|Raf Manji and Lianne Dalziel: Flogging off the assets of Christchurch.|
The Christchurch City Council has announced that City Care, its construction and maintenance company, is up for sale. But the Labour-linked People's Choice councillors, supposedly opposed to privatisation, are refusing to say anything.
HAVING JUST TALKED PUBLICLY about 're-engaging' with the people of Christchurch, Mayor Lianne Dalziel has blithely ignored the wishes of the people and announced that City Care is being put up for public sale. The announcement has been cynically timed for three weeks before Xmas, when many people have other things on their mind.
Despite having been told by 96 percent of submissions to its Long Term Plan that the sale of council assets was not acceptable, Dalziel and her council chums are going to flog off the construction and maintenance company. And that's just the start of the fire sale.
Supporting her in this misconceived and disastrous plan are right wing councillors like Finance committee chairperson Raf Manji. Manji though likes to posture as a progressive and describes himself as a 'social entrepreneur'. But while talking the 'cooperative (capitalist) economy' and other gobblygook, his economics views are, in practice, straight out of the neoliberal textbook. If Manji had his way, the council would also flog off its social housing stock, home to some of Christchurch's poorest and most vulnerable people. Of course, there aren't too many council flats in Christchurch's wealthiest suburb, Fendalton, where Manji resides.
While we might have no expectations of Dalziel, Manji and co we might have reasonably respected a response from the People's Choice councillors - they, after all, developed an alternative budget that rejected the sale of council assets.
But Peoples' Choice spokesperson Cr Andrew Turner has refused to comment, claiming it is now a matter for Christchurch City Holdings Ltd (CCHL), the holding company for the council's assets.
Three of the council appointed directors on CCHL are privatisation supporters - Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck, Jamie Gough and, yes, good old Raf Manji. The only People's Choice councillor is Yani Johanson, who presumably is keeping his mouth shut.
So when it came to the crunch, the Labour- linked People's Choice councillors have raised the white flag of surrender and sold out the people of Christchurch.
Indeed Lianne Dalziel seems to have 'favoured status' which is something that former mayor Bob Parker didn't enjoy. That's also amply demonstrated by two prominent observers of the Christchurch rebuild, James Dann and Barnaby Bennett.
Neither hesitated to criticise the Bob Parker - led council but they have remained conspicuously silent as far as Lianne Dalziel is concerned - indeed, have defended her.
Despite having both opposed privatisation in the past, neither Dann or Bennett have had anything to say about the sale of City Care. Apparently its okay when their mayor is doing it...