With more and more councils expressing concern or leaving the troubled “Local Government New Zealand” lobby group, the Taxpayers’ Union is calling on the Government to fix the anomaly which sees the controversial outfit carved out of official information transparency law, despite being 100 percent ratepayer funded.

LGNZ is deemed not to be a “council controlled organisation” meaning that it does not have to appear in every council’s financial statements.  But due to a legislative mistake going back decades, it also means the organisation is not covered by the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.

“With LGNZ going partisan on Three Waters, ratepayers now face a rogue organisation unaccountable to ratepayers and not subject to any transparency,” says Jordan Williams, a spokesman for the Taxpayers’ Union.

“With their flash offices on Lambton Quay, deep in the Wellington beltway, these professional lobbyists no longer represent ratepayers or localism. They are shills for the Government trying to take democratic powers away from local communities. No wonder councils up and down New Zealand are pulling out.”

“Ratepayers will be particularly concerned to read the comments from a group of Christchurch Councillors alleging that LGNZ is about ‘junkets’.  This is long what the Taxpayers’ Union has suspected – that ratepayer money going to LGNZ is being used to fund lavish travel to councillors, but in such a way as to be secretive.”

“This abuse of ratepayer money needs to stop. LGNZ needs to be wound up, or at the very least conform to the sort of transparency we expect from other publicly-funded agencies.”