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Government, Councils Run for Cover

Government, Councils Run for Cover

A new campaign highlighting the unfair rates burden on farmers has been so successful that it has shamed local and central government in to silence, said Charlie Pedersen, Vice President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

The 10K Rates Club was set up last week to show that more and more farmers are paying large rates bills which far exceed the services offered to them by councils. The club is for farmers unhappy about being lumbered annually with more than $10,000 in general rates.

"The club was swamped with members at Mystery Creek Fieldays and generated much media coverage. We have tapped a well of deep concern," Mr Pedersen said.

"But has anyone heard Local Government Minister Chris Carter trying to defend laws governing local authority rating? No. Has anyone heard any sensible justification from local councils on why councils rate farmers higher than any other group. No.

"The only conclusion is the facts are so overwhelming that both local and central government have been shamed to silence," Mr Pedersen said.

"Lowering the cone of silence shows that central and local government are not interested in fixing the damage caused by flawed rating policies," he said.

"The present system based on land values isn't working. It fails farmers and many other ratepayers, including pensioners living in sought-after areas, new home buyers with a large mortgage, and rate payers on low incomes.

"The land these people own doesn't use council services, people do, and local government should be funded accordingly."

Mr Pedersen officially launched the club on June 17 at National Agricultural Fieldays. Members each receive official club mugs emblazoned with the club's motto 'I'm A Rates Mug'.

"During Mystery Creek we signed up 67 farmers who are rates mugs paying a total of $1,149,509 in rates, or an average of $17,200 each," he said.

Federated Farmers wants changes to the way local government sets its rating policies. The review must encompass the limits placed on councils by the Local Government Rating Act 2002.

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