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Local Government, Local Democracy

19 August 2005

Local Government, Local Democracy

New Zealand First has three major priorities in its local government policy which will ensure the best returns for ratepayer and taxpayer money.

Speaking at the Zone 2 Local Government Conference in Rotorua yesterday, New Zealand First spokesperson Jim Peters said that while we should have world-class provision of core local government services, there is a need for limits on non-core activities which add to the rates burden.

“Our first priority is to conduct a nation-wide study into the inter-relationship between regional and local councils and community boards, exploring both their functions and relevance in 2005/06, and the feasibility of merging some local body entities in the interests of getting better value for money for ratepayers,” said Mr Peters.

“Secondly, the increased layers of bureaucracy which have been imposed by the present government, with the attendant compliance costs on ratepayers, should be reviewed by the incoming administration.

“There needs to be a clear separation between local government responsibility and the everyday business of government. A situation such as in that in the Far North where people can’t afford to pay their water rates should be a Ministry of Social Development matter rather than a further subsidy on ratepayers.

“Thirdly, a key priority is to review the present nature of local authority funding, including GST on rates and the proportion of rates spent on roading. Current Transit projections for major roading development seem strongly dependent on tolling. New Zealand First believes that all roading tax should be spent on roading.

“New Zealand First believes the time has arrived to ask the very serious questions of why do we rate, on whom and who benefits from these rates,” said Mr Peters.

ENDS

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