Local Government NZ’s manifesto asks the right questions
16 September, 2020
Local Government New Zealand is spot on when it says that all political parties’ policies should be assessed on how well they provide for local voices to be heard and taken into account, Federated Farmers says.
“We agree that central government policy and legislation must be able to be tailored for the differing needs, circumstances, capacity and capability of local communities,” Feds national board member Chris Allen says.
Federated Farmers also agrees with the assertion in the LGNZ manifesto released today that successive governments have placed too much weight on the use of top-down, one-size-fits all solutions.
“That’s certainly evident in the new freshwater regulations and the National Environment Standards for forestry, with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Environment Minister David Parker respectively now admitting that the ability to apply regional variations are useful,” Chris says.
It’s also legitimate when formulating any policy to ask whether an issue is a role for central or local government, or indeed whether it is a role for government at all (be it central, regional or local). The quality of associated spending and how it is funded is critical, especially when councils are overly reliant on an archaic property value-based rating system.
For these reasons farmers understandably want councils to focus on the basics and doing the basics efficiently and effectively, Chris says.
“It’s also important that central government doesn’t push costs that should be borne at the national level by taxpayers or levy payers onto ratepayers.
“LGNZ raises the important role that central government has to funnel more of the revenue collected from motorists and taxpayers into paying more for local roads – particularly in rural areas where roads have been deteriorating and bridges are reaching the end of their economic life.”
As local and regional economies struggle from a downturn in income due to COVID-19 the last thing their communities and ratepayers need is political parties seeking to impose extra unnecessary costs or regulatory requirements on councils, their businesses and/or their communities. Voters should be asking tough questions about how extra cost burdens will be paid back.
These are all good topics that candidates should be addressing out on the campaign trail, Chris says.