Buying local good but not for oil?

12/04/2011

A review of the way the Dunedin City Council manages its $1.9 million vehicle fleet includes a recommendation to drop the buy-local policy.

Existing policy required the council to buy goods and services from Dunedin suppliers where possible, if the purchase price was under $50,000, which meant a variety of Dunedin dealerships were supported, the review found. . .

The review acknowledged an end to the buy-local policy “will be unpopular with local dealerships”, as the policy aimed to support the continued viability of Dunedin businesses.

However, the council also had to minimise costs for ratepayers.

“In this regard, unless local vehicle dealerships can ‘meet the market’ or at least be within an acceptable range, it will be impossible to achieve both objectives.”

On the face of it a council supporting local businesses make sense. They pay rates, buy goods and services from other businesses which pay rates and employ people who pay rates all of which fund the council.

There is also a question over whether buying local does actually cost more:

The peer review of the original Management Toolbox review had been conducted by FleetSmart, which provided fleet management services to the council, and its findings contradicted some of those in the original review.

That included the suggestion the council should end its buy-local policy, as the peer review questioned whether doing so would achieve further savings, he said.

If everything else is equal using local dealers could be the best option.

But if buying local is more expensive then ratepayers are effectively subsidising the businesses.

Apropos of buying local, this catch-cry of environmentalists doesn’t appear to apply to oil:

Greenpeace climate campaigner Steve Abel said protesters were sending an “emphatic message” to the Government that deep sea oil drilling would not be tolerated in the country’s waters.

Protests like this one against Petrobras which is surveying in the Raukumara Basin off East Cape are very good publicity for the protestors but they are misguided.

They’d be better putting their energy into ensuring there are safeguards to protect against environmental ill effects if drilling eventuates.

That way we might be able to buy local fuel without any unacceptable risks to the quality of our water.


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