Monday, May 31, 2010

Water (itself) won't be privatized, says Rodney

Cartoon from The Dominion Post of May 7, 2010. Commenting on this issue, Sue Kedgley of the Green Party said on May 5:

Every New Zealander should be worried about Rodney Hide’s latest bill on local government — which will allow our water supplies to be controlled and managed by private companies for 35 years, and will force Councils to focus only on ill-defined ‘core business’ (which excludes, amongst other things, the environment).

Multinational corporations are scouring the world, looking for water supplies they can take over and run for a profit. They know that water is going to the be the oil of the 21st century — a scarce resource that wars will be fought over — and they are keen to get their hands on as much of it as possible.

Now they have New Zealand in their sights, aided and abetted by Rodney Hide and the Key government.

This Bill will allow the management of our water resources to be transferred to private corporations, and will transform the provision of water services from a public good to a source of private profit. It will also transform water from something that is essential to human life, into a commodity to be traded for profit.

Once a Council has entered into one of the 35 year public private partnerships, the driving influence on all decisions relating to water will be the return to the shareholder, not the public interest.

Many of these sorts of public private partnerships or water privatisations, have proven disastrous overseas. They have resulted in soaring profits for shareholders — and soaring price rises for consumers. Instead of upgrading infrastructure, companies use the savings to maintain and increase their dividends, so they have resulted in widespread under-investment in water infrastructure (as happened to rail when Faye Richwhite took over its running).

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