Speech notes by Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer
Act Party 2013 Conference, Gibbs Farm, Kaukapakapa
Saturday, 23 February 2013
Ratepayers yet to see the real promise of one city
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
Former Act leader and Minister of Local Government, Hon Rodney Hide, did a great jobamalgamating the eight former regional, city and district councils into one unitary authority, Auckland Council. The architecture has proven to be sound with no serious legislativechanges mooted.
Today however I will argue that while the architecture of the Super City remains sound,benefits for ratepayers that should have been delivered have yet to be delivered by the local
body politicians. The public of Auckland was told that it wasn’t necessarily go
ing to be anycheaper, but one council would be better on their back-pockets now and in the future.
Nearly two and a half years into the Len Brown centre-left inaugural council, most ratepayerswould argue their back-pockets have yet to see any benefits. But when you consider the
personalities involved that’s not surprising.
Only a few years ago the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor were adamantly opposed toamalgamation. They were matching in the streets against the prospect of Auckland Council.
In essence the Mayor will never be interested in driving and delivering on all the
amalgamation’s financial promise and potential, because he never wanted it in the first
place. What drives him is community development and pulling the once disparate areas of Auckland together and on that front he has done well.
But let’s not forget the primary drivers of this amalgamation were economic. So how are we
In the current financial year, over half of Auckland households are paying an average of 8.1% more in rates than last year, and the news gets no better in the coming financial year for wards like mine. In the ward of Orakei 67% of households are up for another 5
rates increase from July. The Left’s low Uniform Annual General Charge is not helping.
Like 133,000 other households, I am paying the full 10% cap this year and will again next
year, and the following. That’s because my rates went up 32.4%, with the increase split over three years. So while I’m paying 10% more in Ellerslie after municipal amalgamation, the
average Christchurch resident is paying 7.8% more after their massive earthquakes. Gofigure!
Mayor Brown is going around telling everyone that the average regional rates increase for
2013/14 will be 2.9% but that’s not how it will be felt by many, particul
arly on the Aucklandisthmus.
In fact the old Auckland City Council area will also have to get used to user-pays rubbish inthe next couple of years, not to mention ongoing regulatory fee increases. Then we have theprospect of tolling the existing motorway network and/or a regional petrol tax, as well as theplan to ban all open fireplaces, but I digress.