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Chamber challenges candidates on policies

Media Release
Embargoed Friday 6.00am 2 August 2013

Chamber challenges candidates on policies

Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce today issued policies it believes people standing for council in the local body elections need to adopt if they want to help grow the region’s economy.

The manifesto, entitled ‘Driving Wellington Forward’, is applicable to all councils in the region but is focused on Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Chief Executive Raewyn Bleakley says the recommendations in the manifesto are vital to the future of the city and the region.

“These are the areas which we consider are best able to drive Wellington forward.

“They are the bare minimum of what we need.

“We are not asking the impossible. We have restricted it to things the city and the region need to get ahead and which we believe councils can actually deliver. It’s not a vision of where we think Wellington needs to change. That’s for another time.”

‘Driving Wellington Forward’ discusses eight areas in which the Chamber believes the council can deliver, and makes recommendations in each. They include:

Spending - Incoming councils must urgently undertake a review of all spending programmes with a view to finding efficiencies and reducing the overall council footprint and rates take. There should be a rates freeze until this has occurred. Spending targets should be set so expenditure does not exceed the combined rate of inflation and population growth per year. Councils must cease activities that fall outside core business. 

Rating policy – Councils must adjust rating policies to ensure costs better lie where they fall and move towards user pays and targeted rates in place of general rates. Wellington City Council should renew the phase-down of its rating differential. Councils must be more transparent in how their rates are determined.

Amalgamation – All incoming councils in the region should commit to a single council for the region.

Economic development – Councils should concentrate on economic infrastructure and reducing barriers to business, and economic development agencies should focus more on economic development and less on working with individual businesses.

Being business friendly – Councils must work towards developing a business-friendly culture internally. Initiatives must aim to make Wellington an easy and appealing place to live and do business.

Asset ownership and trading activities – Councils should look at divesting some of their assets and investments, and reinvesting the proceeds in improved infrastructure. There should be a debate about whether they keep their stakes in the airport, the port, and rail rolling stock.

Transport infrastructure – The role of urban commuter trains versus buses needs to be reviewed.

Local government democracy – There needs to be a review of the local government electoral system, covering issues such as multiple candidacies, single transferable voting, and direct election of regional council chairs.

Raewyn Bleakley says none of what the Chamber is advocating is too hard.

“It’s basic stuff. If people standing for council are of a mind to get this region really moving – and they should be, otherwise they shouldn’t be standing – then they will adopt these recommendations.

“If, after October, councils were to adopt all these recommendations then things would be moving in no time and there would be no more talk of the city and the region dying or struggling along.

“They are all achievable.

“The Chamber is non-partisan. It doesn’t support any particular candidates or political parties, but it does support policies that enable businesses to flourish and which promote the interests of our economy.

“The purpose of this manifesto is to outline what we think these policies should be.  We hope that successful candidates and new councils will adopt them as much as possible.

“The Chamber intends to assess candidates’ policies and compare them with these policies.

“To move Wellington forward, local government must be actively pro-business. Councils cannot run the business sector, but they can put a framework in place that supports business and removes barriers to its success.”

Click here to access the Manifesto in full.


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