Neoliberal ideologue Pete Townsend wants the Christchurch City Council to sell its libraries. And its all part of a wider campaign to privatise council assets.

ONE OF THE MANY PROBLEMS WITH THE PROPOSAL TO SELL DOWN the assets of the Christchurch City Council is that it opens up the door to other privatisation demands from those who seek to financially benefit from it at the expense of the community.

So we should not be surprised that the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce is arguing that it is not necessary for the good people of Christchurch to own assets such as libraries. According  to CEO Pete Townsend; "They can be easily built and owned by the private sector and leased through to the council."

And whose going to financially benefit from this proposal, Pete? Why, it will be the private sector that Townsend represents. The people of Christchurch,in stark contrast, would face increased charges because private companies, by definition, would seek to make profits out of the Christchurch City Council.

And, in a world where apparently everything is up for sale, publicly owned libraries remain one of the last public spaces where the profit motive does not prevail. All that would change under Townsend's proposal.

In a library people are in a space beyond the marketplace, beyond consumption, beyond the  rule of money, beyond the noise.

The sort of extremist neoliberal nonsense coming  from Townsend should not be even in the ball park but here it is. Townsend, who would really like all of the Council's assets sold off to his mates, has effectively been invited to put forward this proposal by privatisation supporters on council including Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Finance committee chairperson Raf Manji.

We should be clear about this. It won't stop with just a partial privatisation of selected council assets. The economic pressure and the political demands for further privatisation will simply increase - and that is what is being encouraged, however unintentionally, by Dalziel, Manji, Buck and the other privatisation supporters on council.

The alternative argument is that the good people of Christchurch are best served if all council owned assets, including the libraries, stay in council hands.


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