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Hide Hopeful For NZ First On Rates Bill

Hide Hopeful For NZ First On Rates Bill

Rodney Hide Monday, 21 August 2006 Press Releases - Local Government


ACT Leader Rodney Hide says he is ever hopeful that New Zealand First will change their mind and support his Local Government (Rating Cap) Amendment Bill, today writing to Winston Peters and New Zealand First MPs asking them to let the public have their say on local body rates.

"We have an immediate opportunity to let the public debate local government funding, but only with New Zealand First's support", Mr Hide said.

"New Zealand First's key objection to my Bill seems to be that it does not address alternatives for replacing rates based on land value.

"I have written to Mr Peters pointing out that a Select Committee would be able to consider submissions presenting alternatives for funding.

"A Commission of Inquiry - which New Zealand First prefers - might help, but it is not before Parliament at the moment.

"By sending the Bill to Select Committee on Wednesday, the public and local government would be given an opportunity to tell us their views.

"Members of Parliament should be bigger than party politics, and work together to do the best thing for Kiwi families.

"Mr Peters saw merit in capping rates when he voted for my identical Bill in 2004. I have asked him to vote on that merit, rather than with a government which doesn't want this Bill to proceed.

"Mr Peters should stand up for democracy and let the people of New Zealand have their say, by sending my Bill to Select Committee", Mr Hide said.

Letter Follows

Rt Hon Winston Peters Leader, New Zealand First Parliament Buildings Wellington

Dear Mr Peters

Like all MPs, I know you share the concerns of those who struggle to make ends meet. Many of these are older New Zealanders, who have worked hard all their lives, and now deserve to enjoy security in their retirement.

It is because you care that I am writing to ask that you and your party send my Local Government (Rating Cap) Amendment Bill to Select Committee, when it comes back before Parliament this Wednesday.

New Zealand First's concern

Along with press statements from your Caucus colleagues, letters and emails forwarded to me voice New Zealand First's support for the broad purpose of my Bill - to prevent local authorities from continuing an unsustainable cycle of rates increases.

However, you seem to have one remaining major concern about my Bill - that you would like to investigate alternative forms of funding for local government - which I would like to address here, openly and publicly.

I agree with New Zealand First's concern that charging rates on the basis of property value alone is unfair, and that it leads to undue pressure upon pensioners and others on fixed incomes. I do not believe that any government is important enough to push people out of their family homes.

As you have pointed out, my Bill does not tackle this directly, because Members Bills are restricted to addressing one issue at a time. However, alternative ways of raising revenue are at the heart of debate on local government, and a Select Committee would be able to consider submissions which - I'm sure - would present a range of alternative funding options.

I would like to give the public a chance to have that input now, rather than make people face another year - and another crippling rates round - waiting for an opportunity to have their say to Parliament.

Let ratepayers have their say now

You have suggested that a Commission of Inquiry into the funding of local government would be more useful. While a larger inquiry could help, it would be costly, time consuming and - most importantly - it is not before parliament at the moment.

Mr Peters, ratepayers are feeling the pain of rates hikes now. We have an immediate opportunity to debate the funding of local government, through the Select Committee process - but only with your support.

I note that New Zealand First supported an identical Bill in 2004. Then, you saw merit in this idea, and I ask that you vote on that merit, rather than with a government which doesn't want this Bill to proceed.

I do not pretend that my Bill has all the answers, but sending it to a Select Committee would provide a chance for the public to have their say to Parliament. We both agree that funding of local government needs to change. I ask you and your colleagues in New Zealand First to support me on Wednesday, and give the public a chance to make submissions sooner, rather than later.

We have had our differences in the past, but Members of Parliament should be bigger than party politics, and work together to do the best thing for Kiwi families.

The decision on whether ratepayers will have to face another round of rates hikes next year falls to you and your colleagues. I ask you to give my proposal serious consideration and, once again, to put New Zealanders First.

Kind regards

Rodney Hide MP Leader, ACT New Zealand

ENDS

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