Council sells-out pensioners

Today’s decision by the Auckland City Council to proceed with the sell-off of pensioner and other council housing is a betrayal of the trust placed in their elected representatives by the people of Auckland, Green MP Keith Locke said today.

“This is less of a sell-off than a sell-out,” said Mr Locke. “This heartless decision is an abdication of the council’s responsibility to the pensioners and low-income people of Auckland.”

The Green Party has supported forthcoming law changes that make it clear that pensioner housing is a strategic asset and wide community consultation is needed on any moves to dispose of such assets. Government has announced that these requirements will apply from April this year and will cover the period of the Auckland sell-off.

“The Court of Appeal has said that consultation requires an open mind,” said Mr Locke. “But it stretches credibility that the city council approached the consultation process with an open mind, given that they had already decided to sell the housing before the Government’s announcement forced them into actually talking to the people they intended selling-out.

“We will work in the new Parliament to check that the Auckland City Council really has complied with its obligations to consult properly and with its obligations for financial prudence.”

Mr Locke observed that the Council’s perfunctory consultation means it may be open to legal action to reverse the decision once the new Local Government Act is passed later this year.

“If necessary, the Green Party will ask Government to stiffen the legislation to ensure that the vulnerable in our society are not made the pawns of the right wing’s privatisation power games.”