When it comes to centralisation, New Zealand is an outlier amongst developed countries, with decision making heavily concentrated in central government politicians and officials. For every tax dollar spend by local authorities, Wellington spends $7.30.
This is not a record to be proud of. Comparisons with OECD countries show that productivity per capita and decentralised decision making are correlated, and on both measures New Zealand ranks back of the developed world pack. More practically, New Zealand’s diverse communities have long outgrown one-size-fits-all policy making, and there is a growing acceptance that we need to devolve and decentralise decision making to celebrate and leverage our differences.
The challenge is how do we do it?
Local Government New Zealand and The New Zealand Initiative have joined up to develop a policy roadmap on just how to devolve and deconcentrate power through their Localism Project.
On 28 February 2019, LGNZ and the Initiative presented the first cut of this work at the Localism Symposium. We invite interested parties to come and critique our work in a workshop session in Wellington to help develop a robust framework through which communities can have their decision making powers restored, and share insights into public perceptions of localism and local government.
To read the Local government position statement on localism click here.
#localismNZ: Bringing power to the people explains the rationale behind localism and responds to commonly heard objections. This essay explains how unusual New Zealand's centralism is when compared internationally. New Zealand's councils have limited fiscal autonomy. Their mandate is also much more restricted that local government in other parts of the world.
New Zealand needs to debate the evidence and ideas that underpin localism. The New Zealand Initiative and LGNZ are calling for a shift in the way public decisions are made in New Zealand, by seeking a commitment to localism.
To read #localismNZ: Bringing power to the people click here.
To view The New Zealand Initiative's work on localism click here.
To view the presentation slides click the links below: