Lefties ginger up asset debate
A left wing Christchurch ginger group wants to “save” public assets – at national and local level.
Keep Our Assets-Christchurch is a coalition of political parties, unions and activist groups including Labour, Alliance, Greens, Mana, Democrats and the Hobgoblin Network.
Familiar mouthpieces include Bill Rosenberg, economist and policy director for the NZ Council of Trade Unions, CTU stirrer Marty Braithwaite and activist Sharna Butcher.
The arguments are well known at national level but have taken on a sharp focus in Christchurch where Employers Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend has been exhorting the city council to sell assets to pay for the government's central city rebuild plan.
“In the finest traditions of disaster capitalism the political and big business cheerleaders of privatisation are demanding that Christchurch’s Council-owned assets be flogged off to pay for the huge cost of quake recovery and, not coincidentally, to line their pockets," activist Murray Horton says.
“If they’re flogged off the city will be left without the major income stream generated by these assets and ratepayers will be left to shoulder the disproportionate burden of greatly increased rates.
“Christchurch provides a very clear warning of the perils of privatisation. Some things are just too big and important to be left to the market, and disaster recovery must be a core function of the State.
“For all EQC’s shortcomings, the situation would be a damned sight more dire without it. Imagine if we were entirely at the mercy of the insurance transnational corporations, who are playing hardball and holding the city, and the whole country, to ransom,” the group says in a statement prepared by Mr Horton.
He told NBR ONLINE the group is equally opposed to state asset sales.
“No matter how much the Government tarts it up, the glaringly obvious fact is that Mum and Dad already own the five state-owned energy enterprises. We have paid for them by our taxes, why should we be expected to pay for them again?”