Like a bigoted relative at a family gathering, council asset sales are the unwanted guest that just won’t get the message. Despite wide-spread opposition in Christchurch, including strong declarations from the council and mayor, the government keeps bringing along asset sales to the party, claiming that it’s their “plus one”. John Key again mentioned it is morning, in a TV interview. Once he’s snuck his guest into the room, he then outright lies about why he’s there at all.

How the city funded the rest of the build was a “matter for Cantabrians to consider”, Key told Firstline this morning. “It is for the council to say ‘do you want the nice-to-haves’,” he said. “Then they’ll ask how are you going to pay? That could be through rates or asset sales.”

The bolded quote is simply a bald-faced lie. The council has no say at all in whether they want nice-to-haves – it is a decision that has clearly come down from the Beehive, where stadia and convention centres seem to be the only pages in their economic recovery textbook. This was made clear to me last week, when I made a submission in person at the council, on the Three Year Plan, partly in opposition to the stadium plan. Upon giving my submission, Councillor Broughton asked me if I knew that it was a decision made by the government, not the council. I did know that, and that my submission was partly in vain, but I still urged the council to oppose these developments.

What Key and Brownlee are doing is forcing us – via the council – to build these assets, in spite of opposition. Then they will turn around and say that we need to pay our share, and that the rest of New Zealand shouldn’t have to go without so you carpers and moaners can have your flash new stadium. Bloody ingrates. So why don’t we just sell some of these assets you have? If the council opposes selling them off – for some obscure reason like the economics of keeping them far outweighing the prices we’d get for them in a rushed sale, or the social utility of a city owning its infrastructure – then the government can force the council to flog them using their “emergency powers”. Emergency powers that they haven’t seen fit to use to break the insurance deadlock, or to alleviate the suffering of the people worst hit out East, but could be used fund a white elephant monument to Brownlee’s egotistical stubbornness.

This is like selling the company van so the boss can buy a flash motorbike; meanwhile, the boys at the building site have to move their stuff from job to job using a wheelbarrow. It’s economic idiocy, and political expediency, from a government that continues to mismanage the recovery whilst simultaneously relying on it to turn around the government books. Like the fantastically bearded gentlemen in the new tv commercial, it’s time to take John Key’s mate asset sales into a quiet corner of the room and say “yeah, nah”, until he finally gets the message.

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