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Hide’s fundraising rort the first of many?


20 October 2009 
Hide’s fundraising rort the first of many? 

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide’s decision to charge city and regional councillors in Christchurch to attend a breakfast meeting to learn about the future of local government is the first of many according to ACT party sources disgruntled with the influence of the ‘sensible sentencing’ wing of the party, says North Shore City Mayor Andrew Williams. 

“Rodney Hide has embarked on the most sweeping reforms of local government in nearly 20 years with his core services review, and many in the ACT party see this as a windfall for party fundraising by charging local government councillors, officials, community groups and residents for access to the Minister,” Mayor Williams said.

“Rodney Hide told Susan Wood on Newstalk ZB yesterday that local councillors who object to paying the ACT party for access to the Local Government Minister are “a pack of whingers” and that if they don’t want to hear about the future of local government under his reforms they “don’t have to go” to the fundraising event, which is breathtakingly arrogant behaviour for a Minister of the Crown,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Andrew Williams said that Rodney Hide’s audacious plan to gut local government, only revealed to the public through a secret cabinet paper back in June, would reduce local government to the delivery of ‘core services’ such as rubbish collection and filling pot holes, outlaw local council involvement on the “social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes” of their communities, place a cap on rates rises, and require referenda to be held for any “significant” council spending initiatives.

“These sweeping changes to local government are seen as a massive ‘cash-cow’ by the ACT party if they can get away with charging people affected by them for access to their Minister of Local Government, and from what I have been told, the plans are already firming up for a series of such ACT Party fundraising events throughout the country coming off the back of the review changes, which will adversely impact every community,” Mayor Williams said.

“Ratepayers and taxpayers are entitled to meet with Ministers of the Crown without having to put their hands in their pockets for the privilege, and Rodney Hide needs to immediately call a halt to his little fundraising rort and make himself available to local people concerned over his local government changes, free-of-charge.”

“I find it ironic that the man who built his political career as the ‘perk buster’ and taunted other Ministers over the ‘baubles of office’ has decided to use his Ministerial status to rort the public for the financial gain of his political party,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Andrew Williams added that Rodney Hide’s actions are further evidence of the encroachment of party politics into local government, something that has long been rejected by local government voters.
++ ENDS 

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