15 Apr 2010

Greens urge non-payment of rates in Canterbury

11:34 am on 15 April 2010

Green Party supporters are to encourage people in Canterbury not to pay their rates in protest against a Government decision to replace elected members of the regional council with commissioners.

The idea was launched at a meeting in Christchurch on Wednesday night: 240 people attended.

A panel of commissioners assumes the running of the Canterbury Regional Council on 1 May.

Christine Dann, one of those behind the protest, says Cantabury people have been stripped of their democratic rights and should not have to pay tax.

Residents will be encouraged to ask for a rates refund and pay part of their rates into a trust rather than to the council.

Ms Dann said the move is a rates resistance, rather than a rates revolt.

She said withholding rates is not a crime if people believe they are doing it for a greater good and Cantabury people should not be afraid of being prosecuted for refusing to pay rates.

Her proposal raised many cheers, as did a description from Green MParty Sue Kedgely, who likened the Government's move to those made in Fiji.

However, Hurunui District Mayor Garry Jackson said he believes the Government will restore democratic election to the regional council once the commission's job is done.

He said he had a mandate from his council to complain to the Government and that stemmed from the complaints and frustrations his consituents had.

Mr Jackson said Canterbury people need to hang tough and not take any hasty action like rates revolts.