Just imagine if someone told you the ratepayers of Auckland and the taxpayers of New Zealand were giving billions of dollars to the wealthiest property owners in the land.
How would the public react? Probably not well. Yet that is exactly the case and I haven’t heard a chorus of talkback abuse or any outraged front pages or indignant questions in Parliament.
The club pays rates of $130,000 a year. If up to 70 per cent of that land was broken up and sold for housing and the rest left in parks, it would produce revenues of $16.5 million a year.
That’s an annual subsidy of $16.37 million, or $11,700 a member.
Councils should and do provide recreational and sporting facilities. But I don’t think golf courses should be subsidized like this. Sporting fields tend to be open to anyone to play on for a minimal fee, and often can host multiple codes. Also they are much much smaller than golf courses.
I think golf courses should have rates assessed at market prices. If the land is worth $500 million, then their rates bill should reflect that.
Even if each member played 50 rounds a year, that would be a subsidy of $233 per round or $13 a hole.
That’s a huge subsidy.