OPINION: A mate of this old mutt's almost choked on his dog tucker when he came across the musings of former NZ First MP and newly elected Otago Feds chair Mark Patterson.
That’s the underlying message to rural people in the Federated Farmers 2019 local body elections guide, Platform: Feds on Local Government, released at the Feds’ AGM in Wellington this week.
"The quality of local government in rural communities can mean the difference between dodgy roads and safer ones, and many thousands of dollars in rates," Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.
"Rates are among the largest overheads for many farms. Because of the outdated and unfair reliance on property value-based rates, it’s not unusual for a farmer’s annual rates bill to top $20,000, or even $50,000. They can end up footing the bill for a large whack of urban services they seldom, if ever, benefit from."
The Feds’ comprehensive ‘Platform’ booklet is filled with questions and topics to level at candidates putting themselves up for election in October this year.
And there’s also food for thought for existing and prospective councillors as they work on their plans and pledges to voters for the triennium ahead.
"On service delivery and charging, the farming emphasis can be summed up as ‘fit for purpose, at a fair price’," Milne said.
The quality of environmental regulation can make or break a farm business. “So on that front, farmers look for a practical and common-sense approach from councils - one that balances environmental gains with economic impacts and preserving the ability to farm.
"With the annual rates increases of many councils double or even triple inflation, and debt levels also mounting up, farmers - and many other constituents - are looking for councillors who know the difference between ‘nice to haves’ and ‘need to haves’. "And if farmers don’t get satisfactory answers from current and prospective councillors, our guide is challenging them to consider standing themselves. Let’s have more of the pragmatism, innovation and prudence New Zealand agriculture is famous for inside local authority chambers," Milne said.