Open government is fundamental to democracy
Keep Our Assets Canterbury (KOA) has it in writing from Christchurch’s Mayor, Lianne Dalziel, that the agenda for the City Council meeting this Wednesday (November 2nd) will include a decision on whether to restore Enable to the Council’s strategic assets list.
Enable is the Council’s broadband infrastructure company and is in charge of the ultra-fast broadband fibre optic cable rollout in the city. When the Council voted (8-6) in 2015 to sell $750 million worth of publicly-owned assets over three years (a figure reduced to $600m in 2016), it only retained three assets on its strategic assets list: Orion (the electricity lines company) and the Christchurch Airport and Lyttelton Port companies.
Enable was quietly removed from that list, meaning that it could be sold without further notice (companies on the strategic assets list cannot be sold without a public consultation process).
In the course of the recent Mayoral election campaign Ms Dalziel was challenged about Enable by KOA’s candidate, John Minto.
This forced her to promise that putting it back on the strategic assets list would be on the agenda of the Council at its first post-election meeting.
So it is and KOA has it in writing from Mayor Dalziel that she will vote to restore it to the list (which is good news but only highlights that Enable should never have been removed from that list in the first place).
KOA has also learned that this Wednesday’s meeting will vote on whether to put City Care (the Council’s infrastructure and maintenance company) on the strategic assets list.
That will be an interesting debate and vote because the Council, with Mayor Dalziel to the fore, has just recently spent the best part of 18 months trying to flog off City Care as the first of the city’s public assets to be put on the block.
And KOA spent 18 months vigorously campaigning against that proposed sale
The Council failed to sell it and withdrew it from sale in August, in a stunning reversal for those Councillors hellbent on the privatisation agenda (so KOA 1; asset sellers nil).
KOA has no indication which way the Mayor will vote re City Care on Wednesday.
Nor are we, or anyone else, likely to find out.
Because the Enable and City Care items on the agenda are being held in a public excluded portion of the meeting.
Why? Does the Mayor not want the public and media to know which way she and the other Councillors who voted to sell City in 2015 will vote this time around?
KOA urges Councillors to put both Enable and City Care onto the strategic assets list.
We intend to be at Wednesday’s meeting to reinforce that point.
Furthermore, we demand that the Council renounce plans to sell any publicly-owned assets. Permanently take that whole discredited and outdated 1980s’ relic off the Council agenda.
And stop these secret meetings, discussions and votes. These are our assets; the people of Christchurch are entitled to know the full details.
KOA says that the Council needs to behave like a Parliament, not the Board of Directors of a private company.
Remember that you are public servants, accountable to the public who pay your salaries.
You are not a business answerable only to shareholders
Monday November 7th
59 Gloucester Street
Special Guest Speakers:
- · Vanessa Kururangi – Convenor of the Tauranga Housing Group which is fighting government plans to sell state houses in Tauranga
- · Alan Johnson – Salvation Army housing spokesperson from Auckland
- · Rev Sheena Dickson - convenor of the Church and Society Group at the Christchurch Presbytery.
This meeting will discuss the housing crisis for families on low incomes and will launch a Christchurch housing advocacy group.
This is an exciting development and not to be missed.
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Kia ora to the campaign team and campaign supporters
A very heartfelt and personal thanks to everyone who helped out in so many ways on the Minto for Mayor campaign trail.
We were all surprised and delighted at the fabulous support through generous donations of money and expertise, many hours delivering leaflets, time on corners waving placards and help in so many other ways.
In total we raised about $20,000 in donations which enabled us to -
- Print 65,000 leaflets which were delivered to homes across Christchurch
- Produce and distribute 300 fence placards (100 each of three messages)
- Produce a small number of large billboards
- Broadcast dozens of 15s advertisements on commercial radio in the last two weeks of the campaign
- Produce badges, bumper stickers and T-shirts
- We were pleased that 12,500 Christchurch residents showed their trust and confidence in our campaign for me to lead the city.
I think the major success of our campaign has been to make it extremely difficult for the mayor and council to restart their asset sales programme. Our campaign has raised the political price for selling assets – in other words it is now an even more unpopular policy which I think the mayor and councillors will want to avoid.
We have also made other gains on issues like getting the government/council cost-sharing agreement out in the open and pledges from the mayor the city will be able to debate it.
Similarly we have helped change the public dialogue on other issues such as swimmable rivers, the living wage, high salaries for senior council managers and public transport.
These are all significant gains from the campaign and only possible because of your support.
Once again - Thank you all.
KOA (Keep our Assets Canterbury)
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Dalziel Team Try To Stop Minto Representative Speaking To Grey Power Meeting
On September 21st I spoke, on John Minto’s behalf, to a Christchurch Grey Power meet the candidates meeting. John is a high school teacher and can’t accept daytime engagements during term time.
He offered to send me along as his representative as the Keep Our Assets candidate and Grey Power accepted that.
Shortly before the meeting was to commence I was informed, by a Grey Power organiser, that Mayor Dalziel’s team had requested that I not be permitted to speak as “he’s not a registered candidate” (nobody had ever pretended that I was).
When I objected that it was rather late in the piece to be pulling this kind of stunt, Grey Power assured me that they had declined the Dalziel team’s request and that I was welcome to speak, as previously arranged. I duly spoke, and was well received by the well-attended meeting.
I bet Donald Trump is kicking himself that he didn’t think of that angle when President Obama filled in for Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail when she was on sick leave recently: “Hey, wait a minute, that guy’s not a candidate”.
Keep Our Assets Canterbury (KOA) thanks Grey Power for the invitation.
We know that they are proud of the role they played in the national Keep Our Assets campaign a few years ago and we value their support of Keep Our Assets Canterbury now. We know that Grey Power represents a key demographic, one which takes a keen interest in local government and which votes in large numbers.
Lianne Dalziel: getting rattled that John Minto and KOA are raising subjects she’d rather not acknowledge?
What is Lianne Dalziel afraid of?
Is she getting rattled that John Minto and KOA are raising subjects she’d rather not acknowledge?
Is it all getting a bit too embarrassing for the Big Business candidate, who seems to assume that re-election is hers as of right?
Her claim that the Christchurch City Council, under her leadership, has increased its portfolio of assets is a classic example of a politician saying black is white.
Never once in this campaign has she uttered the words “City Care”.
Yet she and the seven other Councillors who voted for asset sales spent all of 2016 trying their damndest to sell it.
When the sale was abruptly abandoned, the only reason given was that a satisfactory buyer couldn’t be found at the right price.
Mayor Dalziel says that the Council has taken back 100% ownership of the Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) and delisted it. Sounds good.
But history suggests other motives. In 2006, under Garry Moore, the Council tried to sell LPC to a Hong Kong-based transnational corporation. LPC was then a listed company and the only thing that stopped that sale was Port of Otago buying just enough shares to thwart it.
By buying Otago out and delisting LPC, it makes any future sale that much easier – by ensuring that nobody else can do what Otago did.
The Council voted (by 8 votes to 6) to sell $600 million of assets over three years (originally, it was $750m) and KOA firmly believes that, if re-elected, Dalziel will resume trying to do just that.
She has given no commitment that she won’t.
If it wasn’t for KOA and John Minto, she would have been re-elected (virtually) unopposed.
If it wasn’t for KOA and John Minto, she would never have been forced to ever address the issue of asset sales in this election campaign.
The only way to ensure that the Council does not sell our assets is to elect John Minto as Mayor.