Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The other shoe drops in Christchurch

So, having dictated that Christchurch must spend a fortune on a covered stadium and a convention centre, Gerry Brownlee is now effectively demanding that they sell their assets to do so:

The pressure is coming on the Christchurch City Council to sell some assets to fund its share of the rebuild less than 24 hours after the release of the central city blueprint.

Today Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee reminded the Christchurch City Council it faces a big bill for some of the public facilities in the central city blueprint and it has options to deal with that.

At a breakfast of more than 200 business people this morning the minister did not directly call on the council to sell or partially sell some of its assets but alluded to that.

The Christchurch City Council owns its bus company and roading contractor, as well as majority stakes in Orion Energy, Lyttelton Port, Christchurch International Airport and Enable Networks. These are worth over $1.5 billion, and return healthy dividends to the Council which help to keep rates low. Selling them to fund Brownle's white elephants (which will not return these sorts of dividends) is simply madness. But then, this isn't about sensible financial decisions; instead, like the government's plans to sell its own assets, it is about ideology and wealth transfer, nothing more.