The Watchdog

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Corporate ventriloquist ‘dummy’ John Banks says what his spin doctors tell him people want to hear?

Banks ‘nervous’ over 35 year deal, but missed meeting
By Edward Gay
4:02 PM Friday Aug 6, 2010

Supercity mayoral contender John Banks failed to show up to a committee meeting where his council voted to allow private companies to manage the town water supply for up to 35 years.

Auckland Mayor John Banks is running for the top Supercity position and said he would be “very nervous” about 35 year contracts at a debate on Tuesday.

Auckland City’s Finance and Strategy Committee voted on their submission to the Government’s Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill on June 16.

Mr Banks was not at the meeting.

The Committee chose to support the clause in the Bill which will allow multi-national companies to manage the town’s water supply for up to 35 years.

An amendment to oppose the change was narrowly lost by four votes to three.

Speaking from the streets of North Shore, where he was door knocking this morning, Mr Banks said he could not attend every committee meeting.

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“I am not an apologist for every decision taken at Auckland City,” Mr Banks said.

He said any decision taken by an Auckland City Council committee will carry no weight once the Supercity Council comes into being on November 1.

“I am not interested in rich and powerful third party contractors wanting to come to Auckland to engage with the water reticulater. I am absolutely committed to public ownership of the reticulater,” Mr Banks said.

He said a 35 year contract would undermine the “sovereignty” of the water utility.

“In other words, I lease my house to you for 35 years. I’ll see you in 35 years.

“In 10 years it is starting to fall down. In 20 years you’re not paying the rent and in five years time I can’t get rid of you and the asset is falling over.

“I’m a business man and I’ve been around too long to get dragged into the net that we would get value for money from a rich and powerful foreign national. I’m going to take a lot of convincing,” Mr Banks said.

Auckland City Councilor Richard Northey voted for the amendment and said it was disappointing Mr Banks was not there.

“But I think his opposition to this is new because he would have raised it with the staff and his colleagues and he didn’t,” Mr Northey said.

Manukau Mayor Len Brown said he voted against the legislation when it came before his council.

“My council has delivered no increase in water rates with public ownership of our water company. That’s why I do not support privatising water or signing away control on a 35 year lease.

“I will not flip-flop on this. I will look after Auckland’s public water company if I am elected mayor,” Mr Brown said.

The amendment put forward at June 16 Finance and Strategy meeting.

The amendment was voted down.

‘We strongly oppose the proposed changes to section 136 under clause 31 of the Bill. We consider that extending the maximum term for contracts relating to the operation of a water service will enable private operators to gain greater control and profit-making over a longer period of time, which will enable private providers to provide more costly, unaccountable, profit-gouging, inefficient services which would be largely outside democratic control and examination.’

By Edward Gay | Email Edward


August 6, 2010 - Posted by | Auckland Mayoral campaign, Fighting water privatisation in NZ

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