C&R Say No To Paying Bills At NZ Post
City Vision-Labour Councillors - Auckland City Council
For Immediate Release
Thursday 19 March 2009
C&R Say No To Paying Bills ‘Over The Counter’ At NZ Post
After a spirited debate at Auckland City Council’s Finance and Strategy Committee yesterday, the Citizens & Ratepayers (C&R) majority of councillors voted down an amendment by City Vision Councillor Cathy Casey to continue investigating adding 40 NZ Postshops to the 21 current ‘over the counter’ locations for the payment of council bills.
Councillor Casey says that adding the 40 NZ Postshops would have benefited poorer families in the city that have no internet access.
“There is a drive by this new Council to get everyone to pay their council bills online. That ignores the ‘digital divide’, where wealthier households have the money to invest in a home computer with an internet connection and poorer families do not. It is also the choice of many - including many older people - to take a walk to do their shopping and pay their bills”
Councillor Richard Northey said: “C&R Councillors cold-heartedly rejected the evidence that almost half of residents in lower income wards do not have internet access, and that the current monopoly provider of account paying services, Westpac, has much fewer outlets than NZ Post. There are no Westpac branches in the Gulf Islands, only one in Mt Roskill and only two each in Maungakiekie and Avondale! Council yesterday had the chance to give all its residents an easily accessible service and C&R chose to reject it.”
Councillor Leila Boyle said: “Council received a number of submissions on last year’s Annual Plan from my Tamaki Community Board area asking to be able to pay council bills at Postshops - where they regularly pay their other bills. The negative votes from C&R councillors (including Councillor Sam Lotu-Iiga who unusually was actually present at a Council meeting!) show they do not care about the needs and wishes of those living in lower income wards furthest from Council’s central city offices and who do not have internet access.”
Denise Roche, councillor for the Hauraki Gulf Islands said, “Council has an arrangement with Westpac Bank for ‘over the counter’ payments which is great in some parts of the city but hopeless on Waiheke or Great Barrier Islands where there are no branches! Most people here go to the post office to pay their bills. And even if you have a computer, internet access on Great Barrier is difficult at the best of times so paying council bills that way is even trickier.”