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Local Government Bill Fundamentally Flawed

27 March 2002

Federated Farmers is angry that Government has passed the Local Government (Rating) Bill without first assessing its fundamental relationship with the Local Government Bill currently at Select Committee.

In his submission to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee today Federated Farmers Vice President Tom Lambie said the Local Government Bill should not proceed until an integrated, independent, first principle study of local government's role and funding is undertaken.

Mr Lambie told the Committee that the Federation opposes the Local Government Bill proceeding because it allows for fundamental changes to the powers and activities of local government without considering how they will be funded.

"In a recent letter (attached) to the Local Government forum, the Minister of Local Government claims that the review of rating legislation is essentially technical in nature. The Minister

"This Local Government Bill potentially allows local authorities to expand into "modern" activities but funded by a 17th century tax on land.

"Farmers are terrified by the prospect of expanding local government activities at significant cost to them as individuals, but even more terrifying is the fact the Minister does not recognise the fundamental flaws in the legislation.

"There is a severe tension between the expanded governance role envisioned for local authorities in this Bill and the manner in which local authorities fund their expenditure. Farm businesses already bear a disproportionate rates load resulting in a substantial diversion of funds away from investment in their business.

"The Federation submits on up to 40 annual plans annually but frequently we find that current local government accountability regimes of consultation, presentation and participation in the annual planning and long term financial strategies are little more than an exercise in obfuscation and public relations rhetoric."

The Local Government Forum comprises Federated Farmers, the NZ Business roundtable, The NZ Forest Owners Association, Business NZ and the NZ Property Council.

ENDS

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