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Another asset sale lie

Written By: - Date published: 8:10 am, April 14th, 2012 - 99 comments
Categories: assets, john key, national, privatisation - Tags: , ,

Recall the Nats’ promises on the tests for proceeding with asset sales (“mixed ownership model”):

The Government’s five tests for proceeding

The Government has decided to pursue extending the mixed ownership model after being assured the following five tests can be met:

  • The Government will maintain a majority shareholding stake by owning more than 51 per cent of each company.
  • New Zealand investors will be at the front of the queue for shareholdings, and the Government is confident of widespread and substantial New Zealand share ownership.
  • The companies involved will provide good opportunities for investors.
  • The capital freed up will be used on behalf of taxpayers to fund new public assets and thereby reducing the pressure on the Government to borrow.
  • The Government is satisfied that industry-specific regulations will adequately protect New Zealand consumers.

Surprise surprise, they’re now trying to break the first bullet point promise:

Loophole allows sale of over 49pc

A loophole in the law covering partially privatised state assets will allow much more than 49 per cent of the value of the companies to be privatised, providing the extra shares do not carry voting rights.

The Government has pledged to retain 51 per cent of the four energy companies it has put on the block, starting with Mighty River Power later this year.

But a “minor policy decision” by ministers, revealed in a Cabinet paper released last week, shows that the 51 per cent limit, as well as the 10 per cent cap on individual shareholdings, will apply only to voting shares.

The Cabinet has agreed “the 10 per cent and 51 per cent restrictions should be calculated on the basis of voting rights rather than the total percentage of all securities held (including those with non-voting rights)”.

The wording in the Mixed Ownership Model Bill, which has had its first reading in Parliament, would ensure control of the companies remains with the Government.

But it would not prevent the companies – with shareholding ministers’ approval – issuing or selling non-voting shares, diluting the taxpayers’ slice of the dividends and profits the companies generate.

It isn’t a “loophole”, it’s simple a lie. The distinction between voting and non-voting shares is just a smokescreen. National clearly promised to retain 51% of the income from these public assets. Here’s a Treasury document quoting Bill English on mixed ownership:

“Government will maintain 51% of companies, retaining control and getting dividends”

And here’s a Nat press release:

Under mixed ownership, the Government is foregoing up to 49 per cent of the future income from the companies involved.

I’m sure there are many other sources – all the promises were about retaining 51% of ownership and income. So add this latest move to the long list of Nat broken promises, withheld information, and sheer incompetence over asset sales.

Winston Peters sets out further concerns about this latest development, and Labour are planning a new campaign for a Citizens Initiated Referendum on asset sales. Hey Peter Dunne – are you going to vote for this latest lie?

99 comments on “Another asset sale lie”

  1. RedBaron 1

    And when Peter Dunne finally retires and walks down any street in this country he calls “home”, eight out of ten of all the people walking towards him will really, really dislike him.

    Some legacy from a lifetime in parliament.

    Has he thought of retiring now so his electorate can have another vote?

    • dunne is a sellout who has been to more parties than paris hilton. at least with national m.p.’s you know what you are getting with them, but dunne flip-flops to whichever way the power is. his legacy(?) of good governance could be written in crayon, on the back of a stamp. Im sure the good people of ohariu are putting real pressure on him to finally do the right thing in this, his last term in parliament.

  2. Treetop 2

    Sadly it is beginning to pan out that 100% of any dividend share will be forfeited. Talk about playing Russian roulette with money making SOEs.

  3. captain hook 3

    awwwwww be nice to them.
    they will complain if you tell the truth.
    they need the money for their overseas trips and hotel bills so they can complete themselves.

  4. jack 4

    Key is showing his true colours. I can see why he has earned his reputation as the smiling assassin. I can see him smiling and waving to kiwis as he leaves this country in total ruin heading off to Hawaii or back to Merryil Lynch in New York.

  5. Matt 5

    Hairdo Dunne keeps saying he’s been consistent in his support for asset sales, but the terms of the asset sales are now revealed to have nothing to do with how they were portrayed. So, Petey, how’s that consistency?

    • This seems to be a clear commitment:

      The National-led government has agreed during this term of Parliament to adopt and implement the following broad principles, policies and priorities advanced by United Future:

      - Introduce statutory limits on the sale of public assets to no more than 49% of shareholding to private interests including limits on the extent of single entity ownership

      http://www.unitedfuture.org.nz/confidence-and-supply-agreement/

      That should mean any type of shareholding, so I think the “loophole” needs some clarification as to whether it complies with this or not. If it doesn’t comply then it would seem to be a breach of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

      • Herodotus 5.1.1

        Pete2 – here is a great opportunity for the other Pete1 (& allow UF to (perhaps) live beyond 2014) to save face regarding the asset sales, and to clearly display fortitiude, character and to be seen acting on principles.
        If this statement is true, that Nationals policy at the election was intended to sell more than 49% of the dividend attributing shares (and voting) then we the voter (those who were apathetic or passive topwards Asset Sales) were misled. Some of us who were totally opposed to the plan fortunately were not. As all infomation released showed that the intention was 49% of shares attributed to receiving dividends.
        Such weasling out with a loophole (that does not exist) is about as bad as politics can be and should be opposed by all. UF maybe the only one that can make a real difference. Please be seen to do so.

        • Pete George 5.1.1.1

          I’ll find out what I can and if it does breach the 49% agreement I’ll see what I might be able to do about it.

          • r0b 5.1.1.1.1

            Good for you Pete. Let us know what happens.

          • bbfloyd 5.1.1.1.2

            you;re gonna have to step up the waffle rather heavily to get out of this one….. as if you have any say at all peter pan……

            or should i say, big pete is gonna have to do some serious waffling over this latest revelation…. what sort of waffle will it take to convince us that he had no idea this “loophole” was in the legislation from the start??

            starting to look veeery smelly old bean…..

          • mickysavage 5.1.1.1.3

            Introduce statutory limits on the sale of public assets to no more than 49% of shareholding to private interests including limits on the extent of single entity ownership

            Looks pretty clear Petey. So will you get into Pete1′s ear about it?

            • Reagan Cline 5.1.1.1.3.1

              More information required.
              A shareholder owns 51% of the shares in a company, this means if they vote against a resolution at the annual meeting or a special meeting the resolution does not pass – correct ?
              So the directors decide to raise capital by issuing new ordinary shares (not preference shares, which do not carry voting rights) does this require shareholder approval ?
              If it does the 51% shareholder could vote against this, or can it insist that 51% percent of the new shares be bought by it ? Surely not !!
              So the directors propose raising capital by issuance of preference shares (no voting rights) why would the 51% shareholder vote against this ?
              The other options would be to issue bonds – could be attractive if the Government was a 51% shareholder – right ?
              Or the directors could sell an asset and reinvest ot they could borrrow without issuing bonds.
              How do State Owned Assets raise capital now ? Can they get the favourable terms available to the NZ government ?
              Some really smart and on-to-it outfit might like a big slice of Mighty River in exchange for bringing expertise to the company that would enable it to grow and become even more profitable.
              At the moment such an outfit would not even consider coming to the party.

              • Pascal's bookie

                I don’t really see how any more info is required.

                The coalition agreement says that there will be a statutory requirement that no more the 49% of the co’s will be sold.

                Whether or not they have voting rights, a statutory loophole that allows sale of equity in the co’s above 49% is a breach.

                • Reagan Cline

                  It’s about possible sceanarios after they are sold.
                  How will Mighty River raise further capital without weakening the governments’s 51% shareholding ?
                  Mighty River raises capital now by issuing bonds, but because the bondholders have no voting rights they have no say in how the company is run.

                • Reagan Cline

                  It is about the options for raising capital AFTER part of Mighty River is sold (if it is sold).
                  How is the government’s 51% shareholding preserved if new ordinary shares are issued ?
                  Investors receiving income from bonds and preference shares have no voting rights – so how can they threaten the government’s 51% voting right ?

                  • They can by jumping up and down and saying that as non voting shareholders the directors have to respect their rights and cannot act in a way that discriminates against them.

                    Quite easy.  It is a whole can of worms which the legal profession can feast on for years to come.  Better not to have them at all and retain the assets in public ownership.

                • Pascal's bookie

                  Yes, the MOM model is a dog, put together purely to make an ideological desire for privatisation politically possible.

                  The fact that the political promises they have made, have stupid consequences, is a problem for the government.

                  But the MOMs can still issue bonds without giving up equity. It’s more costly in the short to medium term perhaps, but equity isn’t lost.

                  • Reagan Cline

                    Yes I get that it is a dog. So why would private shares in a MOM company be more attractive than shares in a wholly private company ?

                    The governemnt majority shareholder will stop it going bust maybe) ? How have MOM companies overseas performed ?

                    I agree wIth you that the biggest issue in NZ is private versus public.

                    None of the big poliitcal parties have a black and white attitude to this.

                    The thought of privatising evrything scares me shitless, but at the same time, I believe there is room for improved service and efficiency in hospitals and maybe in other publically owned organisations..

                    How do you get publically owned organisations to be more customer friendly ? Firms that fail to deliver in private go bust – unless they are a monopoly.

                    The old publice service ethic and a lifetime career with a good super package at the end might make for more efficiency – or it could have the opposite effect I suppose

                    Hard to embed an ethic of working efficiently and effectively for the public good when people are coming and going from private to public sector jobs and back again.

                    • McFlock

                      Oh please – that’s the lie that tories have used for decades, and you’ve swallowed it.
                                
                      The main factor in customer service levels isn’t public vs private ownership, it’s the priority list managers are given from their bosses (be they directors or ministers).
                           
                       

                    • RedLogix

                      Agreed McF.

                      I’ve strong experience in both the private and public sector. The idea that the private sector is somehow more efficient is a complete and utter myth.

                      The two sectors are better at different things. The private sector for instance would run a lousy police force, while the state has no business in corner dairies.

                      The difference between success and failure in both cases is exactly the same; the quality of leadership.

                    • Vicky32

                      I believe there is room for improved service and efficiency in hospitals

                      In what way particularly? I’ve had the dubious pleasure of having been misdiagnosed this year, and spending some time in Auckland Hospital, and my son is a cardiothoracic nurse at Welly Hospital. I have found no deficits and deficiencies in either place! Aside from one grumpy receptionist, everyone I met was helpful, efficient and pleasant.

                • rosy

                  Does this mean that theoretically a company can buy 10 percent of voting rights shares + 100% the non-voting rights shares? Is there anything to stop that sort of scenario?

                  • Lanthanide

                    “Does this mean that theoretically a company can buy 10 percent of voting rights shares + 100% the non-voting rights shares? Is there anything to stop that sort of scenario?”

                    Theoretically there would be nothing stopping that, under this proposal.

                    However if there was some company that was dead-set on getting 100% of non-voting shares, then the price to buy the shares could (potentially) keep going up and up and up until they were no longer willing to buy 100% of them. Therefore it should be understood that it’s not just a desire to buy shares, but a desire to buy shares at a certain price. I’m sure if they sold 100% of non-voting shares for $1, then everyone would want to buy them; so because of the excess demand the price would go up.

                    • rosy

                      Thanks… although difficult there is the option of a share buy from a 10 percent holder of voting rights. The more that shareholder gets the less relevant the government voting rights in the face of that shareholder’s insistence for a particular path the company should take. Not much of a guarantee there.

              • The directors are under an imperative to act responsibly (read commercially).  This will mean that more often than not they probably would decide to issue shares presuming the numbers were right.

                But the income gradually disappears overseas as more and more shares are issued.  Control is actually not that important because of the commercial imperatives imposed on the directors. 

                • I don’t agree with the “disappears overseas” conjecture. Some shares will end in foreign ownership, but it is not an inevitable one way shift. There’s good reason to have confidence that many shares will remain in New Zealand ownership, a mix of private investors, the NZ Super fund and the many KiwiSaver investment schemes.

                  But I have a problem with the possibility that non-voting shares may dilute government ownership and break the 49% maximum pledges.

                  • Dividend income disappearing overseas has happened with every other privatization and I do not see why the current proposal will result in anything different.

                    But Petey issuing non voting shares will not “possibly” break the Government’s pledge, it will definitely break it.

                    Time for UF to man up.
                     

  6. Nick 6

    The legislatation also doesn’t contain any preferential options for New Zealander shareholders so there is another ‘loop hole’ there that will see the second bullet point on their list in danger.

    Not that it matters to them, I wish it mattered to Peter Dunne though.

  7. Foreign Waka 7

    Mr Key argued that Kiwis voted for asset sales via the last election. Kind of a first past the post thing he was clinging onto. However, these reports clearly show that this is NOT what kiwis voted for and would this not be question of an inquiry under constitutional law? I think that, given the changed circumstances a binding referendum should be held. When are all these people who proclaim to represent the public and take their money – thank you very much – going to stand up and be counted? Or would that break the ranks and we have been hoodwinked in many areas just not so “transparent”?

  8. Jim Nald 8

    It isn’t a “loophole”, it’s simple a lie.

    The first thing that came to mind when reading this is it is not a “loophole” but a “truth-hole” !

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      It’s the difference between what NACT want to do (sell off everything ASAP) and what they think they can get away with doing (selling off 49%).

  9. North 9

    This is standard, heights of cynicism, contemptible National tactics.

    Announce…….handle the fallout more or less……..announce or get caught going higher………acknowledge the extra fallout……..blame someone, anyone………back off to first position.

    “See how we listen, see how we consult. We always said we will not allow New Zealanders to become tenants in their own land !”

    All is well……..smile and wave.

    Next chapter, a bit further down the track: pull the shelved coup-de-grace on a public by then terrorised with threats of imminent national collapse. Bingo…….cracked it. The already rich are very, very much richer. We…….you got it, are demonstrably poorer.

    That said there is this possibility…….unrest not seen in New Zealand for well over 50 years. Remote ? Probably, but who knows how far treasonous Greed may be prepared to go ?

    • Anne 9.1

      there is this possibility…….unrest not seen in New Zealand for well over 50 years. Remote ?

      Not remote at all. Much more of the current NAct machinations aided and abetted by their business friends/acolytes and sooner or later it’s going to be a certainty.

  10. bbfloyd 10

    what i find most disturbing about this is not that united future has been exposed as complicit and dishonest… most knew that from the start…. and that the national party has been shown, once again, to be utterly untrustworthy……

    it is that it seems to have taken so many by complete surprise to find out just how untrustworthy the national party is…..

    where is this huge sandpit that people are burying their heads in??

  11. Well, there’s no surprises there that key and english are playing with policy,hoping no one
    will notice their tirany towards the tax payers of nz.
    Ombusdman please, these assets are strategic assets owned by the tax payers of nz
    and these clowns have no right to hock them off to overseas interests and their
    corporate mates,surely there should be a halt on these prepartations for sell off
    until a ruling on the full legality of a sale.

  12. Akldnut 12

    Smoke and mirrors again perhaps?

    “If we can move the focus off the initiale proposal of 49% sales onto selling an increased portion while still retaining control, the backlash of the latter will make the former more palitable.”

  13. Johnm 13

    John Key: paraphrase, I want to give New Zealanders more choice. Yeh! Like having no choice in their strategic energy assets being flogged off to make foreign wealth wealthier. He’s so on ideological auto pilot you can tell by that blank look in his eyes! Eventual objective a completely privatized state.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      That’s always been the goal of the rich and psychopathic and it fails every time resulting in bloody revolution.

  14. Tangled up in blue 14

    Loophole allows sale of over 49pc

    Is this being reported by any media outlet other than Stuff? Surely this can’t go under the radar?

  15. TJ 15

    *Sigh*

    One day this website will include an inkling of balance and have stories other than sensationalist drivel.

    The amendment is clearly to allow the companies to issue Preference shares or other non-voting shares to raise capital without having to go back to parliament. These are essentially debt instruments, can be issued by SOE’s currently and can have advantages over a traditional bond in that the ‘dividend’ (essentially just interest) can be in theory paid at the directors discretion.

    Kiwibank have $150m of these issued currently. If you follow the logic that these count towards the 51%, Kiwibank is only 77% ‘owned’ by the Government. That logic is just rubbish.

    • TJ 15.1

      *That should read 67%. 

    • Pascal's bookie 15.2

      You’d be better off arguing that they are ‘effectively debt instruments’, because the actual ‘essential’ nature of the transaction is a sale of equity, albiet with slighly fewer sticks in the bundle of ownership rights.

    • So what TJ.  National promised to retain majority ownership as a sop so they could try and mitigate the damage chat would be caused by a deeply unpopular policy.  The fact they are now resiling from this is their problem.

      If this was such a mundane issue as you describe they should not have promised not to do it. 

      • TJ 15.3.1

        So why, based on that logic, is there not an uproar that Kiwibank is only 67% government owned? There isn’t, because the logic is stupid.

        There will be effective majority ownership, but just as SOE’s can already do, the potential for the companies to issue preference shares (or other non-voting shares) will remain. 

        • Nick 15.3.1.1

          Why don’t National currently raise money from these energy assets this way instead of selling off voting shares? No legislation change needed, income if they need it and retain 100% control with all the pesky limitations and regulations of having shareholders?

          • TJ 15.3.1.1.1

            Because the idea is to release equity and ‘keep’ the funds for other investment or spending. Non-voting shares like preference shares are almost always callable at particular dates and therefore essentially ‘repaid’, like a bond. They also require continued servicing, with dividend rates usually fixed. 

            For the Government to do that via proxy through SOE’s would be silly – they might as well just issue Government bonds in their own name and at a lower rate. But that of course increases debt.

            It is simply another way of obtaining capital which an entity like Kiwibank desperately needs and the Energy companies once listed may also need.

            As I have noted, if you have a look at Kiwibank’s Balance sheet it has $460m of capital. $310m of that is (ultimately) owned by the Government. $150m is owned by Preference Share holders. These scary blighters could be from anywhere! And they are getting some of that ‘income’ from the SOE we all own! No – they are being compensated for providing much needed capital which I have no doubt is being put to good use, and allowing the bank to expand and make more money.

            Everyone is New Zealand is under the impression Kiwibank is wholly owned by the Government despite this. The reason is because implying non-voting shares infer “ownership” is ridiculous.

            • Draco T Bastard 15.3.1.1.1.1

              It is simply another way of obtaining capital which an entity like Kiwibank desperately needs and the Energy companies once listed may also need.

              It’s also a rather stupid one. Far better for the government just print the money that the SOEs need for expansion off set by increase in relevant taxes. Essentially, the people of NZ supplying the capital themselves with no interest charges on it.

              • TJ

                That was not the point of my comment. The merits of various funding alternatives is a whole different kettle of fish. If printing money were the answer life would be a whole lot more simple.

                The point I am trying to make is in relation to the actual post. Non-voting shares DO NOT equal ownership and Kiwibank is a perfect example of that.   

                • Draco T Bastard

                  If printing money were the answer life would be a whole lot more simple.

                  The printing of money happens every day – it’s just done by the private banks instead of the government. For some reason we’ve come to believe that private banks printing money is fine but not governments. Of course, if the government printed money they wouldn’t have to pay interest to the capitalists and the capitalists would actually have to produce value rather than being parasites on the community.

                  Non-voting shares DO NOT equal ownership…

                  They represent a claim that is not needed nor justified.

                  • TJ

                    Private banks can increase the circulation of money – but they can’t create it. But again – that’s an aside.

                    Obviously Kiwibank determined that the ‘claim’ was needed and justified. I guess we need to ensure these SOE’s don’t issue bonds once they are listed either then? They have a greater claim than any equity holder ever will. Just get the Government to print off a few million whenever they need it instead I suppose? 

                    Ownership is not all it’s cracked up to be, and doubly so if you can’t sell the equity, like the government in the case of SOE’s. Any unrealised gain is meaningless - it isn’t going to be able to pay debt. Dividends are the last thing to be paid, and dependant on various factors including profitability, cash position, expansion plans etc. 

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Private banks can increase the circulation of money – but they can’t create it.

                      They do it all the time – that’s the basic result of fractional reserve banking.

                      Obviously Kiwibank determined that the ‘claim’ was needed and justified.

                      It wasn’t if the government had acted correctly which it didn’t.

                      Ownership is not all it’s cracked up to be…

                      If it wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be then the capitalists wouldn’t be doing their damndest to buy out every hard state asset they can.

            • David 15.3.1.1.1.2

              “Everyone is New Zealand is under the impression Kiwibank is wholly owned by the Government despite this”.

              Thanks for the heads up, TJ: we thought we understood these things: now we see there are lots of ways of stripping private profits out of “public ownership”, under the radar. You create vast obligations to private sector actors, through debt (knew that) and various forms of equity (smartening up on that). Looking forward to the public education campaign you and yours will be mounting to tell the public this is is all good for them still owning their future, and benefitting from its profits!

    • David 15.4

      “These are essentially debt instruments”

      No, TJ, these are essentially equity instruments. The kind of duplicitous, ‘rubbish’ logic that can say black is white like this is EXACTLY what we are learning to expect from you guys.

      “In theory” the dividend can be paid at directors’ discretion’. Yeah right. That’s why people buy these shares, on the off chance the directors might pay a dividend. ^&*! NZ shares pay Huge dividends compared to anywhere else. Tell me a time when a major NZ utility has not paid a dividend to these kinds of equity holders?

      “essentially just interest” . To quote Ronald Reagan, “there he goes again”. The essence of something is what it really is. If it was interest, it would be essentially interest. If it is a dividend on an equity holding, it is essentially a share of the profits being paid to the entity investing in the company. DONT BS us like this, TJ, it only makes us respect you less. And know where to look next time you try it.

  16. Aesop 16

    What’s hilarious is that the media are only catching onto this now.

    Do they not read the Hansard of important speeches in the House?

    Winston spoke out about this loophole in the legislation on the 8th of March.

    Why the hell does everyone just denounce what he has to say as drivel – he’s the one truly leading the charge on this.

    Goes to show what a shambles Labour are in if they can’t even thoroughly read through bills before speaking about them.

  17. captain hook 17

    they cant lie straight in bed.

  18. rod 18

    Will Blind Trusts be allowed to buy shares in SOE’s? just asking

  19. Reagan Cline 19

    Mc Flock. Yes, I can see that.

    At the same time, my personal experience in private and public (I work part time in both) has lead me to the opinion that they operate in very different ways.

    I have talked to others in my situation and we independantly agree that we get more done in private. The IT system is faster, there ar fewer steps in the process of getting work to us and from us to the the user, there are fewer staff, the staff can each do more and have more initiative, the clients react more often to poor service in private, there are fewer meetings and in private I know exactly the manager to see if I have an issue and it is usually sorted quicker and better.

    In public it is a matter of working around the system to get things done. In private I don’t have to do this.

    The other thing I have noticed is that in public, the work is allocated and rosters are drawn up so that each person gets exactly the same amount of work – this does not happen to the same extent in public and means that those who are happiest with a big workload are underemployed and those who prefer a lighter workload are stressed {the public sector manager told me that the basis for this was “fairness”).

    Maybe those tories are on to something.

    • McFlock 19.1

      Nope, they’re not.
            
      Don’t go confusing the quality of the manager with the type of the employer. And don’t confuse “not being able to see the reason for the procedure” with “the procedure is unneeded”.

    • Blue 19.2

      My experience is that the private sector simply penny-pinches on everything that would improve the business, and wastes money on everything that won’t.

      I can’t imagine which companies you have found so wonderful. It’s usually a case of old, slow computers (for everyone except the managers, who always have new ones), overly complex IT systems (bought off the shelf and not modified much), undertrained staff (training costs money) and problems going unsolved for years because fixing them would (you guessed it) cost money, so everyone just finds ways to work around them.

      On the other hand, there is always plenty of money to waste on things that management deem to be important. Such as their salaries. And their ‘leadership’ conferences (which always require travel and fancy locations). And paying people to dream up ‘corporate vision and values’ and dragging their hapless staff to meetings to indoctrinate them.

      Whenever someone raves about how wonderfully efficient the private sector is I always wonder what they’re smoking.

      • Draco T Bastard 19.2.1

        +1

        Matches my experience in private corporations as well. Funnily enough, my experience in public service is the exact opposite of Reagan Cline’s as well.

    • David 19.3

      “we get more done in private. The IT system is faster, there ar fewer steps in the process of getting work to us and from us to the the user, there are fewer staff, the staff can each do more and have more initiative, the clients react more often to poor service in private, there are fewer meetings and in private”

      One of the essential elements of market oriented governance in any organisation is that you basically have fewer (but sharper) accountabilities to fewer people. You have more executive freedom, and you take executive shortcuts, hide behind commercial secrecy, manage public input via expensive spin marketeers, and dont have things scrutinised via anything much democratic. You bs shareholders, give top executives powers and huge rewards and incentives sucked straight from profits to get things done and empower them vs boards and shareholders. Public stakeholders you have a whole division of managers and fancy paid lawyers and lobbyists to ‘manage relations’ with. And you do little PR gimic things, like sponsoring the local rugby team or parents accommodation at hospital, while your net contribution to children’s wellbeing is often negative. You manage accountabilities by restricting them, via narrow output objectives and KPIs: wider issues including social impact or labour relations dont get a seat at the top table.

      I can see the possible gains, in terms of getting what you think is right today done tomorrow. But lets come clean on the losses: as these modes of governance have permeated public sector management too (via NPM etc), we have lost a lot too. And private management of privatised assets in NZ, on past form?? hmm.

    • tc 19.4

      My experiences, as a 25 year IT veteran is private industry is just as bad as public. cost cutting, outsourcing and complex off the self systems such as SAP are universal. Before they modify them and multiply the cost of ownership to staggering levels.

      What a pointless diversion, focus on the core issue, ownership of strategic assets, dividend income and return on investment. IT systems are unnecessarily complex and poorly managed all in the name of ITIL and governance, a couple of consulting gravy trains across private and public before people and politics get to them and F them up some more.

  20. Balanced View 20

    You can only talk about your own experiences Flocky. My experience has been the same as Reagans.

    • McFlock 20.1

      Colour me giving a shit. 
           
      All I’m saying is that the quality of individual managers is not determined by who signs their paycheques. I have encountered very able public servants, and idiot private sector customer relations / managers. You guys are the ones damning the entire public service because of your own anecdotal experience (no doubt subjectively coloured by your imbalance).
        
      I’m saying look at the wider context of policies and don’t just pick Business Roundtable propaganda as a basis for recommending ownership models of nationally-essential public services and infrastructure.

      • Balanced View 20.1.1

        Apologies Flocky, my comment related to Reagans last comment only, and wasn’t a comment on individuals found in either operation, just general observations in regards to the overall running of the businesses.
        I also agree with you, I’ve come across far more “muppet” managers in private enterprise.

        • McFlock 20.1.1.1

          Now tell me how you can make general comments criticising the “overall running” of an organisation but in no way malign the reputations of the individuals in it. 
                
           

          • Balanced View 20.1.1.1.1

            Must you find a reason to disagree with everything?
            I have found that public offices are over resourced, so as a result, inefficient. Not really anything to do with anyone in particular, except perhaps those at the top that willingly provide the funding for it.

            • felix 20.1.1.1.1.1

              Awww, did someone compare two of your statements and ask you to explain the disparity?

              There there. Poor little troll.

            • McFlock 20.1.1.1.1.2

              Basically, non-committal or self-contradictory waffle really pisses me off.
                         
              That sort of United Future habit of leaving people with the idea of what one said, but if we actually read the specific words it means nothing.

              • Balanced View

                And this relates to……..?

                • McFlock

                  Most of your comments.

                • fender

                  Firestone can fix both your alignment and ballance problems mate. But see a specialist for the stuck in first gear problem. And the windscreens filthy.

                • Balanced View

                  Very clever, both of you. But I guess you had nothing else to come back with seeing as my comment was neither non-committal or self-contradictory.

                  • fender

                    non-committal: “Not really anything to do with anyone in particular”
                    Wof’s expired.

                  • felix

                    I’m delighted to learn that your comment was neither non-committal or self-contradictory.

                    Because that means this time, instead of diverting and deflecting, you’ll have no trouble answering McFlock’s question.

                  • McFlock
                     
                     

                    BV, you said your experience with the public service was the same as Reagan’s “last comment only” (comment 19 at that stage). Reagan complained of (among other things) slow IT systems, cumbersome procedures, and staff who took ages to respond. I.e. not just the public service in general.
                       
                    Within a couple of comments you’re saying these problems are caused by the public service being “over resourced”. But then you needed to make that slide because even you could see that any other interpretation of “wasn’t a comment on individuals found in either operation, just general observations in regards to the overall running of the businesses” reads as self-contradictory waffle.
                        
                    You’re a joke.
                        
                     

                    • Balanced View

                      On it’s own perhaps, but I thought you might have applied the context of Reagan’s comment that it had applied to.
                      Don’t beat yourself up over it, I made the same error earlier in not reading back to the beginning of your thread with Reagan.

                    • felix

                      Pathetic.

                      “Apologies Flocky, my comment related to Reagans last comment only”

                      You’re so transparent BV. You’re not fooling anyone.

                    • McFlock

                      “My experience has been the same as Reagans.”
                        is qualified to
                      “my comment related to Reagans last comment only”
                       and now becomes
                      “I thought you might have applied the context of Reagan’s comment that it had applied to”
                                    
                      Got that – you were referring “only” to comment 19 when I address the broader issue,  but includes probably the entire thread as “context” when I criticise what you specifically wrote.

                    • Balanced View

                      Nope, only applies to Reagan’s comment at 19. I hadn’t, and still haven’t read anything between the two of you before then.

                    • McFlock

                      So your experience of individual staff who are slow returning calls was the result of them being over resourced and you in no way would caste aspertions on their individual performance?

                    • Balanced View

                      “Slow at returning calls” I didn’t agree to that statement.

                    • McFlock

                      Just following the “context” of the comment, dude. 
                          
                      So these benefits of the private sector from comment 19 are because the public sector is overresourced, and doesn’t involve implied criticism of individuals:

                      the staff can each have more initiative,
                      the clients react more often to poor service in private,
                      if I have an issue it is usually sorted quicker and better.

                       

                    • felix

                      Instead of denying one phrase at a time for the rest of the night, how about you make an unequivocal statement of exactly what you do mean.

                      Any reason you can’t?

                    • Balanced View

                      I think that any reasonable person reading this thread would have no problem in understanding my position.
                      It’s only when bored individuals beginning nit picking and attempting to find discrepancies on minor points of difference that the original message becomes a bit lost.

                    • felix

                      Then state it for the record.

                      If it’s so straightforward and so easily understood, just state it. Won’t take you a moment so what’s stopping you?

                    • McFlock

                      or a bored person wondering if you’ll type a straight sentence.
                            
                       

                    • Balanced View

                      Already made in comments 20 (referring to 19), 20.11, and 20.1111

                    • felix

                      I agree BV, anyone reading this thread will have no trouble seeing exactly what you’re up to.

    • Matt 20.2

      Great, you can only talk about your experiences. I can talk about mine too, which is that private enterprise is no less likely to be Dilbertesque.

  21. felix 21

    Anyone who says the private sector is intrinsically more efficient has never worked in the world of corporate bullshit.

    Or they have, but they drunk the kool-aid and think all that bullshit is somehow of a higher quality than the bullshit found in large public organisations.

    Or they’re lying.

  22. Balanced View 22

    Im not sure that “lie” is the right description for this. A lie would be if a majority shareholding was not held.
    As far as the earnings from this investment, this will still be commensurate to the level of investment.
    The part I am most uncomfortable about is the potential for a lot of this investment to come from foreign interests. Can someone explain the difference (if any) from NZ’s perspective to paying dividends overseas vs paying interest on the debt that this is meant to pay off?

    • Draco T Bastard 22.1

      This government may pay off debt with the windfall, I doubt it though. They’ll probably find some way to channel it to themselves or their rich mates (ie, irrigation in Canterbury). The actual sale makes us worse off by about $100m/year so that means more borrowing over the long term.

      As for the difference between paying interest and paying dividends – the interest would be less than the dividends.

    • illuminatedtiger 22.2

      Of course it is. And lying is this governments modus operandi too.

  23. Poission 23

    The argument for asset sale based on the risk of net gdp liability,allows for the problematic issue of is it a resonable metric.

    If we observe the cash inflow from reinsurance companies and the subsequent disappearing of the surplus by STATNZ one wonders where the money is hidding,off balance sheets bank reserves etc,

    http://business.scoop.co.nz/2011/06/20/nz-current-account-surplus-to-go-on-treatment-of-reinsurance/

    http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/economic_indicators/balance_of_payments/BalanceOfPayments_HOTPDec2011qtr.aspx

    Where is the money?

    • Poission 23.1

      The money seems to reappear in another document eg

      The Reserve Bank in its November 2011 Financial Stability Report noted that a decline in recent years of the international borrowing requirements of the banking sector had helped moderate New Zealand’s net international debtor position, but that this has been “…partly offset by increased government borrowing”. Between 30 June 2010 and 30 June 2011, the net international debt of banks has fallen by $9,094 million, while the net international debt of general government has risen by $7,321 million (partially offset by an increase in the net offshore reserves of the Reserve Bank of $2,262 million).

      New Zealand’s net international debtor position has improved over the last 12 months as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes. Reinsurance claims on foreign reinsurance companies, are treated as New Zealand investment abroad in the international investment position statement. The total value of these reinsurance claims has been estimated at $12,518 million (the value of which will decline with the settlement of claims).

      http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/ParlSupport/ResearchPapers/3/4/6/00PlibCIP121-New-Zealand-s-International-Investment-Position.htm

      This seems to bring a number of issues

      1) The transfer of accumulated wealth from overseas insurance companies (read profits)
      2) The decrease in overseas borrrowing by Banks
      3) The artificial high rate of the NZ exchange rate due to financial repatriations

      This suggests that the NZ dollar should fall with windfall profits for exporters and increased taxation revenue for the Govt during the rebuild.

      The ideological arguments for asset sales seem poorly constructed,and the economic recovery will have little to do with policy reorganisation,except to postpone it in regions such as Wgtn ,which is most probably contracting due to structural uncertainty.

  24. captain hook 24

    pssssttt…
    chew wanna buy some shares?

  25. Key guarantees 51% majority?

    Speaking to reporters in Jakarta last night, where he is leading a 26-strong trade delegation, Key said he guaranteed the Government would keep a 51 per cent majority.

    “It’s a technical argument but the reality is we want to sell up to 49 per cent of stock and retain the other 51 per cent.

    “We are not going to do anything tricky there.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/6748494/Key-affirms-Govt-to-retain-51pc-in-asset-sales

    Here he talks about “majority” – is that voting majority or ownership majority?

    This needs further clarification. I’ve had one response but am waiting for more details.

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