Thursday, July 13, 2006

Small local government will take some hard work

PC has blogged about the Nomorerates.com campaign, and I agree with him. It isn’t a campaign I can wholeheartedly support.
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The only good side is that it promotes restraint in council spending. Something that was going to get worse with councils getting the “power of general competence”, a major change in local government legislation that came about with the Local Government Act 2001 – a Labour/Alliance/Greens concoction. You see before then, all local authorities could only do what legislation empowered them to do, specifically. Regional councils were essentially restricted to emissions under the RMA, public transport contracting and water catchment/pest control – now they can do what they want, subject to “consultation”. Consultation means that they ask you regularly, but you don’t have the time to tell them to “fuck off”. Instead the little lefty lobby groups who claim to represent “the community” agree to any expansion of activities as long as it never involves user pays – because they want to use it for nothing.
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There were warnings at the time. The Business Roundtable through the Local Government Forum said:
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“The proposals contained in the Bill place unwarranted faith in the efficacy of democratic processes at the local level. The activities that councils may engage in should be tightly circumscribed and enumerated in the new act. The deliberate specification of limited powers is a vital constraint on local government. A power of general competence is inconsistent with New Zealand's longstanding constitutional arrangements and the common law, and is a threat to personal and economic freedom.”
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Libertarianz also opposed the Bill. Many of you voted Labour, Alliance or Green, and voted most of them back in again in 2002 and 2005. Many of you voted for councillors and Mayors who are growing their councils. So what are you complaining about?
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The nomorerates.com campaign is supporting Rodney Hide's Rating Cap Bill which is a useful first step, but there needs to be more. Even that Bill wont be supported by the government, which has its local government footsoldiers happily pillaging your pockets for more money every year. Local government is where petty fascists go when they can't get elected to central government.
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However, I am wary of the campaign. For starters this press release seems to claim that user pays for water and sewerage is unfair, because it isn't eligible for a low income rebate.
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Why should you pay for water or sewerage or rubbish collection through tax, instead of the services you use? Why aren’t environmentalists, like the Greens, supporting user pays for waste disposal, such as rubbish and sewerage, and user pays for using reticulated water? Why should you be forced to pay for libraries or swimming pools you don’t use?
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The problem of local government profligacy requires two approaches.
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First, confront local authorities. Prepare submissions opposing their big spending plans and support candidates at the next local body elections who want council to do less. Good luck finding candidates, although Libertarianz did stand a handful of candidates last time. Remember, the left gets enthusiastic (ick) about local government, and the conservative right is often not much better - so it is time to ask candidates what they will CUT from council spending. They will look at you bewildered - since most moaning minnies who go to local government meetings have their hands out for more money, not wanting their own money back.
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Second, change the Local Government Act 2002. I don’t mean tinker with it, I mean constrain local government. This means voting for parties that will cut the size of local authorities, get them out of business and out of social welfare, get them out of providing services that nobody is willing to pay for, and make them start charging user pays for those that people want - then sell them.
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Libertarianz Leader Bernard Darnton announced a first step along that path last year with the party's local government policy:
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"A Libertarianz government would permanently cap all Council rates; require Councils to implement user pays where possible; and divest all activities that can either be provided or maintained by private organisations and individuals. Libertarianz would also scrap the RMA and regional councils"
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That would cut everyone's rates bill by a long margin. Yes, you might have to pay for what you use instead, but do you use everything council provides? And, if you do, why should everyone else pay for you?

2 comments:

CD said...

You've got a broken link Scott: "nomorerates"

libertyscott said...

Ta, I've fixed it.