At times Phil Twyford reminds me of Chicken Little. He runs about a lot claiming the sky is falling in over the Auckland Super City. Absolutely everything is to do with privatisation. I think he’d call more money for Libraries as privatisation, as Libraries buy books from the private sector!
Anyway Brian Rudman has an interesting column today, which waters down some of the hysteria from Twyford. Rudman is from the left also, but isn’t a politician. Rudman writes:
Also dumped was a proposal to amend the Local Government Act to permit “divestment of council [water and wastewater] supplies to the private sector”. The Cabinet decided instead on a minor change, extending the time limit on any contract a council made with a private water supplier or operator, from the present maximum of 15 years to 35 years.
Mr Hide received another bloodied nose over his proposals on the expansion of Watercare Services into the sole provider of all drinking and wastewater services to the new Auckland Super City.
He wanted to scrap legislative requirements that Watercare pay no dividend and that it “manage its business efficiently with a view to maintaining prices for water and wastewater services at the minimum levels.”
He argued to the Cabinet that “the Auckland Council, as the sole shareholder, will be best placed to direct Watercare, through its constitution and statement of intent, in how water and wastewater services are to be priced to achieve its broader objectives.”
His “sleepy” Cabinet colleagues managed to stay awake long enough to vote both of these proposals down.
Now some of you, like me, might actually have wished Rodney got more of his proposals through.
The point of the post though is to highlight the gay between Twyford’s hysteria and the reality. Rudman continues:
The Government’s attempt to keep the money we pay in our water bills going on water services is commendable.
People more savvy on these matters than me also say the prohibition on dividends and profit-taking will be a dampener on any foreigner contemplating a bid on this $5 billion asset. That’s if it ever gets to that, and only extremists on the edges of the Act Party and water campaigners who enjoy scaring themselves to sleep each night, seem to think this is a possibility.
Scaring themselves to sleep and boring everyone else to sleep I think.
Sure, the Cabinet has endorsed Mr Hides’ proposal that come 2015, the Auckland Council should be allowed “to determine … the governance arrangements and asset ownership for the delivery of water services.” I’m relaxed about this. While I see no reason to even bring the issue up in 2015, if the UMR poll, Labour’s Auckland issues spokesman, Phil Twyford is waving about is accurate, it’s a non-issue. The poll shows 85 per cent of Aucklander oppose privatisation of their water assets.
Mr Hide’s argument is that once the new Auckland council is bedded in, it should be allowed to decide on issues such as the governance of asset holdings in Watercare.
At least Wellington is letting us have a say for once. We should treat that as a breakthrough and a precedent, not a threat.
Phil constantly advocates that Wellington should be running Auckland more.Tags: Brian Rudman, Phil Twyford, privatisation, water