Goff Promises More Local Power


Labour today promised if government to change the law to guarantee Auckland local boards “real decision making powers.”
Labour leader Phil Goff told this year’s local government conference that the Government, in its reform of Auckland governance, is setting up local government with too many restrictions, new costs and controls.
“The result is they are making councils less responsive to local communities. They distrust communities, and so they constrained the powers of local boards.
“The Government trusts the boardroom over the ballot box, and so it has handed 75 per cent of the new city’s operations and services to council companies.
“The Government sees the city not as a community, but as a corporation, and clearly intends for the business side of local government to be privatised.It has removed the requirement to get support in a binding referendum before the Ports of Auckland can be sold.
“Labour will legislate to restore protection to public assets.”

On funding infrastructure projects , Mr Goff said local government bonds would allow local authorities to efficiently access capital markets and lower the cost of their funding. This idea originated with the Capital Markets Development Taskforce last year. Labour set the Taskforce up, and considered it an idea that came out of it with a lot of potential.
“We see bonds as an opportunity for Mum and Dad investors who have been burned by finance company collapses to invest their savings knowing it’s good for the community. Their investment can achieve a fair rate of return, and it’s safer. The use of bonds avoids privatisation of assets that are often monopolies.”
But he said that since the Taskforce proposed the bonds, the Government has so far failed to implement it.
The Labour leader was less persuaded about the merits of public-private partnerships.
“Any infrastructure ultimately has to be paid for by either rates or user charges. In a PPP the final cost to the public must take into account the private contractor’s return on investment.
“Its cost of capital will always be higher than the cost to government. Governments can borrow cheaply because they are less risky.”





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