- Date published:
8:33 am, July 3rd, 2019 - 98 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, john tamihere, local body elections, phil goff, privatisation, Privatisation, uncategorized, water - Tags:
The Auckland mayoral campaign is getting interesting.
Past campaigns have been rather boring. The first one, between Len Brown and John Banks was one sided because Brown had such an outstanding campaign. The contests since have been even worse.
The current campaign should be a ripper. Tamihere does not hold back. His campaign this year has involved a number of staunch positions on issues.
He has Matt McCarten and Michelle Boag behind him. This will explain the slightly jerky impression of his policy positions. They seem to veer from the left to the right, from solving the housing crisis to privatising large swathes of Auckland’s publicly owned infrastructure.
His announcement yesterday, that he wanted to privatise half of Watercare, cause a number of jaws throughout the region to drop.
From Todd Niall at Stuff:
Mayoral challenger John Tamihere wants to sell 49 per cent of the Auckland Council-owned water company, in the biggest policy splash of the contest.
Tamihere said the proceeds of the partial sale of Watercare could deliver cash to build much-needed infrastructure.
The announcement came in the first head-to-head debate with mayor Phil Goff at a business breakfast on Auckland’s North Shore.
Goff exclaimed: “What?” in apparent disbelief as he listened to Tamihere, and said any sale would put “water bills through the roof.”
“Watercare is not for sale as long as I’m mayor,” Goff told Stuff in one of the biggest policy divisions so far between the pair.
Watercare Services Limited is controlled by legislation cementing it in council ownership, banned from paying a dividend, and required to operate at the lowest cost.
The only area that had previously privatised water was Papakura when
George David Hawkins was the mayor. The local experience matches those throughout the world, the water became more expensive and the reliability of supply was either the same or worse.
So Tamihere’s announcement is unusual. It may gain support among the right and among Hawkins style Actoids.
But it will inevitably mean the cost of water goes up. ACC will not purchase the shares out of the goodness of its heart. A dividend will be expected.
And already there are complaints about how unresponsive to public interests Watercare is. Increasing the corporate nature of Watercare will only make things worse.
What are the benefits? Tamihere says the sale is required to improve water quality. But the current Council has already passed a targeted water rate so that important infrastructure can be built.
Tamihere has promised that this campaign will “shake it up”. This latest announcement will have that effect.