Written by on September 30, 2021

A Bill introduced to Parliament on Tuesday, and now rushed through its first reading under urgency, would empower the Government to adjourn polling day multiple times without constraint – and not just in an election year, but the year after as well.

The interpretation from the opposition is that it would mean Government could delay local body elections next year, all the way through 2023.

This Bill has been introduced as part of a number of initiatives related to the Covid-19 response and has been criticised by opposition parties for the lack of consultation and explanation of  the need for both the urgency and reasons for the Bill.

Local body elections are conducted by postal ballot, not by in-person voting which makes the reason for this change difficult to understand as it relates to issues around Covid-19.

There’s a lot of pressure mounting on the Governments Three Waters proposal with 63 of the 67 Councils now publicly rejecting the proposal in its current form. A number of people are also asking the question as to what role Councils would play if water is removed from their responsibility. This legislation will add further speculation to this debate.

“I smell a rat…” that was Coromandel MP Scott Simpson’s response to  legislation when he first saw it on Tuesday.

“They’ve slipped this in without notice and under urgency.  People are rightly asking why and for what purpose? I’m not surprised that some people are joining the dots between Labour’s controversial Three Waters asset grab from TCDC and other Councils.

“There’s definitely a whiff of something not right when a government wants to give itself the power to postpone local democracy”.

Local TCDC Mayoral candidate John Freer was shocked at hearing the news and said “This is outrageous and bordering on the ridiculous. It vindicates my concerns that Government is playing a secret agenda commencing with the Three Waters Reform. I believe this latest action, by rushing a bill through Parliament, shows Government’s intention to close New Zealander’s ability to enjoy the benefits of local government.”

We have approached Chris Hipkins as the Minister responsible for Covid-19 response and the Minister who introduced the Bill for comment and will update this post when we hear from him.


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