Today’s announcement that the Christchurch City Council will sell 100% of its infrastructure company, City Care, is foolish in the extreme.
For a city that is undergoing a $46 billion rebuild, this is exactly the wrong time to be flogging off its core infrastructure company.
People from all shades of opinion agree that the guts of local government responsibility are things like roads, footpaths, water and sewerage – the very things that City Care exists to build, repair and service.
Keep Our Assets Canterbury (KOA) does not defend City Care’s empire building up and down the country.
Nor do we defend obscenities like its CEO’s salary.
But we do say that it is absolutely essential that the people of Christchurch own and control what used to be the City Council’s Works Department.
To those who say “what’s wrong with passing public assets and/or services to private owners?” I give a one word answer – Serco (to give just the most current example of what is wrong with privatisation).
The people of Christchurch can expect to see City Care’s new owner go down the old familiar privatisation path of staff cuts, price hikes and quality decline.
KOA and its constituent groups and parties will fight this and any subsequent selloffs (tipsters pick Red Bus to be next).
This will be a major issue at the 2016 local body election, particularly as no City Councillor has a mandate to sell our assets.
The subject was never mentioned at the 2013 election.
We repeat our central point that the motivation driving this, at both central Government and City Council level, is ideological, not financial.
The quake rebuild costs provide a convenient excuse for what is a classic example of disaster capitalism and asset grabbing.