Matt McCarten on politics

Matt McCarten is a Herald on Sunday political columnist

Matt McCarten: Auckland's riches to be handed to corporate cronies

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Hide's antics over Auckland bear scrutiny. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Hide's antics over Auckland bear scrutiny. Photo / Mark Mitchell

In 1984 the founders of the Act Party, who were then embedded in the David Lange Government, carried out an economic coup resulting in the sovereignty of our economy being handed to our corporate elites. I would have thought, after the mess created by them, the likes of Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson would be apologising from prison cells rather than having another go.

These villains are up to their old tricks again and now want three-quarters of our city assets given to a bunch of their corporate allies appointed by Act leader Rodney Hide and first-term list MP Stephen Joyce. The new mayor and council will play with the remaining titbit.

Interestingly, Hide is using the same tactics employed by the founder of Act, Douglas, when he was Lange's brain: Whip up a sense of crisis, create self-imposed unrealistic timelines and then blame the other politicians for the confusion. Then claim "there is no alternative" but to take the decision-making out of the hands of elected politicians and appoint your corporate mates to take over everything.

Be under no illusion; a coup is underway that will put the power in Auckland in the hands of a faceless corporate bureaucracy before we even get to vote in elections.

Hide's plan is to set up the system where eventually these appointees can sell off the juicy, money-making parts of our assets to their allies and leave the dross for the ratepayers.

The new misnamed council-controlled organisations Hide has created will control our city's wealth without having to consult the citizens; they can and will ignore the newly elected city leaders; they are mandated to meet in secret without having to provide agendas or minutes of their meetings.

According to Hide this is to save costs. The arrogance and contempt towards Auckland's citizens that we'd swallow this nonsense is instructive about the thought processes that go on inside his head.

This contempt matches Joyce's gloating comments to an adoring audience at a Northern Employers and Manufacturing luncheon this week that he and Hide have no choice but to appoint their business mates to these CCOs.

Joyce, in his stand-up comic routine, quipped that if Hide and he let elected leaders in Auckland recommend appropriate people for these roles they'd dither around and still not have a decision by 2013.

But anyone who knows anything about governance and management knows if that was the problem you'd merely set timelines for decisions and people would then meet them.

I think this dishonesty is only a smokescreen.

Thankfully Aucklanders aren't buying into it. Even Hide's political allies at local level are distancing themselves. I assume that's why John Key's fix-it man, Joyce, has become Hide's minder.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce boss Michael Barnett, now a candidate for the new council, and mayoral candidate John Banks are fudging on some of the more extreme parts of Hide's agenda as they sense the mood of Aucklanders turning.

People are waking up to the reality that two politicians with no public mandate are ramming through a power grab at the expense of the citizenry.

Hide and Joyce are counting on the people they appoint to control our new city's assets to be so ensconced by the October city elections that the new mayor and city leaders accept the regime as a fait accompli.

The best way we can stop that is ensuring none of the candidates aligned with Act or National get elected in the October elections. That's the only way Hide and his ilk will get the message.

Neither Hide nor Joyce would be doing this without Key's nod. Maybe Key's supposed nickname, the smiling assassin, has some truth to it after all. The sinister antics over Auckland that Key is endorsing show a disturbing inclination to ride roughshod over democracy in the interests of ideology.

We need to be vigilant.

- Herald on Sunday

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