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Hands off what's left!

Hands off what's left!

"Councils and government changes are driven by big business to further impoverish workers," said Meredydd Barrar, of Citizens Against Privatisation (CAP), in Auckland's west.

Citizens Against Privatisation have organised a public meeting, Wake up Westies!, to launch a mass campaign against flat and user charges, restructuring of Auckland regional governance, the Rates Inquiry and road tolls:

Public Meeting 7pm, Tues April 17, Kelston Community Centre, cnr Great North/Awaroa Rds, Waitakere City Endorsed by Grey Power, NZEI Primary Teachers' Union, NDU, Maritime Union, UNITE (Waitemata)

"Restructuring of Auckland regional governance means less democracy, more corporate power, so the working class pays. It means even more privatisation/corporatisation - of essential services like water and libraries," Mr Barrar said. "At very least, water and wastewater prices would rocket because the eight Auckland Councils agree that Watercare profits should fund stormwater."

"Most people don't realise," Mered Barrar said, "that Auckland Councils are consulting, now, as part of draft Annual Plans, on proposals to restructure the Auckland Councils from Franklin to Rodney, including the ARC, but are providing no finalised facts, no implications, no costings."

Mered Barrar said, "With or without legislation for this restructuring before October elections, START, a linchpin of the proposals, is now open for consultation as the Longterm Sustainability Framework for the whole region. The ARC is working to integrate this with the Regional Growth Strategy, Regional Land Transport Strategy, Auckland Transport Strategic Alignment Project, Auckland Economic Development Strategy - and the anti-worker Metro Project Action Plan."

"Unfortunately for ordinary people," said Mr Barrar, "START not only chants the same Single Voice mantras as Councils' super city plans, but it's explicit in relentless market-speak for “greater association between the user and the payer”. We understand all too well."

The public meeting opens with a new audio-visual Power Point CD, put together by CAP, on these interconnected issues - the non-copyright CDs are available on request for a donation.

Mered Barrar said, "Flat and user charges are already 80% or more of total rates on low-value homes, so working people and pensioners pay while the rich save. More increases are on the way across the Auckland region." "But what families are repaid GST, and claim rates or rent as tax expenses, as companies do?" he asks.

All Councils' rates are rising as usual more than inflation, but such huge flat/user charges hit the majority poor, says Mered Barrar.

Proposed, from Franklin to Rodney (all include GST), mid-2007: - Franklin has no uniform annual general charge (UAGC), but many flat charges depending where you live, eg for some Community Boards, this year $15-$25; for Community Centres, 06-07, $22-$56; recycling, this year $35, rubbish collection 06-07, $12-$180, or $1.80 user charge stickers; wastewater flat charge up to $790, or $410, rising July 07 - $435, and water per cubic metre up from $1.80 to $1.90. - total flat charges 07-08 at least $520

- Papakura, privatised United Water user charges for water/ wastewater, user pays rubbish bags and UAGC, this year, $320, likely to rise to $350. (The biggest company pays exactly the same UAGC as a family. Further automatic reduction 07-08 in business' share of rates - by decrease in business differential.) - total flat charges 07-08 at least $350

- Manukau, UAGC up from $300 to $318, rubbish flat charge up, to $170, commercialised Manukau Water user charges for water and flat wastewater charge $320 will rise July 1. ('Conservation' price increase: businesses bought less water, so residents must pay more.) - total flat charges 07-08 at least $808

- Auckland, rubbish flat charge to $199 from $168 - (for expensive inferior recycling), UAGC stays $95, MetroWater wastewater and water user charges, plus flat $60 water. (ACC wants $18m from MetroWater, 07-08, plus $3m incl GST to shift from business rates onto household rates - was $2.8m incl GST, 06-07.) - total flat charges 07-08 at least $354

- Waitakere, UAGC up from $600 to $640, user pays rubbish bags increase, flat wastewater from $350 to $378 (But businesses still pay for wastewater on rateable value. 3-step residential differential means low-value home owners pay at double the rateable value of high- value property owners.) - total flat charges 07-08 at least $1018

- North Shore, UAGC up from $646 to $691, rubbish stays $27, flat wastewater charge for now $396 per household and per business or per toilet pan for business. (But also per toilet pan for schools - from their Operations Grant. Best-for-the-rest-of-us business differentials in the region: x 7.4 - are clawed back by these flat charges. Wastewater user charges and residential/rural differentials only postponed till next year. Don't be conned. Poor Auckland City families pay more to MetroWater than for rates - total flat charges 07-08 at least $1115

- Rodney, no UAGC, but huge flat charges for different areas, eg Civic Amenities - Hibiscus Coast (H. Coast) - up $41 to $458, Rural and Townships (R&T) up $31 to $450; Democracy & Development - H. Coast down $12 to $102, R&T up $2 to $117; water user charges, and flat water charge - H. Coast down $20 to $60, R&T up $117 to $294; wastewater flat charge - H. Coast up $22 to $573, R&T up $78 to $798. $573 or $798 is also the per pan tax on schools in these areas. - total flat charges 07-08 at least $1193, Hibiscus Coast; at least $1659, Rural and Townships

- Auckland Regional Council (ARC) has no user or flat charges but its business differentials, lowest in the region at x 1.6 - compared with North Shore x 7.4 - clobber households with what should be business' share of the rates.

The Rates Inquiry panel was invited to front up to working people at this meeting. "The Rates Inquiry wants to make this even worse," said Mr Barrar, "further hitting struggling families, pensioners and schools. It's looking for alternatives to rates – from road tolls/ pricing to poll taxes – but as this shows, Councils have already found them."

CAP says, "Demand the best rating system for the working class majority - no flat or user charges. Undo privatisation and franchising, commercialisation and contracting- out of Council services. Increase rates for big business and the rich, so they do pay their share. Submissions, delegations, marches and pickets will be discussed and organised."

Citizens Against Privatisation says, "Hands off what's left!"

Check out now: - Council and Council Committee Meetings - public forum/delegations on request at all meetings - Councils' draft Annual Plan submissions, all include Auckland regional governance proposals - Rates Inquiry at www.ratesinquiry.govt.nz Submissions open now, close 4pm, April 30 - Draft Longterm Sustainability Framework (START): Submissions open now, close April 30 8 Auckland Councils + 4 Government Ministries at: www.sustainingauckland.org.nz


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