Monday, July 01, 2013

A solution in search of a problem

Last week, it looked like the government had finally changed its mind on Auckland's rail network. Now, it turns out that its just a scam to try and force them to sell their assets:

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says Auckland will have to look at selling assets to fund its share of the $2.86 billion underground rail link.

This government has only one policy, and it is a solution in search of a problem. Need to meet an arbitrary and political budget target? Sell assets. Earthquake? Sell assets. Need to fund a rail link? Sell assets. And next they'll be telling us we need to sell assets to fund Sky City's casino expansion.

The good news is that the decision isn't up to them - its up to the Auckland Council. The bad news is that thanks to National's new local government laws (which allow them to pull an ECan anywhere on the flimsiest of pretexts), that might not be enough protection. Which is why we want robust laws requiring referenda for any asset sales, whether owned by central or local government, and fast.