I do worry that the same thing of “big money, underhand PR and defamatory blogs” as written in the last article could be used to undermine Local Government. With the media obsessed with “click bait”, and newsrooms understaffed, the PR industry is having a field day.
I do worry about how vulnerable Local Government is with weak Councils and weak administrations around New Zealand often appearing to be like cornered animals in the desert surrounded by lions ready to pounce. When Councillors boast about how they are keeping rates down whilst not investing in infrastructure they play to various businesses which wish to obtain control of publicly owned assets.
Just think about the assets owned by CCHL right now. If previous Councils had given in to the forces which were attempting to purchase them in the 1990’s this City would be broke right now.
The assets would be sitting in a holding company like Infratil which owns many formerly publicly owned assets which is right now subject to a take-over bid by an Australian investment fund. The power to control these assets has gone and the debate is only about how much money they are worth. Wellington has a number of assets sold by earlier Councils which could end up owned by Australian investors. Ratepayers there will be pawns in a game played by overseas Directors. We don’t want to be in this place.
Is water the next target for those with a neo-liberal agenda?
I particularly feel that the point of greatest vulnerability for Local Government right now is how WaterNZ is influencing public policy to the detriment of local control of water. Big money is driving this debate, and individuals imagining huge salaries available way above what they can get in Local Government.