Local Government Reform


In response to the Better Local Government report, this event provides key stakeholders with a neutral platform to discuss and debate the reform. Supporting the reform’s objectives of improved efficiency, better public services and council role clarification, you will hear from experts, advisors and government representatives directly involved.

With recent speaker addtions, Rt Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Paul James of the DIA, and HWM Lawrence Yule, be sure to join your peers in discussions and learning.

Discuss and clarify

Address common concerns about the reform and gain insight into where things are going from here. Discuss the reasons, the roles of local and central government, reorganisation, improving efficiencies, and more.

Engage and network

Engage with your peers from across the country, while making the most of presentations from both local and central government. Be sure to stay for a drink at the end of day one and join in discussions during and between presentations.

Take advantage of our special deals

Early bird: Register and pay before 5pm, 17 July 2012 and save $300
2nd delegate for $300: Register two people from the same organisation at the same time and the second person attends for only $300

With key speakers including

• Mayors of Wellington, Tauranga and Central Otago
• Ministry for Culture and Heritage
• Local Government Funding Agency
• Federated Farmers
• Auckland Council
• Bay of Plenty Regional Council
• Greater Wellington Regional Council


Agenda: Day 1


Registration and coffee


Opening remarks from the Chair

Alastair Boult, National Director; Government Advisory, Grant Thornton


Why change? Debts, rates and the economy

Review the statistics of increased debt, public spending, and rates. Compare also the costs to local government imposed by external influences including higher pressure for infrastructure renewal, increased procedural costs, global recession, and the obligation of ETS, RMA and other legislation requirements.
• Expenditure and rates between 1993 and 2011
• Local spending on core versus ‘non-core’ services
• Challenging expectations of the 2002 reform

Mike Hensen, Senior Economist, NZIER


Towards a new paradigm for local government

As a scene-setter for current debate on local government reform in New Zealand, focus on the issues and the challenging context affecting both regional and territorial authorities. Consider the issue of dealing with change, which has ironically become one of the most constant factors in local government, including
• Changing global conditions and economic situation
• Changing government policy and legislation
• Environment, public expectations, and demographics

Fran Wilde, Chairperson, Greater Wellington Regional Council


Morning break & refreshments


Local democracy in a regional context

The Wellington Local Government Review Panel has been established to contribute to well informed decisions about possible changes to the region’s local government arrangements. Established by the Porirua City and Greater Wellington Regional Councils, the Panel is to identify a preferred model for regional local governance that considers the needs of Wellington’s regional, rural and urban communities and that will also strengthen the ability of the region to meet future challenges. With the Panel due to report back in October 2012, Panel chair, Sir Geoffrey Palmer will discuss:
• The Panel’s work including current issues being raised
• Recognising and understanding the views of citizens, businesses and community organisations

Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Chair, Wellington Region Local Government Review Panel


Re-focusing local government: Goodbye wellbeings?

What are the implications of a new focus on improving cost-efficient local infrastructure, public services and regulatory functions? What about community wellbeing? Examine the balance of functions between central and local government, and the re-focus on infrastructure.
• Defining the change and what will be affected
• The impact of reform on planning and community representation
• Representing the wellbeings and re-defining ‘core’ services

Jonathan Salter, Partner; Local Government & Environment, Simpson Grierson


Wellbeing 1: Growing economic success in the Bay

As one of New Zealand’s top performing regions in economic development, the 2011 BERL report reveals the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s achievements. Moving up 5 places since 2010, discover how the Regional Council has worked locally to contribute to local and national economic success.
• Building strong partnerships at a regional and national level
• Implementing the region’s strategy, Bay of Connections
• Growing our regions for national benefit

Cheryl MacGregor, Economic Development Executive, Bay of Plenty Regional Council
Fiona McTavish, General Manager Strategic Development, Bay of Plenty Regional Council


Wellbeing 2: Culture and Heritage - Who is responsible?

There is a lot of positive work done by local authorities to build a community’s culture and ensure its heritage recognition. Learn how the Ministry for Culture and Heritage works in partnership with local government in support of cultural objectives.
• Local and central planning and implementation strategies
• The contribution of culture to other wellbeings
• Project funding and continued support

Lewis Holden, Chief Executive, Ministry for Culture and Heritage


Lunch break


Setting a responsible fiscal strategy

There are increasing requirements, from both central government and ratepayers, for local government to clearly delineate their fiscal strategies. Eighteen months after amalgamation, Auckland Council has had it's first 10 year 'Long-term Plan' adopted by councilors. Gain insight into the strategy which will deliver value for money for ratepayers.
• Managing the portfolio including prudent use of debt
• Rates charging and rates limits
• Creating a strategy with short and long term effectiveness

Andrew McKenzie, Chief Financial Officer, Auckland Council


Panel discussion: Development contributions and their contribution to growth

The Government is set to undertake a review of development contribution policy later this year. With concerns being voiced over the adverse affect on local business and job growth, examine the reasoning and impact of the review on various stakeholders.
• Balancing costs against affordable housing, job and investment opportunities
• The consequences of the legislative shift from RMA to LGA
• Inconsistency concerns in application and use by Councils

Connal Townsend, Chief Executive, The Property Council of New Zealand
Grant Hewison, Special Counsel; Local Govt & Environment, Kensington Swan
Linda O’Reilly, Partner; Resource Management & Local Government, Brookfields Lawyers


Afternoon break & refreshments


Stakeholder perspective: A call for funding reform

Federated Farmers has welcomed the latest reforms being led by central government. However, a significant burden is placed on farmers when local authority spending, rates and debt increases, causing the organisation to call for an additional reform in funding policy. Examine how funding reform could assist both the private and public sectors financially.

Bruce Wills, National President, Federated Farmers


LGFA update: The impact of reform on borrowing

As one of only two agent entities rated A++ credit by Standard and Poor’s (New Zealand government being the other), the LGFA’s primary purpose has been to provide more efficient funding costs and an expansion on funding sources for local authorities. Learn how limitations to expenditure will impact LGFA efforts and the agency’s progress so far.
• Success of recent LGFA tenders
• Borrowing offshore to achieve lower interest rates

Philip Combes, Chief Executive, Local Government Funding Agency


Summary remarks from the Chair and networking drinks

Agenda: Day 2


Welcome back from the Chair

Alastair Boult, National Director; Government Advisory, Grant Thornton


Innovation and collaboration: Driving success during reform

Since the 1990s, the political cost of driving change has subdued government innovation; undermining New Zealand’s status as global innovation leaders post-1980 reforms. With the latest focus being on structural change, explore how the government needs to recapture the innovative drive to succeed during reform.
• Efficiency and service insights from UK’s Big Society Programme
• Balancing fiscal responsibility and political risk
• Recent innovation including shared services and centralisation
• Sustainability issues of structural change

Alastair Boult, National Director; Government Advisory, Grant Thornton


Panel discussion: Amalgamation - The future of local government?

Recent reform and reorganisation reviews have fueled polarised views on the benefits and downfalls of amalgamation. With those skeptical of merging and those in favour of improving efficiencies, engage with key stakeholders to address these concerns.
• Challenges and benefits of merging services
• Comparing shared services and other alternatives
• Local representation and the impact of amalgamation

Andrew McKenzie, Chief Financial Officer, Auckland Council
Bruce Simpson, Chief Financial Officer, Greater Wellington Regional Council
Blair King, Chief Executive, Tararua District Council


Morning break & refreshments


Mayoral Panel: The future of local government

Explore Mayoral perspectives on the future organisation of local government. Examine how the reform might impact the identity of cities and also council’s ability to make policy choices based on specific needs and wants of communities.
• What will the need of the ratepayer be in 5, 10, 15 years?
• Will the current reforms address those needs?
• The challenges of service delivery on Zero budgets

Lawrence Yule, Mayor of Hastings
Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington
Stuart Crosby, Mayor of Tauranga
Tony Lepper, Mayor of Central Otago


Improving efficiencies in local government

The local government efficiency taskforce is to address issues regarding streamlining and reducing costs of local government planning, consultation, and reporting. Explore the challenges these key areas present for local government and potential methods for improving efficiencies.
• Statutes both governing and duplicating reporting requirements
• The impact of reform on current council plans including LTPs
• Streamlining planning

Linda O’Reilly, Partner; Resource Management & Local Government, Brookfields Lawyers


Managing organisational change during reform

For any reform to be successful, it is imperative that stakeholders are informed, involved and understand the objectives. Prepare yourself for change by learning key methods for success in managing people and planning.
• Minimising operational impact with effective stakeholder engagement
• Planning an effective strategy with measurable benefits
• Supporting and sustaining change for continued success

Meredith Osmond, Managing Director, ThoughtPartners


Lunch break


Expanding Mayoral powers

With the limitations on Mayoral powers set to change in 2013, learn what these changes mean for council activities and how this has been applied in Auckland already.
• Appointing deputy and establishing committees
• Mayoral leadership over plan, policy and budgets

Grant Hewison, Special Counsel; Local Govt & Environment, Kensington Swan


Local and regional economic development: The future of community wealth creation

Regional and local policies contribute to national performance of economic growth, and also to a broader development agenda. Explore the importance of local and central government working together for smarter investments, plus the significance of quality workforce on local ability to innovate and be resilient to shock.
• The importance of successful private enterprises to create local wealth, jobs and improved living standards
• The impact of local business conditions to achieve prosperity

Bill Findlater, Chairman; EDANZ & CEO, Nelson Regional EDA


DIA address: Where to from here?

Having considered the issues and challenges facing local government, receive an update on how the reform will progress from here. Hear about the progress of phase one, the roles of those influencing future change, and the next expected steps for local and central government.
• The Efficiency Taskforce, infrastructure groups and Productivity Commission work
• Managing submissions and Bill considerations
• The outlook for 2013 including further legislation changes

Paul James, Deputy Chief Executive Policy Regulatory & Ethnic Affairs, Department of Internal Affairs


Closing remarks from the Chair and end of conference


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