7.1 Local government consultation and decision-making

Local government: Results of the 2005/06 audits.

The Local Government Act 2002 (the Act) provides principles-based decision-making obligations that local authorities are endeavouring to understand and embed into management processes. Local authorities face risks if their decisions can be shown to be unreasonable or if they have not observed due processes for decision-making and consultation.

After the Act was passed, local government sector organisations and the Department of Internal Affairs produced a series of high-level guidance material. A need for more specific advice has emerged as local authorities have gained more experience in implementing the Act.

Although there has been no significant change in case law for some years, good practice is evolving and legislation changes have reinforced the public's expectation of greater levels of consultation.

We have dealt with a number of complex ratepayer enquiries about local authority decision-making obligations and consider that we now have enough experience to distil and reflect good practice emerging from the sector.

We brought together a working group of local government staff and advisers to provide sector input into identifying the main issues and examples of good practice. We expect to publish a report in July 2007 that will reflect what local government practitioners consider to be good practice in decision-making and consultation.

In practice, the responsibility for decision-making and consultation lies with the leaders and senior managers of local government. We expect our guidance to be useful for the sector alongside other material such as that produced by the Society of Local Government Managers and Local Government New Zealand.

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