New purpose of local government

In December 2012 the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Act 2012 (the amending Act) was passed by Parliament and changed the purpose of local government.

As amended, section 10 of the Local Government Act (LGA) now says:

(1) The purpose of local government is—
(a) to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities; and
(b) to meet the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses.

Section 10(1)(a) is unchanged. Section 10(1)(b) is new and replaces the “four well-being” purposes, which are repealed.

Our response

It is necessary for councils to review their activities to make sure they fit within this new purpose of local government. We undertook such a review during our annual planning process. This involved reviewing existing information and documents to answer the key questions about each activity we do:

  1. is the activity ‘local infrastructure’, a ‘local public service’ or a ‘regulatory function’?, if not
  2. is the activity meeting a community ‘want’ and / or ‘need’; and
  3. in either case, is the activity is being delivered in the most cost effective way for households and businesses?

In conducting this review, we focussed on our ‘activities’ as they are identified in the Council’s 2012-22 Long-Term Plan. The review did not extend to how the Council delivers its corporate functions such as human resources and financial services, amongst other functions.

The review found that Council does undertake some activities that fall outside our current understanding of the terms ‘local infrastructure’, a ‘local public service’ and a ‘regulatory function’. However in all cases, we were able to determine that the community had given us a mandate to, or there was a clear need for our Council to, provide for the activity.

If you would like further information on how we conducted this review, please contact the Research, Consultation and Planning team.

We will continue to assess information on the impact of the new purpose as it comes to our attention and review our assessment of Council’s activities as necessary.

We have also updated our Significance Policy in light of the change in purpose. The new policy can be found on page 123.