Monday, May 20, 2013

No asset sales in Christchurch

Some good news: Christchurch won't be selling its assets to fund the rebuild. They've looked at their finances, and drawn the sensible conclusion that its both unnecessary and stupid. They'd rather have the income to keep rates down long-term than a one-off cash infusion (and financial problems further down the track).

But they still have one problem: Gerry Brownlee:

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says there's a $600 million gap between what his city is prepared to spend on new projects, such as a convention centre, and what the Government wants.

Speaking on Firstline this morning, Mr Parker said the council has asked the community what it wants and how much it's prepared to spend, but the Government is pushing for more.

"Over a year ago, council ran a budget through a consultation with its community, and it said – take for example, the convention centre – that we would rebuild the convention centre, make it a little bit bigger, and build it on the old site," says Mr Parker.

"The Government plan came through and said no, we want it to be 50 percent bigger than you're planning to do, and we want it to be on a central city site, a different place about 500m closer into the heart of the city.

What gets built in Christchurch should be up to the people of Christchurch, not dictated by a Minister in Wellington. Sadly National still doesn't seem to understand this fundamental concept of democracy. The question is whether they will invoke CERA powers to force Christchurch to sell its assets to pay for infrastructure they don't want.