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Alex Swney On Wellington Vs. Auckland, Cash-wise

Alex Swney quick to contrast "cash-rich" Wellington with "cash-strapped Auckland", as Government announces gold-plated surplus today

On the eve of New Zealand's local body elections Dr Cullen's "embarrassment of riches" www.stuff.co.nz has prompted Auckland city Mayoral candidate Alex Swney to turn up the volume on his intention to repatriate a share of Wellington's riches to Auckland.

Swney's rates reform policy, which has the backing of international experts*, would see 1% of the GST generated in Auckland returned to city coffers, achieving an urgently needed cash injection to supplement rates.

Swney says New Zealanders are overtaxed and the nation's largest city is grossly under-funded. He says: "Auckland deserves some of Cullen's slush fund to build vital infrastructure before this city's economy, which is pivotal to the health of our national economy, chokes."

"While the Government sloshes around in a surplus of $8.7 billion, Aucklanders suffer unsustainable rates increases, burgeoning debt, increased water charges, development levies and fuel taxes. It just doesn't add up. I identified rates reform as a cornerstone of my campaign. This is an idea whose time has come," he says.

"Over 100 cities in the United States are now building rail systems because they have a share of sales tax revenues. Across the Tasman, the GST generated in New South Wales returns to New South Wales. Same in the other states. We believe we should adopt a similar system to fund cities here," says Swney.

Swney lists the benefits: 1. It would incentivise cities and regions to support and drive their economies more vigorously, which in turn would assist the national economy 2. It would diversify revenues taking the pressure off property rates and keeping them at affordable levels 3. All residents and visitors who use city amenities would contribute, not just ratepayers 4. Funding increases would correlate with growth 5. It would share taxes more equitably between central and local government

Swney advocates 11.5% of GST going to central government and 1% staying with local and / or regional councils, meaning the total GST burden for the country would remain the same at 12.5%. Using government estimates, 1% of GST would total $680 million in extra funding annually for councils throughout New Zealand, with over $200 million annually for the Auckland region, calculated on a population basis.

Swney emphasises that his recommendation does not represent a tax increase.

Swney says: "The extra $200 million from a 1% share of GST would allow Auckland to develop new economic and environmental infrastructure including stormwater quality improvements to protect our harbours, improved public transport, an international convention centre, proper cruise ship facilities, new tourism initiatives and a spectacular waterfront for us all to enjoy, for example." ends


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