Future of local governance
Dame Kerry Prendergast gives her views on governance issues raised in the IoD submission on the Future for Local Government draft report.
Good governance in local authorities is essential to the delivery of effective services and outcomes that benefit all New Zealanders. The Future for Local Government draft report acknowledges the critical role local government plays in New Zealand’s governance and in building strong, healthy and prosperous communities.
It differentiates local government – the local authority structures established by statute – from local governance – the system by which communities are governed – in essence, who makes decisions, how they are made, and who the decision-makers are accountable to. In any place or community, local governance can involve many decision-makers including central government, local authorities, hapū/iwi and Māori organisations, business and community organisations, and others.
In our submission we reinforced four key elements of local governance:
The Future for Local Government review recognises the significant changes communities and local authorities are experiencing and the increasing number of challenges, from climate change and emissions reduction work to demographic changes, COVID-related fiscal challenges, Treaty obligations and funding infrastructure.
Directors play a key role in local governance, from charities to council-controlled organisations (CCOs), port companies, small businesses and more. Good directors deliver great value for their organisations. CCOs are a living proof of concept. They operate with a mix of commercial discipline, community purpose, elected oversight and a desire to make their communities better, stronger and more sustainable. When they deliver, they make New Zealand a better place to live.
The role non-elected directors play in our communities needs to be recognised along with the importance of governance as a skill in itself, and the need for training, support and best practice to support governors in their roles.