|Dalziel and Manji: Pursuing a neoliberal agenda.|
Confronted by growing opposition to both massive rates hikes and the sale of council assets, Mayor Lianne Dalziel has presented a revised long term plan that she claims addresses the concerns of the good people of Christchurch. It doesn't.
MAYOR LIANNE DALZIEL has presented a 'revised' Long Term Plan (LTP) which, she claims, is evidence that the she and her councillors have listened - and acted - on the concerns of the local community.
""I believe my proposal strikes the right balance between the two resounding messages we have heard from residents: getting the proposed rate increases down and retaining public ownership and control of our core infrastructure assets," she told a media conference on Friday.
This is far from being accurate. Once again, Dalziel is grandstanding.
Under the original plan rates were set to be increased by 8.75 percent next year and 8.5 percent, 8.5 percent and 7 .5 percent respectively over the following three years. In total rates would increase some 33 percent.
The new proposal would still see rates rising sharply by some 8 percent next year and by 7 percent in the following years. That would be a total increase of some 29 percent. It is still a massive increase and would significantly increase the financial burden on Christchurch ratepayers - many of whom are already doing it hard. These rate increases would also flow into already high and unaffordable rents.
Dalziel and her council supporters are also intent on selling council assets, despite overwhelming public opposition. The only 'concession' is the sale will occur over a period of three years, rather than in just one hit. But it is still privatisation - just packaged differently.
The new privatisation agenda also includes a 'special consultation process' with assets artificially classified as either 'core' or 'non core'. 'Non core' assets, such as the public transport company Red Bus, can be sold off - hook,line and sinker.
The'core assets', Orion New Zealand, Lyttelton Port Company and the Christchurch International Airport, are still vulnerable to partial privatisation. Any proposed sale would merely trigger the ' special consultative procedure'.
Given the insincere and cavalier attitude demonstrated toward 'public consultation' by Dalziel and her council supporters this 'special consultative procedure' offers zero protection from private interests seeking to benefit at the expense of the people of Christchurch.
Indeed Dalziel told the media conference that : "I'm not saying we have to retain 100 percent ownership of any one of them, what I am saying is they are truly strategic assets."
So, after making a great play about 'consulting' with the local community, Dalziel and her supporters are still pursuing exactly the same agenda they proposed originally. The only difference is that there will be a minimal adjustment to the proposed rates rises while the sale of council assets will be staggered over three years.
Dalziel and her supporters like Raf Manji and Vicki Buck have paid little more than lip service to the concerns of the local community that they are supposed to represent.
They still propose to sell out Christchurch, in more ways than one. They need to be stopped.