappointing that in many cases it became business versus the community rather than business with the community. This is not in the best interests of either party.
‘‘ When businesses are doing well, they provide jobs and wealth, and the community does well.”
Porirua Chamber of Commerce director Holly Thompson said the debate that followed Mr Barnett’s speech raised an interesting consensus, that groups in this region do not have to agree on everything, but need to understand and respect the positions that lobby groups and councils take.
“This event was the first step in helping our business communities form opinions on the future of our region.”
Porirua has been at the forefront of debate on this topic, including establishing the Wellington Region Local Governance Review Panel.
Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said hearing Mr Barnett’s perspective on local government change and sharing opinions was excellent, and feedback from the event was positive.
Ms Thompson said amalgamation polarises people, but debate and discussion was vital.
‘‘What we want to do as a chamber is present as much information as we can on issues like this, so when it comes to a vote, you can make decisions as a business owner and as an individual.’’
The next speaker lined up is Martin Snedden, on September 14, talking about the business strategy around bidding and hosting the Rugby World Cup.
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