Whaleoil isn’t into predictions, but with Cam away, let’s indulge… the Auckland turnout rate for the local body elections will be the lowest ever.

Most of the mayoral candidates and many of the council aspirants are trotting out the hoary old chestnuts, reduction of rates, for example, or capping rates. Remember those promises any other times? Remember any rates reductions, or “caps” staying in place?

Those who suggest these magical solutions may hope to achieve them by sleight of hand, probably by imposing other charges which are not called rates but, instead, petrol taxes, congestion charges, or tolls, which still hit our pockets.

If you doubt those statements, please look at the website showing press statements of Phil Goff, and others.

Other potential rises in council revenue instead of rates may well include bumping up the costs of other services such as water, sewerage, rubbish collection, transport fees, and similar.

Vic Crone delivers fairly similar, glib statements, including “keeping residential rates low” (but how low, for how long?) She will also “cap rates”. At what level? Haven’t we heard all of this before, and how did those promises turn out?

The whole thing is so bland, you can actually feel your brain shrinking. 

John Palino’s three major policies are: “reduce rates” – now that has an appealing sound – but how? “Fix the Unitary Plan” – how? “Fix Transport” – again how? Details apparently are still to be worked out.

On the matter of rates reduction, Palino proposes to “reduce rates by 10 per cent across the first term”. How? By reducing spending on: “non-core” and “wasteful spending” (both terms undefined), “discretionary activities” (also undefined), “payroll costs”, bringing these down “to a more normal level” – again, undefined and how? What might be the costs in doing so?

All pretty vague and glib really.

Mark Thomas too is focused on rates, not surprisingly. (Who isn’t?) But he has a more varied menu of options, such as: “freezing rates for a year with targeted options” or, “two further options of targeted growth involving an average rates increase of ‘around’ 2-4 per cent including a version of targeted rates”. (Getting a bit confused?)

But it’s altogether is a more thoughtful and more specific set of ideas and possibilities than the other three contenders. However, like some others, he also intends to sell off some of our profit-producing major assets.

And that’s just some of the matters to be questioned, including candidates’ views on housing, intensification and transport.

None of the main contenders deal with the central problem of unlimited, uncontrolled migration into Auckland. Some, including Goff, even think that the Unitary Plan is a great proposal.

The only ticket that would get my attention is a “Back to basics” one.   By the time councils are declaring themselves Nuclear Free and are more concerned about safe spaces and trans gender bathrooms, do we really expect them to be worried about the amount of money they take from our pockets?   They will lie to get in, and then set about doing what the last guy/woman did – except even worse.


–  Tony Holman, NZ Herald

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