Key Points:

Act has a radical agenda for local government, but party leader Rodney Hide is keeping his lips sealed on what progress he would like to make on it in his new role as Minister of Local Government.

National and Act agree on the need to change the Resource Management Act, but Mr Hide has gone silent on his party's pre-election policies for much wider restructuring in the sector, as he changes from campaigner to minister.

Act wants councils to privatise their commercial activities and to supply water on a "fully commercial basis", but Mr Hide would not identify yesterday which activities should be privatised or discuss these policies at all.

"People know what we think," he said. "Now our job is to take on a bigger role, where I have to be mindful I'm in a National-led Government. I'm not going to cause them any undue difficulties because anything that happens will need to have the agreement of the National-led Government."

The transition has also involved his apologising to Prime Minister-elect John Key for saying on the day after the election that on some things he found Mr Key was "to the left of Helen Clark".

One of Mr Hide's most delicate tasks will be implementing likely big changes to councils after the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance makes its recommendations by the end of March.

Auckland City Mayor John Banks said Mr Hide's appointment was an inspired choice. He would have an "extraordinarily challenging and important role" in reshaping Auckland.

Although outside the Cabinet, Mr Hide will be a member of the Cabinet expenditure control committee, which will focus in part on eliminating programmes "that do not deliver value for money".

In local government, Mr Hide is keen to revive Act's attempts, narrowly blocked at the first hurdle in the House, to cap rates increases to the level of inflation plus population growth.

"We have had drawn out of the ballot on two occasions a rates-capping bill and I'm interested in exploring that.

"I've got a broad intent to get costs down where possible and look at getting a structure that gets a good deal for ratepayers.

"We're concerned about the cost to ratepayers of ever-rising rates, particularly those on fixed incomes like pensioners and business and the like, and also the costs that local government often imposes on business that are often, we think, unnecessary.

"We have been conscious for years and years that central Government has dumped a whole lot of costs on to local government that have had to be passed on to ratepayers."

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee said Mr Hide was a good listener and familiar with Auckland issues.

"I'm sure he will do a good job as Minister of Local Government and I look forward to working with him."