### Mayoral News Release 12 June 2009
News and opinion from North Shore City’s Mayor Andrew Williams
By Andrew Williams
Hide shoots himself in the foot over council ‘core services’, says North Shore Mayor
Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has shot himself in the foot, with his own gun, over his latest plan to smash local government and limit it to providing basic ‘core services’ such as roads and rubbish collection, North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said today.
“Rodney Hide wants to outlaw council involvement in “social, economic, environmental, and cultural community outcomes” in favour of a narrow focus on the “core activities” of transport services, water services, and public health and safety services, arguing that local councils should not provide “services that benefit a limited number of people but for which the whole community is required to pay” because the “beneficiaries of the service “free ride” on other ratepayers.”
“Yet only back in August last year, speaking in Parliament on the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Bill, which he and his party voted for, Hide argued strongly in favour of long term council funding of the Auckland Observatory and Planetarium, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, the Auckland Theatre Company, the New Zealand National Maritime Museum, the Zoo, the Coastguard Northern Region, the Opera New Zealand, the Surf Life Saving Northern Region, the Auckland Festival Trust, and WaterSafe Auckland.”
“Rodney Hide went on to tell Parliament that the only fair way to fund these organisations is to “tax and rate” the people of greater Auckland to pay for them. And he actually had the gall to challenge those who did not support long term council funding of these public amenities and organisations to name which ones they would close. We could ask the same question of Rodney Hide today, not that we are likely to get a straight answer from him.”
“Rodney Hide’s hypocrisy on the issue of council core services is simply breathtaking. Ten months ago, he was firmly behind council funding of the Opera, the Maritime Museum, the Theatre Company, the Planetarium, and all the rest that he listed in Parliament, yet now, he says they “free ride” on the backs of ratepayers and ratepayers should not be forced to pay for them.”
“Prime Minister John Key is very sensibly distancing himself from Hide’s crazy plan to gut local government services, saying councils “are quite clearly involved in the delivery of social policy and quite a wide range of things” and that he expected councils to “continue to have quite wide responsibilities” for the wellbeing of their communities.”
“With his credibility over council core services now shot to pieces, and with the ‘super city’ plan he is ramming down our throats falling apart piece by piece, day by day, perhaps the message might start to sink in that 97 percent of New Zealanders did not vote for his extremist ACT policies and that they do not accept his ‘bully boy’ bulldozer tactics, and that he should abandon this foolish review and drop the rest of his crazy ACT plans for local government,” Mayor Williams said.
Mayor Williams also expressed disbelief that Rodney Hide would so easily abandon the very people he praised so highly back in August for their invaluable support for their communities.
“Rodney Hide praised to the rafters “the unsung work of people who support organisations that we all enjoy and that we all benefit from, and I do not think that those people get sufficient recognition. I would like to place that on record, on behalf of the whole House, because we all live in communities where people give up their time and make sacrifices for the things we enjoy.”
“Yet here is Rodney Hide today, rubbing the noses of these very people he was praising in the dirt, saying that the community organisations they work so hard to support are ‘freeloaders’ on the ratepayers and unworthy of ratepayer funding. He should be ashamed of himself,” Mayor Williams said.
Mayor Williams noted that a survey of North Shore ratepayers undertaken in late 2007 to test public support for council funding of regional amenities found that only a small percentage were opposed, with the highest being 13.68 percent opposed to funding the Auckland Theatre Company and the lowest being 9.12 percent opposed to funding the Zoo, showing that Rodney Hide is well out of step with public opinion on this issue.
Hansard; Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Bill; 27 August 2008
Rodney Hide MP: “I ask people who object to this bill to ask themselves what it is they want to close. Is it the Auckland Observatory and Planetarium, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, the Auckland Theatre Company, the New Zealand National Maritime Museum, the Coastguard Northern Region, the Opera New Zealand, or perhaps the Surf Life Saving Northern Region? Perhaps it is the Auckland Festival Trust, or WaterSafe Auckland. They are the organisations that are to be funded by this bill.”
Rodney Hide MP: “I will close by saying that it is good to see that we have such agreement in this House—and the bit of disagreement that we have will not be here after the election [NZ First], so it will not be a problem. I would like to thank the many, many people who have worked for many, many years to get this bill here. That work is the unsung work of people who support organisations that we all enjoy and that we all benefit from, and I do not think that those people get sufficient recognition. I would like to place that on record, on behalf of the whole House, because we all live in communities where people give up their time and make sacrifices for the things we enjoy.”
Cabinet Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee; EGI (09) 44; 6 April 2009
Hon Rodney Hide, Minister of Local Government: While there is no formal definition of core services for local government, I would expect there to be general acceptance that it includes transport services (roading, footpaths, and public transport), water services (water supply, sewage treatment, stormwater and flood protection) and public health and safety services (refuse collection and regulation of nuisances).
Hon Rodney Hide, Minister of Local Government: Councils can be pressured to expand their services by providing services that benefit a limited number of people but for which the whole community is required to pay. This raises equity issues as some beneficiaries of the service “free ride” on other ratepayers. This leads to the principle that costs should be distributed as closely as possible to benefits received.
Andrew Williams, JP | Mayor of North Shore
Tel 09-4868687 Fax 09-4868445 Web http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz
North Shore City Council
1 The Strand, Takapuna
Private Bag 93500, Takapuna,
North Shore City, New Zealand