Council And Welfare Reform

by Desk Editor on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 — 10:01 PM

A bill making it easier for local councils to merge and limiting the areas they could work in passed its first hurdle in Parliament on Tuesday night.

The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill completed its first reading by 61 to 59 with National, ACT and United Future supporting. It was sent to the Local Government and Environment Committee for consideration by October 15.

The Bill introduces a new more limited purpose statement for local government “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.”

The Bill also makes it easier for central government to intervene in local councils and makes amalgamation proposals much quicker and simpler to process.

Local Government Minister David Carter said councils made up a large part of the economy and the sector could operate more effectively and efficiently.

Phil Twyford said Labour would oppose the bill as it was a “politicised attack on local government’’ that would undermine democratic processes.

After the bill completed its first reading MPs turned to the second reading debate of the Social Security (Youth Support and Work Focus) Amendment Bill.

The Bill introduces a new system of income support for young people and stronger work testing to some benefit categories.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the bill was needed because the welfare system was not working as well as it should or it could.

The system needed to be modernised with the emphasis on helping people back into work, Bennett said.

Labour’s Jacinda Ardern said the bill would not achieve that and would be opposed as it would not make a difference to those who were on benefits.

Ardern said the Government should stop treating the system as one of “social shame’’, to one that emphasised “social security’’.

The bill completed its second reading by 63 to 57 with National, Maori Party, ACT and United Future supporting.

The House rose at 10pm interrupting the second reading of the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill

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