Local MP Scott Simpson Fails to Deliver For His Elderly Constituents
In a move which seems very likely to cost votes for local MP Scott Simpson, the National Party has blocked a Private Members Bill which would have given an annual rate rebate of up to $600 to every occupier of a unit in a retirement village. The Bill had the support of a majority of MPs in Parliament. The Bill also had strong support from retirement villagers, the Retirement Villages Association, Local Government New Zealand, Grey Power and many local authorities including the Thames Coromandel District Council. But in a cynical and callous move, the National Party moved the Bill down Parliament’s Order Paper at the last minute, so that it could not be voted on and passed before the election.
Residents of retirement villages with an occupation right agreement pay rates but, in most circumstances, pay indirectly (i.e. to the retirement village owner) rather than directly to the local authority. Under the Rates Rebate Act 1973, these residents are not entitled to a rates rebate. It is this anomaly that this Bill addresses.
The Bill, promoted by Labour MP Ruth Dyson would have given the rate rebate to hundreds of retirees in the Coromandel electorate and around 25,000 nationwide. Some Thames retirees approached local National Party MP Scott Simpson and pleaded with him to support this Bill, as did the Thames-Coromandel District Council. In spite of Scott Simpson being the Chairperson of the Select Committee which heard submissions on the Bill in Parliament, his Party blocked the Bill and prevented it been passed into law before the election.
Mr Simpson was not able to deliver for his elderly constituents. 27% of the Thames Coromandel population are aged over 65 years and 50% of them have National Super as their only source of income. Saving up to $600 a year is a very big deal indeed. Blocking this law change will be a very black mark against Mr Simpson and the National Party with a very large and influential segment of this electorate – especially with the election just weeks away.