Yet again the reason why the public distrust politicians was highlighted in a recent article in Newsroom when Phil Mauger backed down on his absolute promise to not sell CCHL assets during the last election campaign.
Here’s what Phil said during the election campaign in this article in the Press. A reminder to Phil is that the public believed you. Already on the streets I’m hearing the term one-term-Phil. Here’s the article: https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/129482302/christchurch-mayoral-hopefuls-promise-not-to-sell-ratepayerowned-companies
Mauger made a stronger promise on CCHL companies.
“You can take it from me that under my watch as mayor, I will not be selling any of these assets,” he said.
“You read the room a bit and people are very attached to those.”
Mauger also said he would not sell community assets, namely libraries or swimming pools.
“You’re lining yourself up to get shot [if you do that].”
However, the Councillors are being carefully groomed right now to accept that this is the only solution to the Council’s current financial challenges. Here’s the article: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/pro/christchurch-mayor-backtracks-on-asset-sales
So, I sent the letter below to all councillors:
Kia ora Councillor:
Below is an article in Newsroom this morning. I recommend that you read it.
We are aware of a campaign to slowly prepare you all to accept that the sale of CCHL assets is inevitable. The article below highlights this campaign. Your regular seminars on CCHL businesses are also part of this process. The positive side of this exercise is that you are all being made aware of the assets in depth. It would be interesting to review the briefing given to each of the parties who are advising you. I am sure you will all have seen the briefing documents.
As the currently elected reps in this City, you hold our City, and its assets, in trust for future generations. Just as those of us who preceded you did. Assets can be sold once. Wellington Councillors sold their assets and maintained a regime of low rates for too long. Look at the state of their infrastructure and they now have few trading assets to rely on.
Instead of selling assets the challenge is to ensure that they are all performing to their maximum potential. This City experienced a massive disaster in 2011 from which we will take decades to recover. CCC’s debts reflect this. The assets of CCHL saved our City from massive rate increases by them having a low debt level and being able to borrow against their asset base at the time they really were needed. If they had been sold by previous Councils, this would not have been possible.
Over the next few months CCC and CCHL will come under increased scrutiny as elected reps you are slowly moved toward entering the “the-only-answer-is-to-sell-these-assets” door. You will be visited individually by individuals and organisations lobbying you to accept that selling CCHL assets is the only solution. The sale process would generously line the pockets of many people who are supposedly acting in the Cities interests. Make sure that you also hear the opinions of sensible financially literate individuals who will advise you about how to support the Board of CCHL to ensure the assets you hold in trust could, and must, perform better.
Do not feel that you are on your own as you undertake the LTP. Over the next few months as you prepare the LTP we will be making suggestions to assist you with your deliberations. Making CCHL’s assets perform better will automatically take the load off ratepayers. That’s the job in front of all of you, and the Board of CCHL, as guardians for future generations. Selling these businesses will stop this flow of income to CCC for ever.
I am happy to meet with any of you to discuss the challenges in front of you.