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Government Should Legislate For COVID-related Rates Freezes

The Government needs to step in to help households and businesses struggling with day to day costs by legislating for a rates freeze across all local authorities, says Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross.

Mr Ross questioned Finance Minister Grant Robertson in Parliament today on rates freezes.

"The Government is in the middle of passing urgent legislation on many COVID-19 related matters to ease the burden on New Zealanders during this pandemic", says Mr Ross.

"The annual burden of rates levies by local authorities will soon add to increased costs to households and businesses as councils around the country signal their continued plan to increase rates.

"Government needs to step in and add to its list of legislative changes a rates freeze to ensure Kiwis are saved from having to dip further into their pockets to cover these hikes.

"The Finance Minister's refusal to consider rates freezes is disappointing.

"Leaving it to councils to make these decisions ignores the legislative problem councils face where consultation requirements will be used as an easy excuse to box on with rates increases.

"At no time in recent history have ratepayers needed more relief from annual rates increases than now.

"Just as most other entities are going through the process of reassessing costs within their organisations, local authorities also need to review how they finance and debt-fund essential work.

"Organisations like the Property Council and Taxpayers Union have made similar calls for rates freezes, backed up by a petition signed by thousands.

"In the next two parliamentary sitting weeks the Government should move to require councils to implement rates freezes.

"It's an easy, half page, legislative fix that will give certainty to ratepayers.

"Local government are a creature of statute so the Parliament should lead the way on rates freezes."

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