Councillors back four-year term

Chants of "four more years" could soon be ringing out inside the Dunedin City Council chambers.

That is if Dunedin city councillors get their way after voting yesterday to support a push to extend three-year local body terms to four years.

The idea was already being promoted by councils in Christchurch and Wellington in their submissions on the Government's better local government reforms, which are before a select committee.

Cr Lee Vandervis, speaking at yesterday's full council meeting in Dunedin, suggested his colleagues should follow their lead and support the move.

The change would mean costly elections were held less often, and give councils more time to put plans into action.

"A three-year term in most governments around the world is just simply not long enough to put any plans into action," he said.

Most councillors supported the idea, meaning Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull and council chief executive Paul Orders would back the change when presenting the council's submission on the reforms later this year.

However, not all councillors were in favour, with Cr Neil Collins suggesting there would be plenty of people "quite happy" to support a two-year term instead.

"Four years is a long time," he said.

"We owe it to the public to give them choice."

Cr Teresa Stevenson also worried longer terms would slow the intake of "new blood" needed to refresh councils, and suggested existing councillors might have a conflict of interest in voting for the move.

Cr Kate Wilson believed it was "totally appropriate" to ask the Government to consider the change as part of its wider reforms, but Cr Jinty MacTavish asked when - or if - the public would have a say on such a "crucial issue".

Mayor Dave Cull said that would be up to the Government to decide when considering its response to submissions.

"How they deal with it is something that we can't foretell."

Councillors voted to endorse the suggestion following the debate. Cr Stevenson abstained.

 

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