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Backlash against Auckland council

Tuesday November 16th, 2004

Backlash against Auckland council likely to unsettle business and Government alike

Auckland City's business competitiveness under pressure from congestion, is set to take another hit from its city council, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

"The intentions of the Labour-led council under Mr Hucker's control are plainly anti-business," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"The backlash to this carries a political risk for the Government as well, for next year's election.

"Business pays 52 per cent of Auckland city's rates revenue, though business properties number only 15 per cent of the total, but Mr Hucker wants to increase the business rates loading. Business properties currently pay 208 per cent more in rates than residential properties.

"Business is also appalled Mr Hucker wants to back away from user charges for water and the collection of waste by reverting to the use of the rating base to fund these services. Business is happy to pay reasonable user costs for them.

"We are concerned Mr Hucker is not prepared to trust central Government to provide housing for disadvantaged pensioners; in a country of our size especially, this is a role for central government, not for local councils.

"We are disappointed Mayor Hubbard is being sidelined into a figurehead role; if that is inevitable we believe Mr Hubbard nonetheless could take on a statesman role in helping sort out the region's governance issues. This is extremely important.

"We will be urging Mr Hubbard to lead the way toward to a 'one city' Auckland, with a single, regionally elected, local authority to handle all major cross boundary issues.

"The region's four cities and three district councils would ideally be re-formed as locally elected, community councils to provide and rate for local amenities, thereby maintaining 'local' in local government."

ENDS

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