The current way in which New Zealand is governed is unusually centralised. In fact, New Zealand is an outlier compared to our developed world peers, where local government is responsible for almost half of public spending. In New Zealand its 12 percent.
That’s a problem because compared to most successful countries the citizens of New Zealand have little ability to influence the shape of the public services they receive. Instead we rely on a small group of people in central government to make decisions for us. But central government cannot cope with complexity, instead taking a “top down” and “one size fits all” approach to policy making that no longer meets the needs of our increasingly diverse communities and local economies. What works for Gisborne doesn’t necessarily work for Nelson, Otaki or Gore.
If we are to successfully tackle the social, economic and environmental challenges facing us then a strategic approach to devolution is needed. An approach that allows local communities and local governments to involve themselves in the decisions that affect their social, economic and political environment. In other words a commitment to localism.