Like shooting fish in a barrel, Government ministers MIA

The Nanaiapotamus in the wild Credit: Luke

Jami-Lee Ross has got a pretty easy job, other than his role as Chief Whip for National.

He is opposing the Nanaiapotamus, perhaps the laziest minister ever:

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is being accused of not taking a rates enquiry seriously.

The Labour and NZ First coalition agreement pledged to hold a public enquiry into local government revenue and funding, but after two months in the job Mahuta hadn’t received any official advice on the enquiry.

National’s local government spokesman Jami-Lee Ross says the review was the “only priority for the government in this sector” yet Mahuta has “not started any work or made any announcements on this flagship policy for her portfolio”.

In response to written questions from Ross, Mahuta said in mid-December that she had received no briefings, no reports, no memos, no papers and no aide memoir relating to the review.

“Unfortunately this is starting to reflect the way Nanaia Mahuta dealt with the last enquiry into rates that occurred under her watch between 2007 and 2008,” Ross said.

“Back when she was last the Minister, the government received 96 recommendations from a public enquiry into local government, but, Nanaia Mahuta refused to implement a single one of them in the year and a half after the review.”

She was tokenism personified under Helen Clark. Now it is just the same.

But a spokesman for the Minister said on Wednesday that Mahuta had received briefings in the last week regarding the enquiry, which came after the written Parliamentary questions process cut-off last year.

He said the review was a “priority” for the Minister and the Government in the new year.

Just as soon as they finish taking an extended holiday…then they will get right onto it.

Federated Farmers is also on the government’s case with president Katie Milne saying a review “can’t happen soon enough”.

The 2017 Rates Report in December revealed a “continuing trend of local government rates rapidly outstripping inflation”, she said.

“From 2007-2017, the consumers’ price index went up 21%. The local government cost index – which councils say is a fairer reflection of their costs pressures – went up 29%. But both are dwarfed by the 71% hike in local authority rates and charges.”

Milne said the briefing to Mahuta when she became minister acknowledged the problem and noted that “continuing rates increases may challenge the future affordability of council rates for households”.

She said the review 10 years ago was tabled but “more or less ignored by subsequent governments”.

In Mahuta’s written responses to Ross regarding the review she said she was finalising priorities for the portfolio and “taking advice on any additional matters that may be addressed in the current term”.

She said she intended to set up an enquiry into local government costs and revenue options in 2018.

Mahuta also wrote to Ross saying she was taking advice on “how the enquiry work will be structured and the terms of reference” but when asked what meetings, briefings, memos or reports had been received on the matter, she said “none”.

“Ratepayers deserve to know if Nanaia Mahuta will take the portfolio more seriously than she did ten years ago,” Ross said.

I doubt she is. If the Tainui Princess simply doesn’t know that she’s only there for three reasons then she is as dumb as that illegitimate tattoo in front of her shovel muncher.




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