Media release: The New Zealand Initiative Welcomes Wellington City Council Proposal For City Accord

Media Release
12 October, 2017

Wellington (12 October 2017): Whatever government forms after coalition negotiations should listen to Wellington City Council’s proposal for a Wellington City Accord, says The New Zealand Initiative.

Official Information Act requests today revealed that Wellington City Council has asked the government for expanded powers for the city, whether through a City Accord modelled on Greater Manchester’s City Deal, or through a Special Economic Zone.

In 2015, the Initiative’s report In The Zone: Creating a Toolbox for Regional Prosperity proposed Special Economic Zones as a way of devolving power to local authorities prepared to take on greater responsibility. Not all national-level regulation and policy is fit for local purpose. Councils wishing to negotiate trials of policy better suited to local conditions, ready to take on the required responsibility, and prepared to be held accountable for outcomes should be given the opportunity to do what is right for their communities.

The Initiative’s Executive Director Dr Oliver Hartwich said, “It is great to see that councils like Wellington see the opportunities provided by devolution. We hope that any incoming government will work with Wellington City Council to see this happen.”

Chief Economist Dr Eric Crampton added, “Not all national-level policy makes sense for urban areas like Wellington. That makes Wellington an excellent policy trial area. For example, without iconic high-country estates, Wellington could prove an excellent trial area for far more liberal rules around foreign direct investment.”

But Dr Crampton added a caution that expanded powers for compulsory purchase under an Urban Development Authority, suggested in the proposal, would need to guard against abuses seen in other jurisdictions.

Read more about our research on special economic zones in our report In the Zone: Creating a Toolbox for Regional Prosperity. Our 2016 reports The Local Benchmark: When Smaller is Better and The Local Manifesto: Restoring Local Government Accountability noted the Manchester model and its potential suitability for New Zealand.


Dr Eric Crampton is available for interviews, please contact:

Linda Heerink, Communications Officer
The New Zealand Initiative
Phone: +64 4 494 9109
Mobile: +64 21 172 8036

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