It has emerged that a large number of local government proposals have been released by the Government just prior to the Christmas holiday period. The proposals which include nine different bills, reviews or consultation documents whose public input periods are expect to start expiring as early as 27 January.
If these concerns are credible, then the timing and volume of them is very short sighted by the Government. They knew that like everyone else all but essential council staff go on holiday at Christmas/New Year just like the ratepayers they are meant to be working for. As a result they must have also known that there would be minimal likelihood of council work getting down, in terms of staff and elected representatives being able to talk. Late December is never a good time for massive document releases like this because from about 15 December to when individual councils break for Christmas, meeting agendas are being progressively wound down. Only items that can wait or were going to wait until the new year are still on the agenda.
The Government also knew that most of New Zealand would be paying minimal attention to politics over Christmas time, never mind actively trying to participate in it as one is doing when making a submission. Non-governmental organizations might have been more interested, but that is because by their very nature, many of them focus on issues that persist year round and may have clients or interests that simply cannot wait for the new political year to start.
A quick examination of some of the nine known bills, reviews and consultation documents can be seen below. For further information, click on the links.
- Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill
- Resource Management Amendment Bill
- Urban Development Bill
Other notable items include the Fire and Emergency New Zealand funding review, the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity and the Waste Management Levy review. The Crown Minerals Bill mentioned in the article passed its Third Reading just before Christmas and is awaiting Royal Assent.