Although local authorities are low on the list in terms of the total national debt, that debt is escalating dramatically as deferred repairs and replacements of infrastructure can no longer be ignored. Social Credit will ensure infrastructure is repaired and expanded. We will not countenance the use of public private partnerships as a funding mechanism.
We will achieve this by:
• Using the overdraft or revolving credit tool through the Reserve Bank to make interest-free money available to local bodies
• Providing access to interest-free loans for new infrastructure projects
• Abolishing GST on rates
• No further sale of assets or public utilities, other than through a binding citizens referendum
• Funding local energy projects that produce alternative renewable fuel
• Supporting local processing of primary agricultural products, to enhance job opportunities
• Supporting local and participatory democracy through de-centralisation of government, strong community identity and greater use of binding citizens referenda
• Implementing a Single Transferable Vote system for local body and general elections, resourced adequately to ensure sophisticated and reliable counting systems are in place
• Introducing legislation to implement the right of local body electors to "recall" any local body politician who breaks their election promises
Local bodies will not have to choose between urgent needs, or put off the establishment of, or improvements to, community assets such as parks, libraries, theatres or sports centres.
Rates income can be liberated to retire existing interest-bearing debt. Rates levels could go down without reducing council services.
Local community groups could access better funding support, and special projects such as cycle lanes, micro-generators and other green initiatives will be possible.
Rather than narrowing the focus of local authorities because of budget constraints, or the trend of amalgamation that erodes real democracy for the sake of saving money, a new era of holistic involvement by local councils is envisaged.
This might include taking responsibility for pensioner housing, participation in sustainable community initiatives, supporting arts and culture with purpose-built venues and marketing, and closer involvement in local school projects or business ventures.
Stephnie de Ruyter, Local Govt Spokesman