Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

Chch Council Flogs Off Lyttelton Port Company

14/2/06
Chief Reporter

Christchurch City Council Flogs Off Lyttelton Port Company
Full Speed Ahead To The 1990s

The announcement that the Christchurch City Council is bidding (via Christchurch City Holdings Ltd) to buy the 31% of the shares that it doesn’t already own in the Lyttelton Port Company has been touted as somehow returning this corporatised public asset to civic ownership. If the deal stopped there, that would be true. Unfortunately, it does no such thing. The Council is undertaking a two stage process that will see it sell off the Port Company to transnational port management company, Hutchison Port Holdings of Hong Kong. The resulting joint venture will be an approximate 50/50 share split.

In terms of the Overseas Investment Act, any company with more than 24.9% foreign shareholding is defined as a foreign company. The proposed new Lyttelton Port Company will easily meet that definition. So, in one fell swoop (albeit a two stage fell swoop) the City Council will have not only privatised the port company but also sold it overseas.

This should put paid to any lingering illusions about the “People’s Republic of Christchurch”. That may have been true a few years ago but the Council is now very much a victim of corporate capture and sees its mission as running the city as a business. This proposed sale takes us straight back to the 1990s and resumes a process that had stopped when the Council had to sell off Southpower (and what a fiasco the retail energy sector has been ever since, throughout the country). At least then it could plead that it had no choice, that it was forced into selling Southpower by the National government’s policy. But no such situation exists today – flogging off the port company is all the Council’s bright idea (or that of the ideologues who are driving the “businesslike”agenda within the Council). It takes us back to discredited notions like Private Public Partnerships, and other such phrases that were all the fashion last decade, when corporatisation, privatisation and flogging off public assets overseas were all the fashion. In short, it’s all so very 90s.

Doubtless we’ll hear a lot about “why does the City Council need to own a port?” Followed by “why does the Council need to own an airport, water, parks, libraries, roads, etc, etc”. The 1990s has definitely jolted back into life and we’re now on a slippery slope indeed. Two cautionary examples will suffice – Tranz Rail and Air New Zealand. Weren’t they glittering showcases for public assets flogged off overseas?

The Council will reassure us that Hutchison Port Holdings is an experienced port operator. But the fact is that once this deal is through, it will be Hutchison calling the shots with our public asset, not the Christchurch City Council. That’s the central reality of foreign control – ownership means control, and decisions are made elsewhere, in the interests of the foreign owner and its shareholders. That may well include on-selling the asset to another foreign owner. Or, as the taxpayer had to do in the case of both Tranz Rail and Air New Zealand, the Christchurch ratepayer may be left to clean up the mess and buy back what was once ours. As the saying goes, “That’s business”.

The award for starry eyed naivete goes to City Holdings chair, Bob Lineham, who said that the deal is timely as NZ is negotiating a free trade agreement with China. Does he seriously think that having our port owned by a Hong Kong transnational corporation will make any difference to that? There’s been an American military base at Christchurch Airport for more than 50 years but that doesn’t seem to have to have done NZ any good in terms of getting a free trade deal with the US.

It’s a sad day for Christchurch. And all for an announced net gain of $41 million. The question must be asked: is the Council so strapped for cash that it has to flog off a major public asset for bugger all return? The piddly amount simply adds insult to injury.

Goodbye People’s Republic, hello Christchurch Inc, run by, for and of Big Business.

Murray Horton
Secretary/Organiser

CAFCA
Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Reaction

Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced

 

Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>

ALSO:


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>

ALSO:

Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>

ALSO:

Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>

ALSO:

Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election