In praise of localism

LGNZ logoLast month I attended the LGNZ conference on behalf of the Waitemata Local Board. I reported back on the conference at our August Board meeting.   Here is my pick of the best presentation from the conference.

A Global Perspective on localism

At a time when there have been unprecedented attacks on local government by the National government I thought Dr Oliver Hartwich presentation  A global perspective on localism was the most relevant of the conference.

In his view the decline of local Government is deplorable as there are many negative sides to centralisation.  There are philosophical and economic reasons to localise.  Dr Hartwich suggests we need to ask the question “not what LG might do but what is it we need of a central administration”. This is the basis of subsidiarity which he strongly supports as a liberal economist.

Local government is the best provider of services as it creates competition and ensures people have choices about where they want to live. NZ is unusual in  the amount of spending controlled by central government (89%), lower revenues and lags behind in local government investment. Central government is the best way to engage citizens and preserve individual freedoms but the upper tier is the least efficient and most detached.

Dr Hartwich argued that democracy works best with strong local government and that NZ should move in the same direction as the world trend toward localism.