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No asset sales for Christchurch

Christchurch City Council should not be forced into selling its strategic assets, the Green Party said today.

Today's report into Christchurch City Council's finances by Cameron Partners shows that the Council is facing a substantial financial hole, with debt peaking in 2019 when its borrowing requirements rise to meet the needs of debt and the anchor projects. The report promotes asset sales or 'asset optimisation' as a solution to the Council's substantial funding requirement.

"A firesale of Council assets involving the sale or partial sale of strategic assets such as Orion and Christchurch Airport is not in Christchurch's interests," said Green Party Christchurch spokesperson Eugenie Sage today.

"The strong push to sell off or sell down Council assets in the report by investment bankers Cameron Partners is not surprising given the company or its principals involvement in asset sales."

Cameron Partners' founder, Rob Cameron, facilitated the sale of major state asset Telecom in the late 1980s and led the Capital Markets Development Taskforce in 2009 that proposed the most recent round of asset sales. Cameron Partners also bid to be the Government's state asset sale advisor in 2011.

"Selling the city's strategic assets to fill the financial hole does not have the long-term interests of the city at heart," said Ms Sage.

"Today's report shows there is an urgent need for the Government to step up and show flexibility towards the City Council.

"There needs to be a genuine partnership in applying the cost-sharing agreement between the Crown and the City Council in light of this information about the Council's financial position and the hole in its budget from 2019.

"The Government needs to look at what is best for the city as a whole and be flexible about the need, timing of, scale, and cost of some of the anchor projects.

"Easing the pressure on the Council to fund the anchor projects will mean more scope for helping the City Council with priority projects in rebuilding community infrastructure," said Ms Sage.