Friday, 5 March 2010

Federated Farmers want poll tax, user pays and no rates

By Pat O’Dea

With the planned rise in GST to 15% tied to income tax cuts, the wealthy are continuing – with the help of their friends in parliament – to transfer the central tax burden away from themselves and onto the rest of the community.

Following success at central government level, the battleground for neo-liberal restructuring and deregulation of the economy is set to move to the local government level.

Hoping to take the advantage of Rodney Hide’s enforced amalgamation and centralisation of councils, right wing business lobby group, Federated Farmers are lobbying for a Maggie Thatcher type poll tax, which they call a “Residents Tax”, to replace rates on property.

The Fed president Don Nicolson sess this as the next step in changing what he calls the “three Fs” for councils: form, function, funding. With changes in form and function well under way, Nicolson says, “I do look forward to taking this third ‘F’ out of the shadows and into the light of day.”

If they are successful in dominating the new council bodies, the Feds and other right wing lobbyists, will seek to fund a huge rates cut for themselves, by imposing a poll tax on every single adult, including pensioners and beneficiaries. They are also demanding much more user pays for council services.

From Nicolson’s speech:
We want local government to get its tax income from every resident and not just those who are considered to be ‘landed’.
The ‘landed’ should not be expected to subsidise the rest of the community as a result of a theoretical value placed on their property.

Our future must be one where everyone pays for activities where everyone benefits equally – perhaps through a fixed charge on every adult resident.

I believe if it looks like a tax, feels like a tax and impacts your wallet like a tax, then let’s stop calling it rates. Let’s call a spade a spade.
A Residents’ Tax is our preferred outcome as it impacts 100 percent not just 64 percent. Our starting point is that every adult should pay a Residents’ Tax. Handing over your hard-earned money to a local council changes the psychological stake you have in a community. That includes beneficiaries too. Building community wellbeing starts with having an investment in a place. That place being your community.

The not quite overt message from Federated Farmers, is that the bulk of the urban and rural working poor are bludgers on the farm and business owners. As race and class are often very much intertwined you can detect the silent dog whistle behind these statements.

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