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Wake Up Westies!


Wake Up Westies!

"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.

Proposed in Manukau City from mid-2007:

- Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) up from $300 to $318

The largest company pays exactly the same as a family.

- Rubbish flat charge from $160 to $170

- 'Mainstreet' business targeted rates up $250,000 to $687,600

Spent only on business' own area improvements, not on Council services for the whole community

- Manukau Water says user charges, and flat wastewater charge $320, will rise on July 1

A 'conservation' price increase: businesses bought less water, so residents must pay more

- More user charges are on the agenda. Don't be conned.

Poor Auckland City families pay more to MetroWater than for 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!"

Local Council Meetings - public forum/delegations on request at all meetings:

Manukau City Council at www.manukau.govt.nz 5pm, last Thurs of each month

MCC Strategic Directions Committee (on Strengthening Ak Regional Governance) - 6pm, third Tues of the month

Auckland Regional Council at http://www.arc.govt.nz/ 6pm - Mon April 30, May 28 etc

Council draft Annual Plan submissions, including Ak regional governance:

Manukau City: Open now, close 4.45pm, April 20. Oral submissions, April 30-May 4

ARC: Submissions open now, close 4pm, April 24. Oral, late May/early June

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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