Cowley to chair national Local Government Forum

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Tauranga Business Chamber chief executive officer Matt Cowley has been appointed the new chair of the Local Government Forum.

The Forum is a group of major business organisations that aims to promote efficient and effective local government. Cowley, a former Tauranga councillor, is also a director of the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

“I’ve spent a lot of my working career interacting with local government,” Cowley told the Bay of Plenty Business News.

“I’ve been an elected member, an employee, a customer, and a commentator.”

Cowley replaces Auckland’s Michael Barnett who stepped down from the role in March. Barnett recently retired as head of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and was replaced by former Tauranga MP Simon Bridges.

“As Forum Chair for the past 12 years, Michael Barnett was a very credible and highly respected spokesperson on local government issues from a business and wider community perspective,” said Cowley.

Cowley noted that the members of the Local Government Business Forum were significant representatives of ratepayers – businesses and farmers.

“Local government is a vital part of the economic and social landscape and I see the Forum’s role as promoting policies that will maximise the sector’s contribution to New Zealanders’ wellbeing,” said Cowley.

“The best way for local government to contribute to maximising wellbeing is for it to do its core activities well and keep its spending and rates under control.”

According to a statement issued on behalf of the forum, it is comprised of organisations that have a vital interest in the activities of local government. Its members include Business New Zealand, the Electricity Networks Aotearoa, Federated Farmers of New Zealand, Hospitality New Zealand, New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and the New Zealand Initiative. The Forum was established in 1994.

Cowley told the BOP Business News the forum was made up of several nationwide business associations and that Chambers of Commerce have a wide variety of members covering all industries, which was why Michael Barnett was a logical choice of forum Chair for over a decade.

“The forum believes in the power of unity across industries,” he said.

“It identifies public policy matters that impact a range of industries to send a united business perspective to all political leaders. The forum champions the voice of rural and urban industries, recognising the importance of regional communities alongside New Zealand’s largest urban centres.”

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David Porter
David Porter
THE PORTER REPORT - A monthly update on the business world from David Porter

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