Something called the productivity commission has put out a report advocating changes to the way New Zealand’s ports and airports are operated.
It’s a dishonest document.
Although it says that our ports need a big shake-up, the report admits that it hasn’t done any research to back up its stand.
It says it’s all about efficiency and productivity, but the commission gives no evidence of inefficiency. That’s because the real purpose of the exercise has to be hidden. It’s about putting privatization of our ports and airports on the agenda.
Instead of facts based on observation, the report asks a lot of leading questions. They’re phrased in a code which its ‘free trading’ mates can translate.
There are 88 pages of questions. They boil down to:
Are present labour practices inflexible? In other words, say yes. Get rid of any union presence in our ports and casualize labour.
Is the present public ownership of ports efficient? As it stands, councils have to consider four outcomes. These are economic, environmental, social and cultural. But exporters and importers need to move products as quickly and cheaply as possible. So should owners of ports have to worry about that environmental, social and cultural stuff?
Are there too many ports now?
That’s a yes. The answer will be to have one big hub port, probably either Auckland or Tauranga, and not fuss about the rest.
Would one vertically integrated operation work better than the present mass of small, competing ports and competing owners? How can we compete on the global market, where costs are cut relentlessly?
That answer’s obvious. By selling public ownership to one big outfit to run the whole show, from farm gate to consumer.
That’ll almost certainly be a big foreign transnational with no mandate to worry about exploitative labour practices, dangerous traffic movements, vibration, noise - or any of the potential hazards of transport - with no checks by New Zealand authorities.
The report is meant to grease the way to privatizing our ports and abandoning the ones the foreign masters don’t think will make them enough bucks.
That’s why the language is coded. The government has no mandate to sell off more public assets. There’s no demand to send even more of our wealth offshore. New Zealanders don’t support closing down regional ports or using our ports and airports to boost profits for foreign corporations.
It’s not just transport that’ll be affected. If this so-called productivity and efficency is enacted, we can say goodbye to more of our ability to clean our environment through socially responsive planning to create greener transport or well-planned coastal towns. It’ll be us versus them.
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