The Maritime Union is warning Christchurch to “be wary” of privatisation of local assets.
Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says ongoing uncertainty about the future of the Port of Lyttelton is not good for the port or for Christchurch.
Mr Harrison was commenting on
recent media reports where mixed signals were given about asset sales and it appeared some leaders were backtracking on pre-election commitments.
He says local body leaders need to be upfront about their agenda and not pass the buck.
Mr Harrison says comments that decisions will be made after a “strategic review” is completed should be viewed sceptically.
“This is extremely concerning as privatisation agendas are often camouflaged by external consultants softening up the public to achieve pre-determined outcomes.”
Mr Harrison says the Union is currently campaigning to keep the Ports of Auckland in public ownership, and the same arguments applied to Port of Lyttelton.
“Ports are important drivers for the local economy as they facilitate trade, and we need to see them as strategic assets not cash cows.”
Mr Harrison says advocates of privatisation downplay potential risks.
He says port privatisation to an outside operator will hand monopoly power to a business that will exploit its market position.
“One key issue caused by port privatisation in Australia is heavy price hikes hitting port users – then being passed on to local industry and consumers.”
He says asset sales of the type proposed in Christchurch are used to provide a short term “sugar hit” but do not address long term financial constraints faced by local Government.
The Maritime Union is working with other unions and community groups to keep local, public ownership of Council owned assets in Christchurch.