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Carter scores own goal with local government claim

Carter scores own goal with local government claims

The Minister of Local Government Mark Burton says National MP John Carter has scored an own-goal with his claim that 67 pieces of legislation have had an impact on rates.

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The Minister of Local Government Mark Burton says National MP John Carter has scored an own-goal with his claim that 67 pieces of legislation have had an impact on rates.

"Initial analysis shows 28 of the pieces of legislation were specifically requested in whole or in part by the local government sector," Mr Burton said.

"A further 26 do not appear to impose any costs on local government, and a number of others were in direct response to public concerns around issues such as leaky buildings and attacks by dangerous dogs.

"The public expects legislation to ensure minimum standards in areas like building inspections, food hygiene and dog control. These costs are recoverable from the actual businesses or individuals who use the services, and are not therefore costs to be covered by general rating through councils.

"Mr Carter either has no knowledge of his own portfolio responsibilities and developments in the local government sector, or is being deliberately misleading. Either way, he is insulting the intelligence of the public with his outlandish and poorly-informed claims.

"The issue of affordability of rates is taken seriously by central government. The extension of the Rates Rebate Scheme is a very significant initiative for many low-income households. Up to 300,000 households will benefit, with the maximum rebate rising to $500 per annum.

"In addition, central government assistance has been the fastest growing source of funding for local government over the period 1999 - 2005. In the year to June 2005 local government received $585.6 million in assistance. That does not include announcements made in the 2005 and 2006 Budgets with respect to drinking water and transport funding.

"In some instances, rates increases are the result of councils failing to make proper provision for infrastructural renewal in the past, and deferring maintenance on community assets.

"We have invested a tremendous amount into local government through transport subsidies; drinking water subsidies; sewerage subsidies; tourism facilities infrastructure subsidies; and spending after adverse events.

"Central government is committed to working in good faith alongside local government on funding issues, and there have already been 11 central/local government forums over the past 6½ years. A joint working group was established through these forums to work in funding issues and will be reporting to the next forum scheduled for September," Mr Burton said.


ENDS

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