Thursday, 9 February 2012

We Can Work It Out

Two interesting patsy questions in two days in parliament.
Yesterday a question about rates rises, with a side of "what changed since 2002?"
Today a similar question about increases in local authority debt levels, coincidentally also using 2002 as a base year.
Coincidence?  I don't think so.  It's much more likely the government is beginning the framing process for a round of further privatisation, this time in the local government area.  Like a lot of the right wing agenda, the logic is mind-numbingly simplistic, and inaccurate.  Here's how it will work:

  • rates have risen faster than inflation.
  • debt has also risen.
  • therefore councils must sell assets to reduce debt and keep rates rises down.

Too simple by half, but it makes sense if you don't think about it.
The reasons rates, and debt, rose since 2002 is only partially due to the rewritten Local Government Act.  It's also to do with a long build-up of deferred maintenance, and poor service delivery.  It was helped along with generally increasing affordability of rates rises due to what was referred to as "a healthy and growing economy", something that had been sadly lacking in the previous decade (1992 to 2002) due to the efforts of the National government of 1990 - 1999.
But as long as none of the other parties in parliament notice (and they didn't seem to, no supplementaries were asked by anyone except the National MP who asked the primary question), the government will carry on their merry way down the road to privatisation.  You heard it here first.

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