Joe Hendren

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Gary Moore has no mandate to sell Lyttelton Port

The Christchurch City Council (though its assets company CCHL) plans to sell off 49.9% of the Port of Lyttleton to Hong Kong based multinational Hutchison Port Holdings. As the Lyttleton Port of Christchurch is currently a public company the council has to first first buy up the 31% of the shares it does not own.

But don't be fooled by the spin - Mayor Gary Moore is only buying up the shares so he can then sell 49.9% of the port to Hutchison. The end result is privatisation - less of the port will be in public ownership and control.

LPC will be "restructured" with CCHL and HPC starting a spin off company to run the port operations. CCHL plan to sell 50.1% of the shares in the new company to Hutchison, giving the multinational majority control of the operations of Lyttleton Port.

The claims of Gary Moore and his cronies that CCHL will keep "control" of the company are at best misleading. As for Moore claim on local radio that Christchurch citizens would be in control of everything they see when they look over the hill - this is simply not true, as can be seen from the following passage in the Christchurch City Council's takeover offer for the 31% shareholding it is attempting to buy.

"CCHL and HPHL will restructure LPC and CCHL will create a new operating company that will acquire all the non-land operating assets of LPC and operate LPC's business. CCHL will initially own 100% of the shares in that new company and then sell 50.01% of those shares to HPHL (or its affiliate).

Moore's proposal to sell of the port company is a complete reversal of the mandate on which he was elected. It has emerged that CCHL have been working on this deal for around two years - yet there was NOTHING said about selling the port during the last local body election campaign. Moore has no mandate.

Ironically, merely a year ago, Moore was in The Press welcoming a $140m dividend from CCHL and explaining how the public ownership of assets such as the port contributed to the city.
“It is good news for ratepayers because the money the council gets from CCHL means rates are up to 18 per cent lower than what they would be”, he said. “It shows the council was right not to sell the assets when people like the Business Roundtable called us the People’s Republic of Christchurch.” (The Press, 14/03/05, '$140m for CCC coffers')

You said it well a year ago Gary, so what has changed? Where is your mandate? Lyttelton Port Company made nearly $12m of profit last year, so why do you plan to give away our dividends from the additional 18% stake that will be in private hands at the conclusion of this shonky shady deal?

I am currently involved in the Keep Our Port Public Campaign (KOPP), a very promising "joint venture" of local unionists, CAFCA, Alliance members, Greens and other activists, so expect some more posts on this issue in the next few weeks.

Tags: Politics, Lyttelton, Corporates, Hutchison, Privatisation, Christchurch


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