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Bring On A Referendum For One City Auckland Now

The one city council proposal for Auckland has widespread popular support amongst the business community, but support for a new tax to fund Auckland depends on what the money would be eartagged for, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

"The earlier we can have the referendum for a single council for Auckland that Mayor Fletcher has suggested, the better," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive. "Our sample survey of business members indicated the proposal has overwhelming support.

"But as well as offering options for how the administration of Auckland should be configured, a referendum must also spell out how local democracy issues are to be addressed.

"It must say how local communities will retain access to decision making. We suggest that a clustering of community board structures would address the issue.

"Sir Geoffrey Palmer has suggested a chunk of central government tax has to be reserved and directed to meet Auckland's infrastructure shortfall. Or a new tax, such as a regional GST tax, is needed as well as property taxes to rebuild Auckland's infrastructure.

"In effect he said Auckland is being short changed by the Government.

"Before business would accept any new tax we would need to know if less reliance were to be placed on rates. Business would need to be assured that user pays charges were to apply to things like water, sewage, and rubbish collection.

"In addition, it should not be assumed only councils should be able to build and own infrastructure services.

"While issues such as who pays what are critically important, they could be equitably addressed and should not defer the establishment of a single council for Auckland."


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