Opinion by Councillor Cameron Brewer
Auckland Mayor Len Brown is doing his best to drown out the airwaves with political spin before a majority of Aucklanders receive significant rates rises in the mail, but in doing so he has sadly resorted to fibbing.
Auckland ratepayers deserve better. They are not stupid and simply deserve the facts from their Mayor, not spin. He’s gone on the counter-attack in recent days which is fine, but he’s been fibbing and he needs to apologise or substantiate his claims.
While the Mayor describes his latest burst onto the airwaves as an opportunity to get ”the real facts” out there, he has misled Aucklanders with at least four claims today during two interviews on Breakfast TV and National Radio.
Len Brown’s first fib: “We have got around 130,000 people who will have rates increases purely as a consequence of the amalgamation…”
While blaming the Government outright is convenient, this is simply not true. If he adopted a higher Uniform Annual General Charge for example, fewer households would be paying more. The council had the tools to lessen the impacts but chose not to use them. The Mayor also had the opportunity to curb his spending and borrowing but refused to.
Official figures from the council’s finance department show of the 256,000 Auckland households that are facing rates increases, the average increase is 8.1%. However in the media the Mayor disregards this fact outright.
Len Brown’s second fib: “That’s actually nonsense… I’ve heard this figure banded around and it is wrong, so there is no substance to that at all.”
Last month Statistics New Zealand released the country’s official inflation rate for the year to 30 June 2012 at just 1%. However the average rates increase for all Auckland ratepayers is 3.6%.
Len Brown’s third fib: “I’ve made a commitment that our rates will be in and around the rate of inflation, and for the first two years they have been…”
Auckland Council’s final 10-year Long Term Plan projects future annual rates increases at 4.9% going forward. However the Mayor describes the 2012/13 rates increases averaging 3.6% as something that will never happen again, despite some ratepayers paying the full 10% cap each year for the next three years.
Len Brown’s fourth fib: This is “a one-off …”
In his enthusiasm to capture the high ground on the rates debate, and under increasing public pressure, the Mayor has resorted to misrepresenting the facts and he’s simply been caught out fibbing. This is a serious issue of credibility. The Mayor needs to apologise to the people of Auckland and correct his statements, or prove that he is right and the official facts and figures are wrong.