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ARC councillor opposes $800,000 'gift to Labour'

RAM media release 25.10.06

ARC councillor opposes $800,000 'gift to Labour'

"By a one-vote majority in a secret vote, the Auckland Regional Council has gifted $800,000 to the Labour government, about the same amount that the Auditor-General said the Labour Party had defrauded the taxpayers of New Zealand," said ARC councillor Robyn Hughes, a member of RAM (Residents Action Movement).

At a closed-door meeting of the ARC on Tuesday 24 October, six ARC councillors voted not to seek reimbursement from the Labour government for land taken at Wenderholm Regional Park under the Foreshore & Seabed law, even though this legislation allows for such reimbursement. According to ARC officers, the value of this land is around $800,000.

"Ratepayers just a few dollars in default to the ARC are pursued relentlessly by the council," noted Robyn Hughes. "Despite RAM's protests, ARC chair Mike Lee has refused to give any leeway to overburdened ratepayers. Yet when it comes to his mates in the Labour government, he supports throwing away $800,000 which should rightly go to ratepayers. There is one law for the Labour Party at the ARC and another completely different law for ratepayers."

"Maori were upset when the Foreshore & Seabed legislation was passed into law. Now every ratepayer in the Auckland region has been deprived of ARC assets without compensation because of this secret decision by a one-vote majority of the ARC."

"I spoke out strongly against this mismanagement of public assets," said Robyn Hughes. "The ARC's ruling clique has attempted to censor public awareness about what I believe is a politically inspired rort on ratepayers by imposing a veil of secrecy over the whole issue. But there is no commercially sensitive reason why this issue should be kept confidential. It's just an attempt at political gagging of councillors like myself who oppose this gift of ratepayers' assets to Labour."

"I call on the ARC's ruling faction to reverse their Wenderholm decision pending the result of widespread public consultation on the issue. We need democratic accountability in the ARC. We need a public consultation process around whether the ARC should be gifting ARC assets to Labour."

ENDS

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