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Local Government Act 2002

NZ $35.00
Author(s): Peter Mitchell, Jonathan Salter
Published: 18 March, 2003
Pages: 58



The Local Government Act 2002 makes profound changes to the way local authorities are empowered to perform their general operational functions (as distinct from their mandatory or regulatory responsibilities which continue to be derived from legislation such as the Resource Management Act 1991, the Building Act 1991, the Dog Control Act 1996, the Fencing and Swimming Pools Act 1987, the Reserves Act 1977 etc).

The Local Government Act 2002 builds on the recent emphasis in local government legislation on consultative procedures, accountability mechanisms and annual planning. However, this is taken to a new level by establishing that local authorities exist to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of their communities. This necessitates councils identifying the outcomes communities desire in relation to these well-beings, and confers on them the powers necessary to promote the delivery of those outcomes. The Act contains extensive procedural requirements to ensure local authorities identify their mandate from their communities.

This is a radical shift from the traditional empowerment of local authorities by express prescription. Some specific prescriptions and prohibitions remain in the new Act (ie activities councils must or must not perform) and some of the detail of the Local Government Act 1974 is retained – primarily in respect of matters which will be the subject of separate reforms.

The Local Government Act 1974 is a massively cumbersome and, in places, confused enactment with some surprisingly archaic prescriptions. The Local Government Act 2002 which substantially supersedes it is a much more coherent and a briefer enactment. Nevertheless, it still runs to 314 sections, 20 schedules and 424 pages!

This paper focuses first on the major conceptual changes contained in the Act – the role, purposes, powers and decision-making processes – and then deals with some specific topics which are important to understanding the new framework of local government created by the Act.


Content outline

  • Purpose, role and powers of local authorities
  • Planning, decision-making and accountability
  • Council organisations
  • Water services
  • Property-related matters
  • Regulatory and enforcement matters
  • Governance issues
  • Transitional provisions, consequential amendments, repeals, and savings
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