5 October 2007
Pink Ribbon Day – 12 October 2007
Friday 12 October is Pink Ribbon Day, the nationwide street appeal for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.
"Breast cancer is one of our nation's biggest killers. One-in-ten New Zealand women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and almost every Kiwi family is touched in some way by this terrible disease" said John Carter MP, Northland.
"The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation is the country's foremost breast cancer education and awareness organisation. It receives no direct Government funding and its great work is reliant on volunteers and fundraising initiatives such as this.
"I urge you to support this good cause and, on 12 October, wear the pink ribbon with pride.
"Keep an eye out for Pink Ribbon collectors. Alternatively you can phone 0900 PINK RIBBON to donate $20, or text the word Pink to 336 to make an automatic $3 donation" concluded John Carter, MP Northland.
If you would like to find out more on how you can support the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation check out their website.
7 August 2007
Labour u-turns on building accreditation timeframe
Today's announcement that Labour has extended the deadline for councils to meet higher building consenting standards was completely predictable says National's Local Government spokesman, John Carter.
The deadline for local authorities to gain accreditation as a building consent authority (BCA) was 30 November this year, but has been extended to June 2008.
"This is just typical of Labour's 'regulate first, ask questions later' approach to local government building regulations. Councils all over the country have been telling them for months that the deadline was unrealistic.
"The Minister has only just conceded they were right.
"Unfortunately the timeframe was not the only nightmare facing local authorities with this new legislation.
"The Government has set aside $3 million to assist with the accreditation process, but council staff say they can't access the money, meaning some of the cost will have to be absorbed by ratepayers.
"I am also aware that there are questions about the suitability of some of those applying for funding to enable them to assess the competency of council building officers.
"This accreditation exercise is a bureaucratic nightmare causing blowouts in compliance costs and stress to council staff.
"The extension of the timeframe to gain accreditation should be just the first of a whole raft of measures needed to make it workable."
10 June 2007Local government
Consent delays likely as deadline looms
National Party Local Government spokesman John Carter is questioning labour's "regulate first ask questions later" approach to local government building regulations.
"The building consent process is set for a snarl up because of Labour's rush to regulate."
Mr Carter is commenting on the Government's requirement for all 73 territorial authorities to become accredited to assess or inspect new buildings by 30 November this year.
"The accreditation process has only recently got underway and council staff around the country are telling me they will not be able to meet the 30 November deadline. This means ordinary New Zealanders wanting consents for housing or renovations will face more delays and uncertainty."
Mr Carter says to date, only a handful of councils have gone through the accreditation process. One of the first to do so, Palmerston North, has been left with a long list of things they need to do before they will become accredited.
"Labour's placed extra compliance costs on councils and put extra strain on council staff by placing such an unrealistic timeframe on local authorities. This is yet another example of how the Labour Government is loading costs and responsibilities onto councils and driving up rates."
The Government has set aside $3 million dollars to assist with the accreditation process.
"But council staff are saying they can't access the money, meaning some cost will have to be absorbed by ratepayers.
"I'm also hearing questions about the suitability of some of those applying for funding to assess the competency of council building officers. There are allegations swirling that some of those seeking approval were linked to the leaky buildings scandal.
"The way this accreditation exercise is being conducted is a bureaucratic nightmare that will impose significant costs onto councils and onto ratepayers, while causing more delays and uncertainties for ordinary Kiwis wanting to build new homes or make alterations."
3 April 2007Civil Defence
Flood of promises quickly receding
Northland MPs John Carter and Phil Heatley say they'll hold the Civil Defence Minister to his word over relief promises for flood-affected Northlanders.
"Northlanders have been significantly affected by last week's flood," say the MPs.
"Rick Barker has made some big promises – now we want to make sure he follows through on them."
In Parliament today they asked Mr Barker to confirm his previous commitments that:
- Transit would pay the full cost of restoring each affected road and for council owned roads would pay well above the minimum subsidy
- The Government would reimburse all of the money that councils spent housing and relocating temporarily relocating people
- The Government would pay for anything to do with public safety in full
- The Government would revisit the issue of suspensory loans for farmers in the Hikurangi area
Mr Carter says the Minister's answers in the House this afternoon were disappointing.
"The Minister's replies seemed to be less certain then his utterances in both Northland and on Morning Report," says Mr Carter.
"John and I are going to be watching like hawks," says Mr Heatley. "The Labour Government didn't deliver on all its promises after the Manawatu floods and we don't want that to happen again."
The MPs say they hope Rick Barker isn't saying one thing in Northland and something different in Parliament.
27 March 2007
Homeowners hammered by relentless rates rises
"Homeowners who've just taken a hit from the Reserve Bank should be prepared for another round of rates rises that far outstrip inflation," says National Party Local Government spokesman John Carter.
With annual inflation running at around 3%, three councils have unveiled draft rates rises today, 5.5% for the Waikato District Council, an average of 9.9% for the Queenstown District Council, and a proposed 13.4% hike for Northland Regional Council.
"Many of these councils are carrying the cost of central Government buck-passing over the past seven years. The Queenstown District Council goes as far as to say that 'additional obligations placed on local authorities by the Government through new Acts of Parliament' are a 'key cost'.
"Over the past seven years under Labour, rates have risen by a staggering 44.9%. Add the upcoming rates hikes to the rises in mortgage interest rates, and homeowners are increasingly carrying the cost for Labour's policy settings.
"And what's worse is that homeowners will have to tighten their belts even further as Labour prepares to spend up large in the lead-up to the next election. That'll help fuel further mortgage rises and suck more money out of struggling families' pockets."
Mr Carter says Labour's cavalier approach to legislation which leads to extra costs for ratepayers shows no sign of easing up.
"I'm deeply sceptical about whether the long awaited results from the rates review will spend too much time dwelling on that at all."
1 March 2007Local government
Fair process most important in rates review
"Labour is so out of touch that the Local Government Minister appears to be backing the decision to shut rural communities out of the rates review process," says National Party Local Government spokesman John Carter.
"There are no public meetings planned in rural communities anywhere in the country. Yet, from 2000 to 2006, rates at rural councils have increased by a staggering 34%. If Mark Burton was serious about this review he would have made sure the rural community had a say. He has not.
"It's simply unjust to deny a significant chunk of our community the opportunity to properly voice their opinions.
"Instead of acting to ensure the rural community has a fair hearing, he has complained that any decision to include the rural community in the discussion may push the review out further.
"That is not my problem. It is his. He should have considered that before throwing together a rushed ministerial inquiry simply to stave off National's preferred public select committee inquiry.
"I feel confident that the select committee wouldn't have put up barriers to stop the rural community making their feelings known."
Mr Carter says Mr Burton ordered the review as part of Labour's damage control following crippling rates rises last year.
"Right now, councils are looking to set rates for the current year, and Labour's done precisely nothing to make life easier for them or the ratepayer."
1 March 2007Local government
Northland charities to benefit from National's charity tax policy
Charities in the Northland region will benefit through National's bold new tax policy on charities, says National Party Member of Parliament John Carter.
"There are many community groups and organisations in Northland doing fantastic work in our community. The people of Northland are also very generous with their time and hard-earned money to these groups.
"This policy means community groups registered as 'donee organisations'
working in Northland will receive a significant boost."
The policy will:
- Remove the $1,890 cap on charitable donations. Donations of any amount up to an individual's total net income will be eligible for the 33.3% rebate
- Remove the 5% cap on the level of donations that can be deducted by companies and Maori authorities, meaning they will be allowed to claim a deduction for any level of charitable donation. In addition, all businesses, not just publicly listed or widely held companies, will be able to claim deductions
- Remove gift duty from all donations
"The benefits for the sector in the Northland region are huge, given that for every dollar rebated, the charitable sector will have benefited to the tune of $3.
"National estimates the policy will result in foregoing tax revenue of around $60 million to $90 million a year.
"In his Burnside speech, National Party Leader John Key said he wanted to turbo-charge the efforts of private and community groups making a difference. This policy shows National means it.
"It's a fundamental part of a civilised society that people do things for one another, and do them selflessly, without being compelled, and without the Government organising it.
"Unlike Labour, National doesn't think that more government is the solution to every social ill."
11 January 2007Civil Defence
Labour cavalier with Civil Defence
Civil Defence needs more than just lip service from Labour, says National's Civil Defence spokesman, John Carter.
Speaking on Radio New Zealand, Duty Minister Jim Anderton said 'What we know is we have a system of warning for local government, police, and Civil Defence that is not as good as it could be…'
"Is that what Labour will say if the worst happens and people's lives are put in danger? Will that be the official view in a disaster?
"Given the bold promises which followed last year's botched tsunami warning, it's now very difficult to accept Mr Anderton's slim excuses.
"Clearly, Labour's interest in fixing Civil Defence lasted only as long as the public attention. This is a classic case of Labour over-promising and under-delivering.
"What the 'out of his depth' Mr Anderton fails to understand is that the national warning system isn't just about tsunamis. It's about lahars, earthquakes, floods, severe weather events, flu pandemics and a host of other disasters. It's about the safety of all New Zealanders.
"The Ministry itself says the current system is 'inefficient and may be prone to failure'. These are serious issues that need a serious response now – not after the next natural disaster.
"The Civil Defence Minister hasn't even responded to this matter – surely his holiday is less important than public confidence in our readiness for a disaster."
10 January 2007Civil Defence
Warning system a disaster in the making
New Zealand's civil defence warning system is a mess, and the project to upgrade it is floundering, says National's Civil Defence spokesperson John Carter.
"Two years after the Boxing Day Tsunami, and two years since a review of the National Civil Defence Management Warning System was started, the system remains a shambles."
In response to parliamentary questions, Civil Defence Minister Rick Barker revealed the project has no milestones, no final budget and no final date for completion.
A Department of Internal Affairs document obtained by Mr Carter also highlights the project's inefficiencies.
"In 2005 the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management sent out an electronic document to identify companies capable of providing a better alert and warning system.
"Embarrassingly, the document included track changes from an earlier draft for everyone to see. What it reveals is horrifying."
- The current system is inefficient and may be prone to failure
- Better ways of disseminating messages are possible
- The current warning system does not have guaranteed remote access at all times, and is slow in any case
- Current work-around procedures that have been adopted as a result will not always be possible or practical
"The document also shows that an upgrade was expected in 2006 – but here we are in 2007, and there's no sign of any progress.
"Holidaymakers relaxing on the beach would be horrified to know that may have no warning in the event of a Tsunami, or if they do, it may come too late."
5 January 2007
Rates review? What rates review?
National Party Local Government spokesman John Carter is condemning Labour for sweeping the issue of crippling rates increases under the rug.
"It's been six months since Labour cooked up a deal to avoid the embarrassment of a select committee inquiry into rates.
"Yet the public have heard nothing of Labour's 'independent' inquiry – nor has there been any debate about the areas up for discussion.
"If the Government was really serious about finding answers, it would be soliciting views from a wide range of experts and fostering public discussion. But the inquiry team doesn't appear to be driving any public agenda."
Mr Carter is urging Mark Burton to reveal how much the inquiry has cost to date.
"We know the Noel Ingram inquiry into Taito Phillip Field cost more than $500,000. That took eight months and resolved practically nothing because of the deliberately cynical terms of reference.
"Ratepayers and taxpayers alike will be curious to discover how much the independent inquiry into rates is costing them."