I am dismayed by the attitude of a council staff member as well as the deputy mayor, who both in my view seem to imply that staff decisions are beyond questioning by elected councillors (Recommendation hailed a victory, February 2).
In a true democracy, nobody can be beyond criticism or questioning. Paid staff are not tin gods. Attempts to silence councillors who are suddenly finding their own voices and appear to be unafraid of questioning professional staff decisions is appalling arrogance. Councillors are exercising their right to free speech as guaranteed under the Bill of Rights, and the United Nations Charter.
In my view, if individual councillors are not satisfied with information provided to them by staff, they are quite entitled to question it. Indeed, uncritically accepting everything put before them would be an abrogation of their responsibility to those who elected them.
I really enjoyed the Operations and Monitoring Committee on February 1. In my view the chairman tried every trick he knew to encourage members to 'get in behind' the officials' proposal; to outsource the management of the Aquatic Centre.
The 'Tight Five' tried to restrict questions to the officials' proposal, but got rolled. The other nine committee members supported councillor Kent's motion to recommend to full council that they "go back to the drawing board and properly consider all management options including the staff proposal and development opportunities for the Aquatic Centre".
In my view it is a calamity for the mayor's power bloc. Their desperate need for a new revenue stream via outsourcing has been blocked. Their next candidate, parking, is now far less supportable. Worse, the union-ratepayers' alliance has flexed its muscle, and if they go on to develop a flat co-operative approach to service management, many corporate officials paid over $100K just won't be needed.
Rosemary Michie (Letters, February 1) makes assumptions on GST and poverty that do not stand up. Firstly GST is a simple universal tax. A food retailer will have costs of producing the sale of goods such as power, maintenance, etc. These costs will have GST added to them. The retailer will then deduct the GST paid from the GST received from food sales and pay the difference to the IRD.
If GST was removed from food then the retailer would need to increase prices to remain profitable. The argument that there is an injustice because low income consumers pay a bigger proportion of income on food than higher income earners becomes illogical if prices have to be increased as it would affect all consumers.
Having travelled through Russia, China, India, and South America, I don't believe we have genuine poverty in New Zealand. What we have is very poor decision making. Other countries have faced up to this and in Singapore anyone on state assistance is banned from the casino.
If we 'bit the bullet' here and banned welfare dependents from TAB and Lotto sales, and even restricted cigarette and alcohol availability, we could see a vastly different situation.
Although I have been criticised by some who still think if you give people money you cannot tell them how to spend it!
An estimated figure of close to 200,000 children living below the poverty line in New Zealand is bordering on the criminal. Yet there is money enough to rectify this situation - raise taxes! Not just every tax, just higher tax for those who can afford it.
Anyone in New Zealand earning in excess of $150k a year should pay tax at the rate of 80 cents in the dollar, above the $200k threshold it should be 90 cents in the dollar - that would help pay for the children's requirements.
Let us start with our Members of Parliament - those august figures many of whom have outside interests in the form of investment in the already heavily compromised housing market. Then we have the 'overseas' owned businesses that make vast profits in New Zealand and pay little or no tax! Then again the sale of Kiwi assets owned and exploited by overseas interests who milk our homegrown assets and sell them for vast profit - again without benefiting New Zealand by a single cent!