LGA Review Consultation Is A Sham!
24 July 2001
The Local Government Act Review consultation process has left the majority of rural ratepayers out in the cold according to Federated Farmers President, Alistair Polson.
"The Review proposes giving Council's the power of General Competence. In other words they can do whatever they like as long as they consult" Mr Polson said. "I hope Council's will not follow Government's lead and only consult with their urban constituents."
"Giving councils the power of 'general competence' will allow them to spend money on income redistribution projects like building hospitals or schools. Projects normally paid for from income tax. Councils limited in their use of the uniform annual charge by the Rating Powers Act will be forced to raise revenue from land-based rates," said Mr Polson.
There are 74 district councils and twelve regional councils in New Zealand. Farms are included in the rating base of all the regional councils, and approximately 65 (88%) of the district councils.
There are fourteen consultation meetings on the LGA review scheduled in: Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Rotorua, Hastings, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson, Greymouth, Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill.
There are 15 Hui scheduled for Maori, 8 'Fono' for Pacific Islands people, and 3 meetings for ethnic communities.
"There are very few, if any farms within the boundaries of the Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin Councils," said Mr Polson. "In reality farmers only have access to 8 meetings that could be described as provincial, yet pay rates in 65 districts."
"North and South Waikato, the Wairarapa, King Country, and South Canterbury have been left out completely. The government seems to be saying it wants to make sure it hears from some groups but not others."
"Rural rate payers are already paying more than their share. The promise of consultation is no protection given the relative size of the urban and rural vote. We know it is easy for the majority to demand a service when someone else is paying for it."