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National paves way for privatising local assets

8 November 2009
Media Statement

National paves way for privatising local assets

The National-ACT Government has decided to repeal the requirement on councils to consult the public before they privatise assets or contract out services, says Labour's Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford.

Mr Twyford, whose member's bill to protect Auckland's assets under the super city was voted down by National and ACT in August, said the move was clearly designed to pave the way for privatisation of community owned assets.

"The Government has repeatedly denied they had any plans for privatisation. They voted down my Bill because they said there was no threat of privatisation. Now we see their real agenda."

The move is listed as one of a number of "minor legislative amendments" in a Cabinet Minute two weeks ago, and was not mentioned in a press statement released by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide on the Government's planned changes to the Local Government Act.

"The Government knows that privatisation is deeply unpopular with New Zealanders,” Phil Twyford said.

“Polls consistently show more than 80% of Kiwis oppose privatisation. That is why the Government has tried to slip this change through. It is also why they want to make it easier for council to sell off their assets without having to consult the community."

The revelation follows Government plans to amend the Local Government Act to loosen the controls on the privatisation of water services. Cabinet has decided to allow private companies to own water infrastructure outright for up to 35 years at a time.

Phil Twyford says the decision to repeal the obligation on Councils to consult the ratepayers on privatisation plans is hypocrisy by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide.

"This is the man who wanted to impose mandatory referenda on councils for significant and irreversible decisions but he doesn’t want them to have to consult on selling off assets,” Phil Twyford said.

“The Cabinet paper justified repealing the requirement to consult before privatising or contracting out by saying the current law ‘is biased against the use of the private sector to deliver council services’."

ENDS

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