For the second day in a row the Local Government Minister has been unable to explain why her answers to questions don’t match reality, National’s Local Government spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says.
“The Parliament works best when ministers give honest answers to questions. When their answers don’t stand up to scrutiny, we have to ask what on earth is going on.
“I asked Nanaia Mahuta whether she had received correspondence from local councils between October 26 and November 28. She said she had received no correspondence from any councils during her first month as a minister.
“This just isn’t plausible – letters obtained under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act show she had personally responded to letters she claimed she had never received.
“At best, her office is so disorganised they can’t even track when they’ve replied to mayors or chairpersons of councils in New Zealand. At worst, her office has deliberately misled Parliament.
“The Government needs to be working with local councils to address local issues but what we’re seeing here is just another example of Nanaia Mahuta not taking her portfolio seriously. Our local councils deserve better than this.”
The National Party will be supporting changes to allow retirement village residents to claim a rates rebate, Local Government spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says.
“Rates rebates are an important part of the rating system which helps people on low and fixed incomes to better afford their annual rates.
“National supports the extension of the rates rebate scheme to retirement village residents. We previously opposed the Rates Rebate (Retirement Village Residents) Amendment Bill because it was unworkable and a ‘once over lightly’ approach to law making.
“The Bill had very little detail on how ratepayers could apply for a rebate when living in a retirement village, it posed uncertain costs on local authorities and retirement village operators, and the very department tasked with implementing the new provisions was strongly opposed.
“Last year, we raised these concerns at Select Committee and requested more time to fix the Bill. This request was opposed at the time by Labour. It’s now pleasing to see that the Government has had a change of heart and addressed the concerns we raised.
“We have always maintained that we will support the Government when they make good decisions, and hold them to account for bad ones. Now that the Bill gives retirement village residents and councils more certainty, as well as ensuring the better access to the rates rebates scheme, we welcome the improved Bill and will be supporting it.”
National MPs Denise Lee, Simeon Brown and Jami-Lee Ross have today launched a petition to gather support for the East-West Link which is now uncertain under the new Government.
“In announcing that the East-West Link is being sent back to the drawing board, the new Government has clearly signalled it does not understand the urgency of Auckland’s congestion issues,” Ms Lee says.
“The value of this project to residents, businesses, and the council should make it of utmost importance to the new Government but all we have is uncertainty and the dismissal of a monumental amount of work that has been carried out to date.
“After a decade of planning and $50 million of investigative spending, you would expect that there was a clear direction on the project. This project has been through a fine toothed procedural process like no other. It is supported by council, iwi, and has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Board of Inquiry.
“The current gridlock is a major barrier to commerce. This is making it difficult for people getting access to their basic daily goods. It is quite literally the bread and butter of transport projects.”
Mr Brown says many residents in Pakuranga work at or own businesses that would have benefitted from this project.
“With freight movements in the area expected to double by 2035 it is an important part of the solution to Auckland’s transport issues.
“The area targeted by the East-West Link employs approximately 68,000 people and contributes roughly $4.6 billion a year to Auckland’s economy. The key aspect of the project is to create a further connection between State Highway 1 and State Highway 20 and improve connections to rail and freight hubs in the area.”
Mr Ross says the hold up on this project means that the wider East Auckland area won’t see the full benefits that would be delivered by transport projects like East-West Link and AMETI.
“Botany is home to the growing East Tamaki industrial area, projects like East-West Link are very important for ensuring that freight can be moved more efficiently in the future.
“This is an important project that the Government has wrongly thrown into uncertainty. We will continue to push the Government to include the project in their plan and we encourage the public to show their support through signing the petition.”
The petition can be found here.
The Local Government Minister needs to get on with her job and tell ratepayers what she plans to do about the Government’s promised review into local government spending, National Party Local Government spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says.
“The Government promised to hold a public inquiry into local government revenue and funding, yet despite this being the flagship policy for her portfolio it appears Nanaia Mahuta has not started any work or made any announcements on it.
“Ms Mahuta claimed to be seeking advice on establishing her review, however her answers to parliamentary questions paint a more lacklustre picture.
“In answer to my written questions, the Minister has claimed to have received no briefings, no reports, no memos, no papers and no aide memoir relating to this review. She has also confirmed that she has not had a single meeting about the proposed inquiry.
“Ms Mahuta is either showing a very limited interest in the single priority her Government has for the local government portfolio, or is misleading Parliament in her answers.
“Unfortunately this is starting to reflect the way Ms Mahuta dealt with the last inquiry into rates that occurred under her watch between 2007 and 2008.
“Back when she was last Minister, the Government received 96 recommendations from a public inquiry into local government, but Ms Mahuta refused to implement a single one of them in the year and a half after the review.
“This review will be exceptionally important to local councils and ratepayers. Ms Mahuta needs to be straight with them about what she plans to do.
“Ratepayers deserve to know if she will take the portfolio more seriously than she did ten years ago.”
Visiting the Botany site (from left to right) are Armstrong Motor Group directors Dean Ellwood and Mark Darrow; Minister of Transport Simon Bridges; Armstrong Motor Group managing director Rick Armstrong; Member of Parliament for Botany Jami-Lee Ross and managing director of United Industries John Williams. Photo supplied
Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges and Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross have visited the construction site for Armstrong Motor Group’s massive new dealership in Botany.
The project is on track for opening in May 2017 and now well over half way through the build programme with the roof installed and concrete floors poured, having broken ground originally on May 9, 2016.
The site boasts more than 5100 square meters under roof including 21 service bays and is understood to be the largest retail dealership building in New Zealand.
The wider Botany area is growing incredibly fast, and this will provide the genesis of a new Auckland automotive precinct on for Auckland East, the company saior the Armstrong Motor Group, this further expands its Auckland footprint with dealerships already in Grey Lynn, Greenlane and Mt Wellington. The new motor vehicle dealership at 279 Ti Rakau Drive will be by far its largest.
Armstrongs have already announced that Mercedes-Benz have awarded the Armstrong Motor Group the franchise for the area – making it the third Mercedes-Benz dealer in Auckland and the 10th in New Zealand.
The Armstrong Motor Group is no stranger to the brand with two Mercedes Benz dealerships - in Christchurch and Dunedin - and has been named Mercedes-Benz dealer of the year for the past five years.
Armstrongs have been working in conjunction with Ti Rakau Properties, part of the United Industries Group, to develop the 1.1 hectare Ti Rakau Drive site.