5th August 2016
With local body elections being held on October 8 it is timely to remind all members that one of our most important objectives is to improve the affordability of rates.
We have had a number of ideas and suggestions presented for our consideration and we have had long and detailed debates on most of them. Most of the ideas we have considered had merit, a few were simply unworkable and all were the result of many hours of hard work and investigation by dedicated people. We have also had discussions with Local Government New Zealand on a wide range of ways to keep rates down without compromising the provision of essential facilities and services.
There are no easy or single solutions but we have recently been presented with an additional and very serious complication.
The Government has introduced a Bill to Parliament which, if passed into law, will remove much of our right and ability to have any say at all in how our local bodies operate. The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) includes a proposal to extend the powers of the Local Government Commission to re-structure district councils without consultation with rate payers.
That means in effect that the Local Government Commission could require neighbouring district councils to amalgamate some or all of their functions and ratepayers would have no say in the process.
Government interference which resulted the Auckland Super City experiment and commissioners to replace the elected Canterbury Regional Council back in 2010, have only served to push rates up and reduce efficiency. This new proposal would also make it near to impossible for ratepayers to control or even influence the cost of local government.
While we don’t always agree with our local councils we must not lose the right to have our own local government and to elect who we want to represent us locally.
We have made a submission to the Select Committee considering the Bill and given our support to Local Government New Zealand which has opposed the Bill.
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Grey Power’s Aims and Objectives
- To advance, support and protect the welfare and well being of older people.
- To affirm and protect that statutory right of every New Zealand resident, to a sufficient New Zealand Superannuation entitlement.
- To strive for a provision of a quality Health Care to all New Zealand residents regardless of income and location.
- To oppose all discriminatory and disadvantageous legislation affecting rights, security and dignity.
- To be non aligned with any political party, and to present a strong united lobby to all Parliament and statutory Bodies on matters affecting New Zealanders.
- To promote and establish links with kindred organizations.
- To promote recognition of the wide-ranging services provided by senior citizens of New Zealand.
- To gain recognition as an appropriate voice for all older New Zealanders.
Grey Power Achievements
Brief Overview of some results that Grey Power have been effective in achieving.
- Removal of the Surtax
- Asset Testing Legislation being Phased Out
- Lower doctors’ Fees
- Lower Pharmacy Fees
- Removal Over 80’s Driving Tests
- Removal Simulated Driving Tests by Occupational Therapists
- Lower Tariff Electricity
- Superannuation Increased to 66% NATOTWW
- Rate Rebate Scheme re-vitalised
- Independent Superannuation & Income Centres
- Improved Regulations for Rest Homes
- Code of Practice for Rest Homes
- Abolition of Interest on Student Loans
- The National Superannuation Adjustment for the Tax Cuts in the 2008 Budget is a long awaited recognition by a major political party of the plight of the elderly reliant on NZ Superannuation
- Hearing aid subsidy increased
- Rates Rebate Scheme indexed to CPI. Amount now $580 (originally $500) and threshold now $23,240 (from 20,000 originally)
- Spot Audits for Rest Homes
- Retention of Graduating Doctors – (Student Loan)
- Lowering Electricity Increase for ETS
- Retention of SuperGold Card Off-Peak Travel
- Retention of SuperGold Card Waiheke Island Ferry Travel
The Student Loan achievement was recognised in a letter from the Co-President of the NZ University Students Association, Connor Roberts, and also by the Prime Minister in an address to the Students Association in 2006.
We are also mindful of the fact that there are many gains still to be made and that our members can be assured of our continued efforts on their behalf.
In addition to the above, Grey Power has been successfully involved in many outside committees in Energy and Health in particular. Hard of Hearing, Disability committees, NZ Specifications for conditions in Rest Homes,Community Support Services Industry Training Organization (CSSITO) for conditions for Home Care and Rest Home Workers, Health of the Older Person, (HOOP) and Electricity Commission Committees to give a few examples.