An article of mine has just been published in the New Zealand Law Journal:
Public participation in local authority decision-making has undergone somewhat of a renaissance, with the 2002 reform of local government legislation placing greater emphasis on "grass-roots" decision-making. There now seems to be greater understanding of the importance of community views to the decisions made by local authorities. And the range of participation processes employed by local authorities has grown: from traditional submission processes, to mechanisms such as public referenda, focus groups, and the like.
This change of culture brings with it greater frustration from the community when it feels shut out of decisions. A failure to consult may also present a new and more direct mechanism to attack a decision of the local authority. An example is last year's (ultimately aborted) proposal to construct a national sports stadium on Auckland's waterfront. The decisions – and the process by which the decisions were made – led to vociferous debate and polarised the city. The decisions also led to the one of the first direct challenges to a decision of a local authority under the decision-making processes and principles under the Local Government Act 2002 (LG Act 2002).
In this article, I describe and discuss the salient decision-making and consultation obligations that apply to decisions of local authorities and use the recent stadium selection decision to illustrate how they work. The purpose of the discussion is two-fold: first, to identify and navigate the complex decision-making framework for local authorities imposed in the recent reforms, and, secondly, to make some observations about the special circumstances which arose in the stadium selection decisions.
Much of the article is based on previous analysis on this blog:
As usual, feedback and comment welcomed.