Chamber supports Minister’s call for regional action

Date Added: 21st July 2015 from

Local Government Minister Paula Bennett has hit the nail on the head with her call for councils to look at growth from a regional point of view, says Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive John Milford.

Mrs Bennett made the comments to the Local Government NZ annual conference in Rotorua today.

"Councils have an obligation to set the right environment for business to create more jobs, and I welcome the Minister's comments around how local government needs to go about achieving that.

"Businesses need the right environment to create more jobs. There has to be a focus on sustainable growth and sensible spending on reliable infrastructure.

"The Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce has talked about this very thing for quite some time now.

"This is more than just about shared services. As the Minister says, it's time to take a mature look at the structure that is needed to lock-in change.

"It's clear that Wellington can't continue as we have. We must look at growth in a regional context and if the current structure doesn't support that then we must change it to something that will work.

"That was the message behind the whole reason for amalgamation, and the need for change remains despite the fact that that commission's initial recommendation didn't find overwhelming favour.

"We need to consider options such as different business structures or increased responsibilities and accountabilities for regional councils, or even installing CCOs for key growth and infrastructure, which might mean doing away with regional councils.

"The Chamber backs the call for local government to live within its means.

"In the latest financial year, across the country council wages and salaries increased 2.3 per cent – the highest since 2012 and well above the CPI, the central government, and private sectors – and that's not good enough.

"Councils have to look at what's driving expenditure. In Wellington, business ratepayers pay 46% of the rates, yet make up only 21% of rateable property. Rates over the next 10 years are set to increase by 62%, and that remains a real concern because 80% of that is just business as usual, leaving the remaining 20% for additional invest-to-grow projects.

"That's not much extra to support local investment and growth, but it seems too much for just business as usual spending."

For more information contact Brent Webling 021 821 383

The speech can be found here