Christchurch Rates Validation Bill Upsets Some MPs

by Desk Editor on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 — 9:25 PM

A bill validating Christchurch City Council’s rates which were unlawfully set for ten years has made progress, despite some criticism of the Council’s attitude towards the process.

The sponsor of the Christchurch City Council (Rates Validation) Bill Nicky Wagner said it was a simple bill fixing an error that was made with the best of intentions, an attempt to simplify the language meant some words were left out despite all the correct information to make a rating resolution being given.

Parliament did not like passing retrospective validation laws, but Wagner said in this case no one had been wrongly treated, while the correct rates had been collected and lawfully paid.

This bill validates a number of rates and penalties for non-payment collected despite unlawful resolutions setting the Council’s rates for the financial years 2003/2004 to 2012/2013.

National MP Scott Simpson, who chaired the committee which considered the bill, was scathing in his assessment of the council saying the council’s mistake had been a very poor one. The Council had seemed to think the mistake was no big deal, no one had been held responsible for a significant mistake and there was no contrition. Mr Simpson said the Council seemed to think it did not matter since Parliament could put it right, but it showed a lax attitude to the law.

NZ First MP Ron Mark was equally critical in his assessment saying 10 years of repeating a mistake showed large councils did not always get it right, though a number of MPs also defended the Council’s staff pointing out Parliament often passed validating legislation to fix its own mistakes.

The bill completed its second reading on a voice vote.

MPs began the committee stage of the Social Security (Clothing Allowances for Orphans and Unsupported Children) Amendment Bill
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