CE: Having our say on new laws

Published: 23 February 2023

The vast majority of Council’s work is related to providing the wide range of local services that residents need and expect – roads, water reticulation, sewerage and refuse collection, parks, and town planning.

It might sometimes seem that central government makes the rules and Councils all over the country are just responsible for implementing and enforcing them. But, much like our own residents have the ability to make submissions on this Council’s plans, we do have formal and informal opportunities to speak to politicians in the Beehive who make the laws.

Council has just made a submission on the Water Services Legislation Bill, that is part of the Three Waters reforms, and we've asked to present it in person to the Select Committee – this helps reinforce the grave concerns expressed in our submission, and ensures the decision-makers know the local impact of the proposed legislation.

The law of unintended consequences sometimes applies and we must speak up for ourselves, but these bills are often complicated pieces of draft legislation and require careful analysis. They do not make for relaxing reading material, believe me.

Another submission we have made recently to Government is on the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Community Participation) Amendment Bill. This bill aims to improve communities’ ability to influence alcohol regulation in their area by making changes to the alcohol licensing process.

We have a District Licensing Committee for the Ashburton District that considers, grants or renews applications for alcohol licences and managers’ certificates, and Council has drawn on that local experience to write its submission. In the 2021-22 year, the committee received and processed 352 licensing applications, so it has a constant workload.

The sale and supply of alcohol is serious business and our licensing committee ensures applicants know they must act responsibly.

Council supports community participation in the process, but it has to be balanced against the likely increase in hearings, resourcing and costs for Council. Our residents will have their chance to have their say on this topic when our Local Alcohol Policy is reviewed later this year.

Something that Council and central government have no control over is the weather, and we continue to watch and provide what support we can from afar as NEMA and local authorities all over the North Island try to clean up and respond to the extraordinary damage wrought by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Flooding is New Zealand’s number one hazard in terms of frequency, losses and declared Civil Defence emergencies, so it pays to find out if your home or business is at risk from flooding and make an emergency plan if needed.

That said, no-one could have been prepared for what unfolded in the Hawke’s Bay and other parts of the North Island and our thoughts and best wishes are with the people there.

If you would like to help, a financial donation is the best way. You can donate via our own Council’s Mayoral Flood Relief Fund or go to civildefence.govt.nz and donate directly to the Mayoral Relief Funds that have now been set up for Auckland, Tairāwhiti, Thames-Coromandel, Hawke’s Bay, Tararua, Taranaki and Taupō.

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