This Week’s Meeting – 5 Marsh 2018

We began with a Rotary banner swap, with Sharon Fraser from the Rotary Club of Chongqing in China.  This Club was re-chartered in 2016, as Rotary was banned in China under communism, but has slowly been allowed to establish itself again, but under very strict conditions.  One being that only foreign passport holders can be Rotarians in China, unlike Lions, where only Chinese can be members.
Our key-note speaker was Auckland Councillor Desley Simpson, who was interviewed by Craig Brown.  The title of Desley’s speech was ‘The State of Auckland’s Finances and How It Affects You’.  Desley is the Deputy Chair of the Finance and Performance Committee and leads the political advisory team.  While Mayor Goff’s aim is to keep rate increases to a minimum, the reality is we live in a city that grows by 50,000 people annually and has infrastructure that is in dire need of upgrading – due to the lack of any long-term infrastructure maintenance programme.  Then, as well as the normal rates, targeted rates have also been proposed as a new initiative regarding environmental issues (such as the kauri dieback problem) and water issues (such as sewage frequently ending up in the harbour).  Then there is also the fuel tax which will be implemented later this year to help fund Auckland’s transport problems.  The issue with this particular tax, is its domino effect, as very few goods and services will not be impacted by this levy, leading to across the board increases.  No one doubts the need to generate funds regarding transport, the issue is what will these funds be used for.  Currently, the government doesn’t have a clear plan to improve Auckland’s transport woes and until it does, we need to be sure the fuel tax funds are not diverted elsewhere.  Auckland’s continuing population growth has highlighted the need for long-term, as well as short-term infrastructure plans and hopefully the current Auckland Council starts making long-overdue improvements in this area.