Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Thursday, September 6, 2007

On Rates and Representation

The Local Government Rates Inquiry coming as it has at the beginning of the election cycle has served us well, even if somewhat long in coming. The recommendations are being received by stakeholders and vested interests with glee. It is a veritable Christmas stocking for them.

However the ratepayer is, and remains the basic source of revenue. And we are rating people out of homes paying for services that are not being delivered, while allocating resources to speculative sports events.

The Internet is bursting with media releases hailing and wailing the implications. At the core of the report is spending. There is too much of it. The public purse is not for the picking it says. And I agree. Uniform General Charges are more equitable. Government should contribute to the required infrastructure via its property holdings.

Transport and Energy and its relationship to climate change and urban design puts Councils at the forefront of strategic future needs planning but this cannot be done alone and in isolation. At the macro planning scale, climate change absent a framework around (quite distinct from policy and actions) infrastructure risk management, water, energy, urban design, transport indeed almost everything local bodies do is ‘put at risk’. No framework, no benchmark. If one cannot measure, one cannot manage.

We need to understand how to contract and converge our carbon budgets locally, nationally and internationally or the rates we do pay will count for diddly. The climate will eat us. (Lloyd’s, AXA and other actuaries report uninsured losses to infrastructure are growing at 7x GDP growth.)

An over consulted public are wrestling with what are the practical actions to these concerns and how we elect and make accountable those who make the decisions that affect us. Rates, like taxes are about representation. To whom you entrust the ‘rate resource’ you rightly expect a duty of care.

Christchurch has fared comparatively well in the rates stakes compared to Auckland. However if voters want to see real equity then it is time to open the debate on Single Transferable Vote.

(Certainly, there has been no evidence any of the other candidates are even aware that STV/FPP will be relitigated under local government rules during this next term)

That way all views arrive at the table. We have to be well informed and participatory. STV will deliver on both these. Then we can really resolve our shared concerns and hold to account on delivery of the core services that rates must deliver.

I am committed to evidence based, equity driven, ethical and efficient decision making.

“Mayor Blair” Anderson 03 3894065

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