With sweeping changes facing local government, and the very existence of some councils under threat, Federated Farmers is urging rural New Zealanders to step up their interest in the election campaign this year.
“The Three Waters juggernaut is gathering steam despite a great deal of opposition,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard said. “Unchanged, it will put control of critical infrastructure in the hands of unelected and hard to hold to account entities, likely headquartered far away from rural New Zealand.”
This, plus moves for district planning functions to be regionalised, will leave some provincial councils with little left to do, “and thus ripe for forced amalgamations, given the review of the future of local government doesn’t wind up until next year,” Andrew said.
Local body elections happen again in September/October and Federated Farmers has just released its 2022 Local Elections Platform. It’s on the Federated Farmers’ website and sets out the federation’s position on the major issues swirling around local government, with questions and advice for voters and candidates.
“Amidst this uncertainty, communities will need sound, level-headed representation like never before, as their councils navigate this once-in-a-generation change and fight for local accountability,” Andrew said.
“There are the basics too. Our need for safe and sustainable rural roads, smart rating systems, and common-sense regulation are enduring. Such things are essential to the wellbeing of the farming community; in times of great change matters simple and important can easily be lost.”
Federated Farmers asks rural leaders with commitment, practical common sense and energy to consider standing for election, and all residents to put searching questions to those who would represent them in local government.
“Be daring! Talk up core services, talk down wasteful, feel-good expenditure and big rates increases, and support our farmers in these challenging times. Most of all fight for the right of local communities to decide on how their local democracy functions, not Wellington,” Andrew said.