Last year ACT leader Rodney Hide’s Rates Capping Bill was killed, when NZ First voted with Labour. As a face saver, NZ First extracted the promise of a Local Government rates inquiry from Labour.
The committee charged with the investigation was announced on November 1st 2006 by local government minister Mark Burton.
“The government has worked closely with New Zealand First in developing the terms of reference for the inquiry to ensure an independent and robust process.
“We also consulted with other political parties who showed a genuine interest in this issue, particularly the Greens, and considered the views of a range of organisations and key stakeholders such as Local Government New Zealand,”
A three-member inquiry panel was chosen. They were David Shand (chair), Graeme Horsley and Dr Christine Cheyne.
Panel members were selected on the basis of their combined experience relevant to local government and the raft of skills and expertise in rating systems, taxation and financial management, governance and community participation and well-being.
The Terms of Reference set out the inquiry’s objective, which is:’to consider issues relating to current local government rating, and to other revenue raising mechanisms, and provide recommendations to the Government for enhancing rating and other funding mechanisms for local authorities.‘
Whaleoil researched the backgrounds of the three panelists and found some reasons for concern (if you’re a ratepayer that is).
I also searched my records;
Graeme Horsely comes from an accountancy background. He was in 2004 appointed to the deputy chairmanship of the Bay of Plenty District health Board, by the Labour government.
Panel chair, David Shand has an interesting background.
Mr Shand has extensive international financial experience, most recently for over eight years as a public financial management specialist at both the World Bank and the IMF, International Monetary Fund. He has also worked with the OECD. He has held a number of senior positions in state and federal government in Australia, including Deputy Secretary of the Victorian Treasury and Queensland Public Service Commissioner. In the early 1970s Mr Shand was a city councillor with the Wellington City Council. Mr Shand is also a Director of Meridian Energy Ltd. He is a former University lecturer in public sector accounting and budgeting and has published numerous articles on public management, in areas of public financial management.
All true, but here are some more details about Mr Shand.
In 1964, David Shand founded the Te Rangatahi group at Victoria University to promote the UN Charter. Other key members were Helen Sutch (daughter of suspected Soviet spy, WB Sutch and ex-communist, Shirley Smith), Geoff Bertram (later to attend a pro North Vietnamese “peace conference” in Paris)and Kevin Clements (later a leading peace activist and sociologist).
In 1969, Shand was International Vice President of NZUSA. He travelled to Kuala Lumpur, with NZUSA president, Peter Rosier, to help found the Asian Student’s Association-a pan Asian grouping of leftist student’s organisations.
In 1969/70 Shand chaired and attended meetings at 34 Kelburn Parade, Wellington of the “Committee for the University of the South Pacific”, a support group for the newly founded instituton in Suva, Fiji. Several members of this committee were later identified as Maoist leaning radicals, including Dave Cuthbert, Hilary Watson, Don Borrie and Roger Clarke.
In 1972, Shand was Labour’s candidate for Wellington Central. He was one 6 candidates who protested the expulsion from Labour of members of the Trotskyist Socialist Action League.
In June 1973 Shand addressed an SAL run “Socialist Forum” at Victoria on “The Record of the Labour Government”
In June 1976, as a Labour Wellington City Councillor, Shand signed a petition initiated by the SAL calling for a public enquiry into the activities of the CIA and SIS in NZ.
In August 1976, Shand addressed a Hiroshima Day march, in Wellington, organised by the Maoist leaning group, CANWAR.
While David Shand’s provable radicalism is decades old, Christine Cheyne’s is much more recent.
…a senior lecturer at Massey University. She has studied and written on local government in New Zealand. She is an environmental sustainability representative on the Horizons Regional Council Regional Land Transport Committee, and is a member of the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board. She has previously worked in planning and research for the Palmerston North City Council. Dr Cheyne has specialist knowledge in the community welfare aspect of local government, including community planning, representation, participation and well-being which has been the focus of her research and work. In addition she has contributed to publications on local government leadership, decision-making and governance.
Christine Cheyne is one of NZ’s leading academic Marxists. In 1989, she was controversially commissioned by the ultra left Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace to write $30,000 study on sexism in the Catholic Church.
During the late ’80s and ’90s, Christine Cheyne was heavily involved with “Sites” a “A Journal for Radical Perspectives on Culture” largely run by Massey University academics.
In issue 23, Spring 1991 Cheyne contributed the article, “Post-Marxism and Retro-Marxism: Theorising the Impasse of the Left”
In August 1999 Cheyne spoke at the launch of an NZ Council Trade Union book on Business Round Table influence on NZ government policy, held at Palmerston North Labour Party rooms.
Cheyne has been working on local government for years, much of it from the point of view of extending cooperation between central and local government and local government/community “partnerships”. She is very close to Prime Minister Helen Clark and the labour government.
Christine joined the staff at Massey in 1990 after working in policy and research positions in central and local government. In her various positions, she has sought to build strong linkages between researchers, policy makers and policy stakeholders especially at the interface between local and central government and communities. In 2001-02 she worked in the Office of the Prime Minister.
In December 2004 an important symposium was held in Auckland;
‘After Neoliberalism? New Forms of Governance in Aotearoa New Zealand’
This extremely successful event brought together scholars exploring diverse aspects of the new political and governmental environment. Professor Jamie Peck, Geography and Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, delivered an excellent keynote on Neoliberlization which was followed by presentations by David Craig, , Christine Cheyne, Geoff Fougere, Bruce Curtis, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Nigel Haworth, Nick Lewis, Jacqui True, Graham Smith and Rosemary Du Plessis.
Most participants were known socialists. The conference explored the new forms that local government could or should take. There was no call for getting government out of our lives, only for making local government even more encompassing.
New Zealander’s clearly want rates relief. Is this enquiry, presided over by a panel, closely linked to the Labour Party likely to deliver what we want?
Or is it yet another cruel Labour Party hoax-using a Bill designed cut rates as a pretext for an enquiry which will almost certainly recommend the expansion of local government power?