29 Jul 2009

Minister labelled bully by Auckland mayor

5:40 am on 29 July 2009

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has been called a 'bully' during a fiery question-and-answer session at the Local Government conference in Christchurch.

Mr Hide drew sharp criticism about the speed of reforms of the Local Government Act.

Changes to the Act would see councils focus on core public services, rather than social or recreational services. The bill is expected to be introduced by the end of the year.

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams asked Mr Hide on Tuesday if he really thought he had the mandate to carry out the reforms so quickly, given ACT's recent low polling.

He said Mr Hide was not taking the councils or communities with him, but instead trying to be a "bulldozer and a bully".

Mr Hide told the conference he stood by his plans, saying it was a now-or-never opportunity for widescale change.

Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule told the conference his organisation is happy that Mr Hide is listening to the sector despite the tight time frame.