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Budget Disappoints On Local Government

19 May 2005

Budget Disappoints On Local Government

An opportunity to address fundamental flaws in local government has been missed in this year's Budget, said Don Nicolson, Chair of the Local Government Forum, a pan-industry group representing business organisations with a strong interest in local government policy.

"Large increases in taxpayer support such as the expanded rates rebates scheme and the fund to help councils implement new drinking water standards are desperate efforts to patch up a flawed system," said Mr Nicolson.

"Instead of pumping more and more taxpayer money to prop up local government and perpetuate the status quo, councils should be encouraged to focus more on their core business.

"That would help contain spending and therefore the demands on the ratepayer.

"A meaningful, independent review of funding of local government is also required to remove rating anomalies - but not to give councils clever new ways to extract yet more revenue.

"One of the few checks on councils is that ratepayers can and do get angry and demand change either through the annual plan submissions or the ballot box. By increasing the rebates there will be less motivation for many residential ratepayers to demand change when they no longer bear the full cost of rates.

"Increasing the rates rebates will simply weaken accountability and lead to yet more apathy in the affairs of local government," concluded Mr Nicolson.


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