Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Taking Rodney at his word

Tonight on Campbell Live, John Campbell did a piece on Phil Twyford's Local Government (Protection of Auckland Assets) Amendment Bill, which comes before the House tomorrow. The bill would protect Auckland's estimated $28 billion of public assets from privatisation by requiring any sale to be approved by a referendum. Campbell put the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, on the spot over the bill, his comments on privatisation and his commitment to local democracy. Hide said he objected to the bill "because it only applied to Auckland", rather than across the entire country.

A cynic would say that this was his attempt to weasel out of telling his own voters that they shouldn't be allowed to control the fate of their own assets, but I prefer to take Rodney at his word. It would be a trivial matter to tweak Twyford's bill to apply to all local authorities, rather than just those in Auckland. In fact, if Rodney grants leave, then the select committee can be instructed to amend the bill in the fashion he desires. Otherwise, a new bill can be introduced through the normal ballot process - but having committed so publicly to protecting all local authority assets from privatiastion, I'm sure Hide wouldn't want to wait. Especially when doing so would make him look like a liar...