Labour plans to sell assets sends Christchurch into timewarp


stop privatization

Arriving in Christchurch in 2015 feels like arriving in New Zealand in the mid-1980s.

Who would have thought Christchurch City Councillors would vote to sell city assets to wealthy private investors at the expense of the wider community in the same way the 1984 Labour government sold our most valuable national assets?

Surely politicians have learnt the impact of such disastrous policies but it seems not.

And like 1984 it is a Labour-led council which is doing the damage. As a Labour MP Lianne Dalziel (now Christchurch City Mayor) supped so many times from the poisoned chalice of privatisation that she’s immune to its effects and is happy to support up to a billion dollars of city assets passing into private hands.

Ironically the more conservative Bob Parker as Christchurch mayor remained staunchly opposed to asset sales throughout his tenure and there would have been outrageous indignation from Labour councillors if he had made any such proposal. 1984 was no different. National’s Rob Muldoon as Prime Minister would never have got away with cleaning out the family silver so it was left to a deceitful Labour government to turf him out and then repeat ad nauseam “there is no alternative” to allowing the plunder of our economy for corporate gain.

Lianne Dalziel has the same mantra and went further a few weeks back telling citizens not to bother making a submission against selling assets unless it could be detailed how the projected budget shortfall could be met without chopping off the city’s arms and legs.

Her challenge is an affront to democracy. It’s not the job of individual citizens to write the city’s budget and neither is it the Mayor’s role to constrain debate on alternatives of which there are many. It’s clear the various cost-sharing arrangements with the government need to be revisited as well as the reluctance of private insurance companies to meet such obligations as payment of 95% of the cost of rebuilding damaged community facilities.

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However it seems the Mayor and Earthquake recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee prefer to stand with tight-fisted private insurance companies than with the city’s citizens.

And instead of requesting the government renegotiate the timeframes for capital projects Dalziel tells us the council will have to sell assets based on figures which been pulled from the air by a pro-privatisation corporate entity.
Skycity recently renegotiated their convention centre agreement with government whereby Prime Minister John Key agreed to reduce the centre’s capacity by up to 10% to save Skycity money. Where is the same government commitment to Christchurch citizens?

Unfortunately we have a mayor who doesn’t even want to ask and this in turn has encouraged Brownlee and the Auditor General’s office to ramp up pressure to sell assets.

It seems the record profits of the city’s bloated insurance companies are untouchable unlike the pockets of its citizens.

Cantabrians are being asked to pay through massive rate increases and sale of assets for a catastrophic event whose costs should be met by New Zealanders as a whole.

So where are our elected councillors in all this?

Along with the mayor the same Labour-supporting city councillors who last year signed a pledge not to sell city assets before the local body election lined up in December to betray their pledge and the voters who took them at their word.

We should expect nothing less than the mass resignation from council of these hapless invertebrates.

Back in the 1980s the rationale for selling assets was to pay back government debt but former Finance Minister Roger Douglas has long since revealed the true reason was ideological – to support big business and let the benefits trickle down to the rest of us. Plenty has trickled down on low and middle income families since but it hasn’t been money. Hundreds of thousands of families have been driven into poverty by these policies while the one percent has been obscenely enriched. Christchurch councillors are prepared to add to this massive inequality with irresponsible and short-sighted actions.

Mayor Dalziel is talking about selling assets to “strategic partners” as though there is some sort of half-way house to privatisation. There isn’t. It’s just another way of softening us up because the mayor is not prepared to stand up to the government or the corporates.

Not selling the city’s assets will require a battle with central government and private insurance companies. The Mayor and Council are not up for it so it will be left to Christchurch citizens.

We’ve seen it all before but whereas in the 1980s we were half asleep to Labour’s betrayal we can’t let the same happen in Christchurch in 2015. We have no alternative but to fight and win.



    • The only ‘alternative’ you have on offer is to use the NZ Super Fund as the purchaser. That means compelling taxpayers to invest in something that may not return an appropriate dividend. No thanks. Sell off to private investors, and let them take the risk and the reward, and leave the rest of NZ without any more debt than the country already has.

  1. Isn’t the basic problem that National is forcing Christchurch City Council to pay for about half the rebuild when it should be the government that is paying for all of it. No one expected Napier and Hastings to pay for their own rebuild back in the early 1930s. The Green Party had the best idea and that was a tax paid by all New Zealanders to pay the cost. Now the Christchurch City Council is in the position of having to tell residents they have to pay for their own sandbags this this winter.

    • Insurance payments have risen twice since the earthquake,but the people of Christchurch are not getting the benefit.
      Who will be the benificiaries of asset sales? the shareholders of the assets at the expence of the people.
      This government is creaming everything off the people wherever they can with any excuse.
      This government should be helping the people of Christchurch not taking more off them .Not only have the people had the misery of an earthquake,they havnt in some cases had their homes replaced and now they are having public assets taken as well.
      If there was a byelection in Canterbury now it would be another Northland.
      No point mentioning the excesses of parliamentary expences in sending spouses overseas for a free holiday. MPs salary rises and backdated, etc etc .

    • The ‘Govt’ is you and I. So, we cold paraphrase your comment “it should be us as individuals that is paying for all of it.” Well no thanks. Christchurch has assets it can use to help fund the rebuild, and it damn well ought to contribute. And I’d be willing to bet most Cantabrians agree.

  2. There are things afoot for corporations to take much more than public assets. In USA people fell for low interest rates to buy houses they couldn’t afford, it didn’t take long before the banks started repossessing because people fell behind in mortgage repayments.

    In NZ banks are throwing money at people in Auckland at very low interest ,the house prices are rising constantly,its like a pyramid scheme , people can sell now and make big profits, but if there is a big crash in economies and that’s what is being predicted in USA,the people who are buying now with big mortgages will find prices drop but still trying to pay off mortgages,with dropping values the banks can claim a lack of equity in properties.

    In crashes jobs are lost, how are people to pay with no income or only one income
    If a house is bought for a million dollars and the price falls to say $600.000 ,mortgage holders still have to pay back the high price for the properties, but cant sell because it would be at a loss and they still have to pay the million back.
    The prices cant keep rising.
    Better to buy properties in places like Hamilton to get on property ladder, and rent in Auckland, if a rental is available, if people get wise and stop buying in Auckland then more rentals would be available.

    There is an upside to prices dropping ,it would discourage overseas speculators if no prospect of profit.
    Only desperate people would sell at a big loss and still keep paying mortgages, so they are in hock to the bank who will happily take the house off them for the lower price and still make people pay the difference of the loan.
    People in USA are sleeping in the streets because of bank forclosures,it could happen here in NZ. The only ones who gain are the banks.

    • @ Elle . Brilliant . Your comment is comforting to me .

      All foreign Banks OUT ! NOW !
      All mortgage debt written off . NOW !
      All NZ assets returned to us NOW !
      All foreign investors who will lose money in the re-nationalising of OUR assets ? Tough . Get over it , now fuck off ! ( I’d put roger douglas’s address and phone numbers here but I don’t have them . Do you have them ? If so , send them to the off-shore investors . I’m sure they’d have questions to ask of the short arsed traitor . )

      • Countryboy , I know how you feel ,we have a government not many trust and we seem impotent to get rid of them.
        Other countries are the same Uk has Cameron a puppet of Wall st or Financial city of London, all untrustworthy crooks.Harper of Canada is another puppet ,Not sure about Abbot.
        What a state to be in when we cant trust anyone in power.
        Key I trust least of all,and I don’t believe he has 50 per cent of people still trust him, the polls will say anything he tells them to say.he has a such a hold of NZ is scary.
        This situation surely cant last till 2017,once TPP is signed he will be gone, then there is TISA another so called trade deal that will cripple NZ as we know it ,
        Key is working against our interests and he dosnt care if we know it. The whole population controlled by one corporate raider ,plus his henchmen who all sing from the same song sheet,all being paid by overseas interests,and we are paying their salaries and perks to let them do their dirty work.
        Not sure if Winston can do anything really,but I sure hope he tries.Maybe a decent National MP will resign to force another byelection,maybe Peter Dunne will refuse to back Key, maybe Winston can encourage Maori to vote against Key,no hope of the ACT non party he has visions of Key rewarding him .

        So there is some hope so onwards and upwards we are Kiwis we won’t let the
        ba#s*a*ds get us down, never give in never give up is our motto,well its mine actually .

  3. Warning to all you diddum’s . Contains sweary words .

    ‘ The worm turns aye ? ‘

    On 8th September 2010 at about 4.30 am after our house stopped bouncing around , the liquefaction stopped oozing and my heart started beating again I said to my then partner ” Some fucker’s going to make a lot of money out of this . ”

    So , just how much is dalziel paid then ? What’s a mayoral salary plus entitlements these days ? And her quisling ( I love that word ) underlings ? Nice cars have they ? Big fat pay checks ? Free this and that’s ? Nice dinners ? Fancy restaurants ? Fine wines ? Air travel ? Invited to the best parties , all whoop de do ? Rubbing shoulders with flouncing roosters ? Deals done ? Plans hatched ? Nod and a wink ? Say no more ?

    I’ve got the tar , who’s got the feathers ? I’m fucking serious ! Those assets are NOT their assets . They’re OUR assets !
    Fuck the rebuild then ! Let our city stand like She is . Battered and bruised but never defeated . Fuck the glass boxes ! Fuck the wanky-sparkle ! Fuck the fancy fellows in their finery ! Fuck the authority ! Fuck the greedy Insurance Scum with your record profits ! Fuck EQC , CERA Etc you fancy lazy bastards ! Fuck the Banks with your record profits , you parasitic scumbags ! Fuck lianne dalziel ! Fuck Big Jazza the Brownlee ! Fuck you, you gutless Christchurch City Councillors with your big fat arses in our vehicles running around like your shit doesn’t stink . We don’t need you arseholes ! We need the love and support of fellow New Zealander / Aotearoans , not liars , swindlers , cheats or double dealing , deal doers .
    The Ch Ch ‘ rebuild ‘ is a country wide responsibility because we are a country-wide country . In fact I’d argue the ‘ rebuild ‘ is a commonwealth responsibility . The entire British Commonwealth should chip in what they can and make something special out of an earthquake wrecked city in a loyal commonwealth country . Not some bone to be chewed on by a few soulless corporates . The sell off of our assets must be stopped now . Not debated ad nauseam until everybody gives up and goes home , such is the tactics of the neo liberals .

    Make a stand . Say NO ! And defend that decision to the death !

  4. Who benefits from the Christchurch earthquakes ? The banks; investors; certain politicians; overseas interests ; Fletcher Building; drug dealers ; and corporations etc. . . . are benefiting while our assets; environment and our people continue to suffer. Is it so far fetched to continue to state that some believe that Christchurch was a HAARP induced event, maybe as well as Fukushima ?
    Why ? Big money to be made and control to be had. Why would the Rothschild’s family buy up land on Banks Peninsula and elsewhere ? Why are we being labeled the US spy station for the pacific ? Past history around the Christchurch airport and the U.S. ? Why was FEMA overwhelming present around the Christchurch area during and especially before the earthquakes ? People whisked away out of Christchurch ( Bilderberg type meetings and officials and others ) just before the quake ? The day before the quake, 147 pilot whales were beached near Christchurch making many think it was U.S. sonar and/or Haarp related and on and on.

    Fletcher Building are mainly owned by the Rothschild’s family ! ! The zombie banks are in bed with John Key and they are benefiting. John Key owns shares in Fletcher Building so he is personally gaining from the rebuild. There was a VERY LONG AND POWERFUL blog on all of this several years ago on the Uncensored site and the blog was hacked and many problems with it. Many of us felt we were hitting the nail on the head and this threatened the powers at be. Many intelligent and great writers contributed to that blog.

    Maybe we can start sharing again because our collective wisdom may be needed to re-focus attention on what really happened. Courage is also needed as many will think what I have shared here to be bollocks and only believe what the media and government affirm. I personally feel that all the truths about the Christchurch earthquakes are not fully known and many have been covered up.
    Profit ; greed and crimes before PEOPLE rears its ugly head yet again.

  5. Just in the meanwhile, I think I will work on the assumption that Leanne Dalziel’s heart is in the right place. This doesn’t mean you can’t reiterate the demand that assets be treated as the treasures they are.

    However, cynicism and quick-draw suspicion in the end can have a corrosive effect on the discussion of policy. It’s good to question and (even) to offer alternatives. But if we declare that they are ALL bastards by definition (or all but our narrow confreres), then we are royally screwed before we even begin, because everyone can play that game (see U.S. politics for dysfunctional ammunition).

    Christchurch has massive problems to address and an only sometimes sympathetic government. They can object and posture as much as they like, but in the end they have to make some hard choices to get stuff done. It isn’t capitulation, it is realism.

  6. This being an opinion piece, it is long on rhetoric, and short on fact, which I find disappointing, as this is an important issue, and goes to the heart of how the National (corporate raiding party) government has bled the Christchurch council, and the people of Christchurch white for four years, while playing self serving politics with the connivence, and enthusuastic support of a corrupted fourth estate….

    “we have a mayor who doesn’t even want to ask and this in turn has encouraged Brownlee and the Auditor General’s office to ramp up pressure to sell assets”.. How does the writer know that the mayor hasn’t made many, and strenuous efforts to lobby the mininster over just this issue? Does the writer know for certain that this isn’t just the bastard Brownlee being Brownlee?? If not, then this article is reduced to no more than partisan assumption…. The almost desperate attempts to equate this with the “great traitor” and his behaviour as a “cuckoo in the nest” have me despairing of a man who I have always had the highest respect for, reduced to shrill, and unfounded finger pointing….

    This IS a serious development, and asset sales should be avoided if there are other ways to stave of insolvency, but I think that the evidence for the real reasons for this looming financial crisis, and it’s rational resolution reside in the hands of a government that has proven, over and over again, that it has no “bottom of the barrel” when it comes to scapegoating politicians, and in fact anyone who represents an opposing view to their agenda of asset stripping for the benefit of Johnny(the hateful clown) Keys american bosses….

    If I’m wrong, then prove it guys… I really want to hear the facts on this one….

    • Come on Steffan, if in fact Dalzeil had really pressured Brownlee and if in fact the Labour MPs in Christchurch put up a decent fight then it would all be in the media, it simply isn’t. The only way to stop this is to build public support and to make the 6 councillors who did after all sign a pledge saying they wouldn’t sell prior to their election squirm and change their votes. This city suffered a huge event which as someone has said previously is the responsibility of everyone in the country to pay for. I have absolutely no doubt that if this happened in Wellington and politicians were forced to see it on a daily basis more would have been done at a much faster pace and people would feel they hadn’t been forgotten.

      • “if in fact the Labour MPs in Christchurch put up a decent fight then it would all be in the media, it simply isn’t”. You’re surely not relying on the NZ fourth estate to actually publish something like that prominently, are you?

        So what don’t people understand about the emperor Gerry the Gerbil having the power to enforce exactly what he wants upon the Christchurch council? The imposition of a massive level of debt that should have been the governments has had no effect? I well remember the “fourth estate” publishing that the council had “had to disclose a much larger debt than previously admitted”.. Did no-one read between the lines, and find out that that “undisclosed debt” was actually the nats shafting the people of Christchurch…. and sticking it to the labour party for good measure…..

        The use of assumption to argue for the first set of assumptions has no basis in fact… Where are the facts?

          • I’ll take that on board Lloyd…. I hadn’t heard her name mentioned when the right leaning “rogernome” faction has been pointed out in the past….

            The inference being that she is amenable to rolling over for Gerbil without any fight?

  7. Could the people of Christchurch force a by-election?
    They could state that they have been poorly represented by their MP, as very little has been done in the past 4 years.
    I recently read a document posted up on one of the anti JK facebook sites about a group in Christchurch taking Gerry Brownlee to task.
    It read as a well informed, legal document, but I have not seen any follow up since. Did anyone else read this document to do with unsafe building zones/practices?

    • How very strange. Comment after comment presenting a perfectly understandable opposition to the unnecessary sale of its assets being voted down in what is supposed to be a Left leaning web site. What is going on here? Is this a concerted attack?

  8. Perhaps that was National’s plan all along – keep post-disaster Christchurch on the bare bones so that they have to sell assets. A great experiment in the neo-liberalisation of local bodies and hey, if it works here we can do it in other places!!

  9. In some ways I agree with Countryboy as in “Let our city stand like She is . Battered and bruised but never defeated… “.

    We all want some of the items that are being rebuilt but do we need state of the art, shiny, glass everything? For example I certainly want good libraries in Christchurch but I’m quite prepared for them to be housed in prefabs for the rest of my life or until we can actually afford new flash buildings. We have rugby fields that work we cant afford flash stadiums. We truly need to cut our coat to the cloth and get what we can afford not what foolishly extravagant politicians and corporates tell us we have to have and then force us to pay for.

    For myself four and a half years on I just want my house fixed. Corporates are having enough trouble managing the residential rebuild let alone stadiums, convention centres, innovation precincts and so forth … They cant do it and we shouldn’t let them.

  10. One thing I’ve never got my head around. Where is the insurance money? To replace/repair all that was damaged – surely the majority of it had some form of insurance. So where is the money? Did everyone simultaneously forget to update their policies to reflect current costs to rebuild? And if there are insurance companies trying to renege, where is the govt./law to ensure justice prevails? Between all the EQC levies and insurance premiums paid over the years by ChCh folk alone, surely this rebuild has been paid for many times over already.

  11. Quicksilver I think you will find that many of the assets were under-insured and that is partly why we are having to go further into hock.
    What I don’t like is the scare mongering.
    Dunedin and Auckland have a debt to household ratio the same as we would have if the assets were not sold.

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