web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

Back to the future: electricity privatisation

Written By: - Date published: 2:12 pm, July 25th, 2009 - 86 comments
Categories: assets, bill english, economy, privatisation - Tags:

back to the future billBill English says he doesn’t much care whether monopolies or businesses with monopolistic power are owned by private companies or the Government does. He doesn’t care whether power companies are publicly or privately owned because he thinks he can make the electricity sector competitive. He’s dreaming like he was in the 1990s.

Monopolies are a fact of life in any economy. Some sectors are ‘natural monopolies’ – railway networks, electricity, to a lesser extent land-based telecommunications, airports, seas ports, roads, public transport- basically things that require huge capital investment and provide a low-cost commodity-type service create an unassailable barrier to entry into the market for potential competitors (that’s nothing controversial, it’s 5th form economics).

English seems to think he can convert the natural monopoly of electricity into a competitive market. Well, we’re still living with the consequences of the last time he and his mates tried that by splitting up ECNZ and selling Contact. The result has been the creation of an oligoploy of companies that still exercise considerable monopolistic power leading to underinvestment, misplaced investment, prices that are too high, service that is too unreliable, and the stupidity of companies (most of them owned by the government) spending millions on advertising trying to sell exactly the same electricity to you.

Now, monopolies and quasi-monopolies or oligopolies (like the power cos) do have a lot of power in their market and that’s not good. They can charge ‘super-profits’, make more money than they could under normal supply and demand, because consumers have nowhere else to go. Given their power and the fact that monopolies sometimes make sense, who should own them? The public, of course. Only public ownership can ensure that any super-profits that are made are not ultimately lost to the consumer but are returned via government spending on public services which benefit the consumer.

Why would we want to sell monopolies off to (inevitably foreign) owners? They would be relatively unrestrained by government policy, the profits would flow offshore, they would not have the incentive to provide a reliable and effective service or make investment. The history of selling monopolies (think Telecom, NZRail etc) is they asset strip, they put up prices, they fail to invest, and pretty soon we’ve lost far more money offshore than we made from the sale.

English might be hoping some pixie dust will turn up that will turn natural monopolies into competitive markets but it’s not going to happen. That being the case, those monopolies must stay in public ownership.

86 comments on “Back to the future: electricity privatisation”

  1. bobo 1

    Its nice to see the media during a recession focus the work/life balance for Key ignoring the real people struggling to get by who have been made redundant.. Nice one stuff..

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/2673088/Keys-failsafe-pick-up-line

  2. che 2

    You deride “the creation of an oligoploy of companies that still exercise considerable monopolistic power leading to underinvestment, misplaced investment, prices that are too high, service that is too unreliable…” and admit that all these companies are owned by the government…

    and then demand that they stay in public ownership? Doesn’t appear to make much sense.

    Electricity transmission is a natural monopoly. That’s why Transpower is regulated by both the Electricity Commission (which approves transmission upgrades, so we don’t pay too much for stuff that is unnecessary) and the Commerce Commission (which sets the price band that Transpower can charge to pay its capital outlay). Over the next few years Transpower won’t even pay a dividend to the government because it’s been told to reinvest all profits (small as they are anyway) in new investment.

    So is electricity distribution. That’s why lines companies are again price controlled by the Commerce Commission.

    Electricity generation and retail are not natural monopolies. Consumers cannot switch transmission companies (there’s only one set of lines and one company) but they can switch retailers – and they do. The wholesale and retail markets are not perfect. No market is.

    But nobody has come up with a better way. A wholesale market ensures that least cost new generation is built only when it is needed (as opposed to massive overbuild and massive expense under ECNZ and its predecessors). There IS competition in the retail market – look at Mercury recently competing hard on price down south against Contact, who have lost thousands of customers, and are paying people up to $200 to win them back.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      fully government owned and no pretense to make a profit – it’s a much better way and what we used to have before we decided that everything needed to make a profit.

      • chris 2.1.1

        that might work under a govt. of the left? but what about a right wing govt.? Say they didn’t privatise, they’d just run the service as cheaply as possible so they wern’t seen to be making money, or they’d spend too much on it. I believe in public ownership of natural monopolies as making better economic sense, but you’re also entrusting our natural monopolies to political whim.

  3. che 3

    The other example you ignore is Contact, which is privately owned. Are they relatively unrestrained by government policy? How?

    Do they not provide a reliable service (compared to, say, Genesis – think recent problems- or Mighty River Power – think Muliaga family…)

    They don’t have an incentive to make investment? Well, Contact has literally billions of new generation on its booked, lined up to be built over the next few years….

    As for profits flowing offshore, this is just economic illiteracy. Contact makes money in New Zealand dollars. New Zealand dollars that flow offshore can’t be spent offshore – the money has to be spent in New Zealand.

    • Pascal's bookie 3.1

      “As for profits flowing offshore, this is just economic illiteracy. Contact makes money in New Zealand dollars. New Zealand dollars that flow offshore can’t be spent offshore the money has to be spent in New Zealand.”

      Are you saying that profits earned in NZ and repatriated off shore are a neutral factor in terms of our balance of payments?

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        That’s what they’re tying to say – yes.

        It’s funny, while at Uni I had a professor of economics tell me that the smaller economy may be worse off (they are, he put up a chart proving it) due to foreign investment but the world economy would be better off. He really couldn’t understand that the smaller economy would still be worse off. Yeah, it’s colloquially known as the “trickle down” effect.

        PS. It’s a rule of thumb of foreign investment: larger economies invest in smaller ones and not the other way around simply because the smaller economy can’t afford to invest in the larger.

        • RedLogix 3.1.1.1

          NZ’s deeply unfavourable current account deficit is almost entirely due to our massively negative ‘Net International Investment Position’. (About $180b).

          This is the main reason why NZ interest rates are so high compared with the rest of the world.

      • Paul Walker 3.1.2

        Yes. Simply because everything in the BoP is neutral in that for every debt there must be a credit. The BoP sums to zero.

        • Pascal's bookie 3.1.2.1

          It sums to zero yes. But that’s not the same as saying that profits repatriated aren’t ‘flowing offshore’, or that every item is neutral. FFS. If there’s a negative, there must be a positive somewhere, but that doesn’t make negatives or positives ‘neutral’.

          If those profits weren’t flowing offshore, would our BOP position change, all other things being equal?

          • RedLogix 3.1.2.1.1

            I have to share PB’s exasperation here. In general the excessive flow of ‘negative investment income’ (ie profits and interest) out of NZ is balanced by overseas investors placing short-term cash into the country because we have such high interest rates. Which in turn creates a future liability to pay yet more interest; a compounding process that ultimately leads to the total interest liability exceeding our ability to pay, and the country defaults on it’s total overseas debt. At that point the value of the NZD crashes dramatically and the country is plunged into a crisis. While all along the BoP remains ‘neutral’.

            Or are you telling us that because the BoP is ‘neutral’ we can rack up as much external debt as we like with impunity?

            I struggling to grasp what you mean by such an anodyne claim that “The BoP sums to zero.”. Well so does a company’s annual balance sheet, but that fact alone tells you nothing about whether the company is profitable, or about to be bankrupted. It’s the nature of the line items that counts.

  4. I’ve always like this one from Noam Chomski: “Privatisation does not mean you take a public institution and give it to some nice person. It means you take a public institution and give it to an unaccountable tyranny.”

    Anti Spam: necessities.
    Perhaps it’s trying to tell us something. LOL.

  5. Marty G 5

    You’re arguing the experiment in partial privatisation and attempting to create a market in among the generator/retailers has worked? No it’s been a disaster.

    They should have acknowledged that the market is a natural monopoly, should have continued running it as such, and kept it all in public hands.

    And it is a natural monoploy. There have been no private entrants into the market – except tiny Nova gas – all the players are just articifical government creations. That shows there is no real market, just a poor attempt to create one using privatisation pixie dust.

    • Natural monopolies are determined by the natural of their cost functions, ie they are subadditive, not by the amount of entry or exit. I don’t see why power production need be a natural monopoly, natural oligopoly may be. But that’s as far as it goes.

  6. che 6

    Lol. It IS in public hands – Meridian, Genesis, etc are all owned by the government!

    You haven’t engaged with the points I have made.

    Trustpower entered the market as well – and they are a fairly big player. So wrong on that too.

  7. BLiP 7

    The idea that competition is a healthy thing when it comes to the provision of an essential service is a fallacy. The imposition of the artificial landscape within the New Zealand electricity sector has impoverished the nation and filled the coffers of foreign-owned multinationals. Who can forget that National Inc’s smirking Minster of Energy, one Max Bradford, and his comment that his artifice would lead to reduced electricity prices? Its a flashing neon warning sign to New Zealanders when we see the same players playing the same game nearly twenty years later. And its to the country’s shame that we let them get away with it.

    The only reorganisation needed in the electricity sector is the dismantling of the contrived “retail” sector, the consolidation of the industry into one, government owned body that supplies electricity at cost plus, say, 30 percent, smoothed out so that all New Zealanders pay the same amount. Business can pay another 10 percent on top of that..

  8. Outofbed 8

    We need the ability to sell home generated electricity to the grid
    It is not in power generators interest to let that happen it is also not in their interest to preach power conservation as they obviously make money out of selling power.
    We are a small country that had one of the most efficient generation/supply situations in the world Bradford came along and fucked it up
    Won’t these Tory fuckers ever learn ?

    • stormspiral 8.1

      Genesis have a system of rewards: the more you use, the more ‘brownie points’ you get. And we own the company!!

      And home generation won’t solve the problem of highest prices for the poorest people…unless somebody wants to supply the poor with the tools to home generate. It would help the middle class I guess.

      OK I can hear the screams.

  9. stormspiral 9

    You are simply parroting rightwing (and some leftwing) trash.

    Surely the test of an operation is whether or not it works, and surely if it works, profits are an integral result.

    Clearly the electricity farce is not working, despite the rorting of approx $700billion from consumers.

    It is not true to say that people have choices and can move from supplier to supplier. In many parts of the country (I live in one of them) there is NO choice, and it is unreal what the companies do in such places.

    Hopefully when some of you guys grow up you will learn that there is a difference between practice and theory, and maybe you will also learn from experience. And the world didn’t begin in the 1970s or ’80s.

    This is in no form a personal attack. It’s a simple statement of a lot of years of observation and experience.

    But I suppose you all have to reinvent the wheel

  10. RedLogix 10

    Lol. It IS in public hands Meridian, Genesis, etc are all owned by the government!

    While this is true in one sense, it is also true that they are SOE’s who are required by statute to act as if they were private companies.

    For many, many decades the electricity system in this country was run as a public service, wholly owned by the Govt, designed and operated by engineers for the wider benefit of the community. Worked perfectly well, NZ had some of the lowest cost electricity in the world. If it had been allowed to develop naturally as a single organic whole, we would have been gaining real synergies from the application of advanced automation technologies that have come on stream in the last decade.

    Instead it’s all cut up into little bits that play games with each other.

  11. stormspiral 11

    Precisely

  12. Outofbed 12

    Home generation though would help ease some expected supply problems it is generally clean energy and the ability to sell back to the grid ones excess power would be a great incentive I take your point about benefiting the middle class but it would help small scale community generation projects
    http://www.ecocentre.org.uk/selling-electricity-back-to-the-grid.html

  13. stormspiral 13

    No argument from me. Just pointing out anomolies; that’s all…as usual <:-)

  14. Draco T Bastard 14

    Competition is inherently more expensive than monopolies. This is ok for some things where substitution can take place and the competition can bring some benefit. Electricity (and telecommunications, and hospitals, etc) isn’t one of them. You need electricity and there’s only one type.

    The supposed dead weight loss that monopolies bring are actually brought about by people trying to maximize profit. This has been proved (google Steve Keen, economist). As the government doesn’t need to make a profit that dead weight loss doesn’t exist. The best solution is a part subsidy from the government (taxes) and the rest paid at an individual level. The part paid at an individual level is to remind people that there is a cost and that it’s not free.

    Monopolies are actually more efficient than competition due to several factors: Economies of scale and having only to deal with itself and the customer (rather than several independent competitors and the customer) being the most notable. Bill English can’t make the electricity “market” more competitive and cheaper simply because making it more competitive will make it cost more and, on top of that, it will also have the dead weight loss of profit.

    Bill English is, quite frankly, talking from the POV of delusional ideology.

    • RedLogix 14.1

      Draco:

      The link you may have been thinking of.

      You’re absolutely right. In this paper Keen blows the deregulation/privatisation idea right out of the water.

    • “The supposed dead weight loss that monopolies bring are actually brought about by people trying to maximize profit. This has been proved (google Steve Keen, economist). As the government doesn’t need to make a profit that dead weight loss doesn’t exist.”

      I know I’m only an economist but the statement above is just plan wrong.

      The reason, as we explain to every stage 1 class, for a deadweight loss is that output is below the perfectly competitive level of output. The reason for output being below this level doesn’t matter. Whether the firm is maximizing profits or not there will still be a deadweight loss. For example assume that the perfectly competitive level of output is 10, the monopoly level of output is 5. The any level of output between 5 and 10 will not maximise profits for the monopolist but will result in a deadweight loss. So not maximising profits does not mean no deadweight loss. What results in no deadweight loss is producing the perfectly competitive level of output.

      Note also that both monopolists and competitive firms maximise profits. But only one results in a deadweight loss.

      • RedLogix 14.2.1

        Oh read the whole paper before cherry picking the bits that don’t fit with your preconceived notions.

        • Paul Walker 14.2.1.1

          He is just plain wrong in what he said. That’s not cherry picking, that just making a very simple but important point.

          • RedLogix 14.2.1.1.1

            You have not had time to do anything more than skim read the paper. You’ve taken one para that conflicts with your existing ideas … and rejected the entire thing.

            • Paul Walker 14.2.1.1.1.1

              No I have just pointed out that the argument I quoted is wrong. Please note I have said nothing about the bits I did not quote thus how can you logically get to the conclusion that I have “rejected the entire thing”?

              His argument is still wrong.

            • Tim Ellis 14.2.1.1.1.2

              RL, you might want to defer to a practising economist on the definition of a deadweight loss. Paul Walker wasn’t stating an ideological position, unless you believe that all orthodox economic theory is right-wing.

            • Draco T Bastard 14.2.1.1.1.3

              you might want to defer to a practising economist on the definition of a deadweight loss.

              How’s the joke go?

              How do you get 200 hundred answers to a single question? Ask 100 economists.

            • chris 14.2.1.1.1.4

              I’m going to send a copy of this thread to steven keen and see if he wants to explain his understanding of the monopoly situation. hopefully he replies!

      • Draco T Bastard 14.2.2

        Point me at a perfectly competitive economy.

    • Draco. A longer response to your comment is available here.

  15. Outofbed 15

    “Bill English is, quite frankly, talking from the POV of delusional ideology.’
    is that the same as talking out of his arse?

    • Draco T Bastard 15.1

      It could be, yes. Although I tend to think that if he was talking out his arse the result would at least be cleaner and biodegradable.

  16. Marty. For future reference, what your 5th form economics didn’t tell you is that the actual definition of a natural monopoly is an industry (firm) which has a subadditive cost function. This is, c(x+y)<=c(x)+c(y). It is this that results in the fact that the most efficient form of production is to have a single firm doing all the production. But as to the actual outcome in the market you should consider ideas like, for example, contestability, auctioning of a monopoly franchise or intermodal competition. Regulation of even a natural monopoly may not be needed. Sometimes going beyond 5th form is useful.

    • Marty G 16.1

      grow the fuck up Paul. I’m describing the situation of a typical natural monopoly for a general audience in a few words.

    • RedLogix 16.2

      1. A fundamental feature of a contestable market is low barriers to entry and exit. In a market with very high capital costs like electricity and high barrier to entry, notion of contestability is not applicable.

      2. In markets where the lifetime of assets like power stations, substations and transmission lines is much longer than any plausible periodic ‘franchise auction cycle’, creates a massive incentive to undermaintain assets. Again not usefully applicable to the electricity market.

      3. Intermodal competition. Fancy notion, but again what exactly what alternative ‘mode’ do you have in mind?

      • Paul Walker 16.2.1

        Actually thinking about this some more, I’m not sure power production is a natural monopoly. Natural oligopoly may be, but not natural monopoly. But I haven’t seen any studies on the cost structures of electricity production. Do you know of any?

        • BLiP 16.2.1.1

          Here’s two: one nuclear and the other Green .

        • Marty G 16.2.1.2

          Yeah, you’ll notice I use the terms monoploy, monopolistic, oligopoly. I’m using monoploy as shorthand for monopolies and quasi-monopolistic markets. Because this isn’t an economics essay, it’s a few hundred words for a general audience on the fact that there are markes were real competition can’t be achieved and that privatisation in those markets simply means the privatisation of super-profits.

    • Draco T Bastard 16.3

      Again I refer you to Steve Keen. Competition is more expensive than a monopoly and people need to be aware of that.

      • Paul Walker 16.3.1

        1) What do you think the statement “Competition is more expensive than a monopoly” means. Seriously I can’t see it has any economic meaning. The cost structure of monopolies and competitive firms could be the same. In fact in the standard graph we use to show the difference between the output levels of monopolies and competitive firms, the cost curves are exactly the same. What differs is the level of output each produces.

        2) Your argument that I quoted is still wrong. Even Keen would tell you that.

        • Draco T Bastard 16.3.1.1

          1.) It uses up more actual resources – something that economists seem to think irrelevant.

          2.) Reality disagrees with you and, as Keen has the proof that what I said was right, I’m pretty sure he’d agree with me.

          • Paul Walker 16.3.1.1.1

            I will take a guess and say you are talking about the use of inputs. As perfect competition and monopolies produce different levels of outputs, that they use different levels of inputs is not surprising. Competitive firms will use, in total, more inputs than a monopolist because they produce more output.

            And your discussion of deadweight loss is just wrong.

            • Draco T Bastard 16.3.1.1.1.1

              Perfect competition wouldn’t as any competition that exceeded the costs of any of the other competition would be immediately removed from the market as it would no longer be able to compete. What you describe is imperfect competition which is what you find in the real world.

              And my description of dead weight loss is spot on – it is profit.

            • Paul Walker 16.3.1.1.1.2

              “Perfect competition wouldn’t as any competition that exceeded the costs of any of the other competition would be immediately removed from the market as it would no longer be able to compete.”

              The result of this is that all firms in the market will have basically the same cost structure. This is what is assumed in perfect competition.

    • BLiP 16.4

      Have a good wank, did you Paul? Now, with all that mighty convolutin’ learnin’ in your inflated noggin (and with apologies to Finlay McDonald), here’s one for you:

      for all the free market makeovers, asset sales and privatisation, Reserve Bank and Fiscal Responsibility Acts, tax cuts, laissez faire monetary strategy and financial deregulation, we have gone backwards. Discuss.

        • BLiP 16.4.1.1

          D -

        • Draco T Bastard 16.4.1.2

          About what I’d expect.

          Blinded ideology.

          • Paul Walker 16.4.1.2.1

            Ideology or evidence? We report, you decide.

            The empirical evidence shows us that private ownership is by and large superior to state ownership, Nellis (“Privatization—A Summary Assessment”, Center for Global Development Working Paper Number 87 March, 2006.) for example, summaries this evidence as

            “The vast majority of economic studies praise privatization’s positive impact at the level of the firm, as well as its positive macroeconomic and welfare contributions. Moreover, contrary to popular conception, privatization has not contributed to maldistribution of income or increased poverty – at least in the best-studied Latin American cases. In sum, the technical picture is generally positive.”

            The following comes from the summary of chapter 4, ‘Empirical Evidence on Privatization’s Effectiveness in Nontransition Economies’, from William L. Megginson’s book “The Financial Economics of Privatization”, New York: Oxford University Press, 2005,

            “The 87 studies from nontransition economies discussed in this chapter offer at least limited support for the proposition that privatization is associated with improvements in the operating and financial performance of divested firms. Most of these studies offer strong support for this proposition, and only a handful document outright performance declines after privatization. Almost all studies that examine post-privatization changes in output, efficiency, profitability, capital investment spending, and leverage document significant increases in the first four measures and significant declines in leverage.

            The studies examined here are far less unanimous regarding the impact of privatization on employment levels in privatized firms. All governments fear that privatization will cause former SOEs to shed workers, and the key question in virtually every case is whether the divested firm’s sales will increase enough after privatization to offset the dramatically higher levels of per-worker productivity. Three studies document significant increases in employment [Galal, Jones, Tandon, and Vogelsang (1992); Megginson, Nash, and van Randenborgh (1994); and Boubakri and Cosset (1998)], but most of the remaining studies document significant-sometimes massive- employment declines. These conflicting results could be due to differences in methodology, sample size and make-up, or omitted factors.

            However, it is more likely that the studies reflect real differences in post-privatization employment changes between countries and between industries. In other words, there is no “standard” outcome regarding employment changes.

            Perhaps the safest conclusion we can assert is that privatization does not automatically mean employment reductions in divested firms, though this will likely occur unless sales can increase fast enough after divestiture to offset very large productivity gains. Since the empirical studies discussed in this chapter generally document performance improvements after privatization, a natural follow-up question is to ask why performance improves. For utilities, the need to introduce competition and an effective regulatory regime emerges as key, but there is no “silver bullet” answer for what makes privatization successful for firms in competitive industries. As we will discuss in the next chapter, a key determinant of performance improvement in transition economies is bringing in new managers after privatization. No study explicitly documents systematic evidence of this occurring in nontransition economies, but Wolfram (1998) and Cragg and Dyck (1999a,b) show that the compensation and pay-performance sensitivity of managers of privatized U.K. firms increases significantly after divestment. Studies that explicitly address the sources of post-privatization performance improvement using data from multiple nontransition economies tend to find stronger efficiency gains for firms in developing countries, in regulated industries, in firms that restructure operations after privatization, and in countries providing greater amounts of shareholder protection.”

            Sunita Kikeri and John Nellis write in their article, An Assessment of Privatization, “The World Bank Research Observer”, vol. 19, no. 1 (Spring 2004)

            “This article takes stock of the empirical evidence and shows that in competitive sectors privatization has been a resounding success in improving firm performance. In infrastructure sectors, privatization improves welfare, a broader and crucial objective, when it is accompanied by proper policy and regulatory frameworks.”

            Mary M. Shirley and Patrick Walsh write in “Public versus Private Ownership: The Current State of the Debate”, Working Paper, The World Bank,

            “Our review found greater ambiguity about ownership in theory than in the empirical literature. In the debate over the effects of competition, theory suggests that ownership may matter and if so, that private firms will outperform SOEs. The empirical studies squarely favor private ownership in competitive markets. Theory’s ambiguity about ownership in monopoly markets seems better justified, since the empirical literature is also less conclusive about the effects of ownership in such markets. Theories that assume a welfare maximizing government suggest that SOEs can correct market failures. In contrast, public choice theories are skeptical of the benevolent government model. Corporate governance theories suggest that even well intentioned governments may not be able to assure that SOE managers do their bidding. The empirical literature favors those skeptical of SOEs as a tool to address market failures. In studies of industrialized countries, where we might expect more developed political markets to motivate greater government concern with welfare maximization or better information and incentives to overcome corporate governance problems, private firms still have an advantage. The private advantage is more pronounced in developing countries, where market failures are more likely.”

            • stormspiral 16.4.1.2.1.1

              You know, Paul, there’s not a bit of hard science in anything you have said. You have couched it in seemingly logical wordiness, and not once have you (apparently) thought about the effects of your presumptions on what you are saying and imparting to our kids, let alone the influence you are having on our childlike politicians.

              That’s ethical?

  17. RedLogix 17

    RL, you might want to defer to a practising economist on the definition of a deadweight loss. Paul Walker wasn’t stating an ideological position, unless you believe that all orthodox economic theory is right-wing.

    We’ve crossed our wires somewhat . Paul was specifically refuting a statement by Draco, whereas I’m referring to Keen’s paper that I linked to and Paul appeared to be replying to.

    Nonetheless Keen’s paper is highly relevant to this discussion. (And yes I know what the definition of ‘deadweight loss’ is.)

  18. Marty. Check out Sappington and Stiglitz’s “Fundamental Theorem of Privatization”. What it shows is that even with a natural monopoly you can get the result that the outcome with a privatized monopoly and a state-owned monopoly is exactly the same. The government can get a private firm to produce any level of output it wants. Shapiro and Willig and Shleifer and Vishny have similar neutrality theorems.

  19. RedLogix 19

    Seriously I can’t see it has any economic meaning. The cost structure of monopolies and competitive firms could be the same. In fact in the standard graph we use to show the difference between the output levels of monopolies and competitive firms, the cost curves are exactly the same. What differs is the level of output each produces.

    This is exactly one of the points Keen addresses.The general situation is that monopolies use larger-scale production facilities while competitive firms
    use smaller scale ones. In the electricity industry a monopoly operator has the opportunity to install larger, potentially more efficient units, schedule production and transmission assets with more flexibility, access capital at lower risk and cost, consolidate back-office functions and overheads and so on.

    In general I would assert that larger scale operations are more efficient and productive than smaller scale ones.

    • This is true as long as you have a natural monopoly. It is not true when you don’t. And I’m not sure that electricity production is a natural monopoly. More likely a natural oligopoly. If the minimum efficient scale is small then multiple firms are the most efficient way of producing output.

      • RedLogix 19.1.1

        I don’t know Paul, we seem destined to talk past each other. I’m looking at the industry from an engineer’s POV. As products go electrons are the ultimate commodity, the only differentiators are price and security of supply (a rather secondary consideration for most customers).

        From an engineering perspective there are many good reasons why the larger your operation, the more opportunities you have to reduce your average costs. The largest possible operator in this industry, a monopoly, will have the lowest possible cost of production.

        Moreover a transmission grid is not only a means of shifting electricity from production to consumer, but is also a means of mitigating the ‘security of supply’ risk. A single monopoly operator can achieve this risk mitigation far more efficiently than does the current operator of the grid (Transpower) who is required to operate a totally artificial ‘market’ governed by an almost insanely complex set of rules. (I’ve seen an overview of them once, for a nation of 4m people, it was a mindboggling document.)

        By contrast your POV as an economist, while I am sure is internally consistent and logical to you, seem’s to me disconnected from the industry we are talking about.

        • Paul Walker 19.1.1.1

          The lowest cost producer will be determined by the relationship between demand and the position of the average cost curve. If the demand curve cuts the average cost curve to the left of the minimum of average cost then yes a monopoly will be the lest cost producer. If on the other hand demand cuts to the right of the minimum then it may not be.The further to the right is the demand curve the greater the number of firms in the industry.

          • stormspiral 19.1.1.1.1

            That is simply not valid.

            Because, when prices go too high, those who cannot afford to buy are forced to drop off the end. They don’t actually disappear. They just tough it out on the fringes–unless of course, they die of cold.

            See what I mean about scientific rigour?

            • Paul Walker 19.1.1.1.1.1

              Actually read what I wrote. What I was talking about was the least-cost way of producing. That is, how many firms will there be in the industry to achieve the least-cost method of production? Nothing at all was said about the retail price of the good. The retail price will depend on supply and demand. What was being talked about here was just the cost structure that underlie supply.

              But note that it is the *least-cost* industry structure that is the concern. That should help make the good or service the most affordable. Any other industry alignment would raise cost and thus lead to the possibility of higher retails prices.

          • Zaphod Beeblebrox 19.1.1.1.2

            The lowest cost producer of electrons could be you and I. If we had true competition, we would be allowed to use our photo-votaics to pump back into the grid and make some money.
            This would save massively on transmission costs.
            Of course no private operator with a monopoly of power supply would allow us to do that, would they? That would be too much competition for them.

        • Paul Walker 19.1.1.2

          “From an engineering perspective there are many good reasons why the larger your operation, the more opportunities you have to reduce your average costs. The largest possible operator in this industry, a monopoly, will have the lowest possible cost of production.”

          Consider the following very simple example. Average cost is given by 4.x+20/x where x is output. Minimum AC is (I hope!) where x=square root of 5 with AC=8.sqroot(5). If output less than sqroot(5) a monopoly is the least cost producer. Consider however an output of 25 units. Monopoly AC is 100.8 while if we have 5.sqroot(5) firms each producing sqroot(5) units, the AC is only 8.sqroot(5). So multiple firms have lower costs than a monopoly.

          • RedLogix 19.1.1.2.1

            Lets deconstruct your formula;

            The 4.x term is essentially the marginal cost; ie for every one unit x produced, it has 4 cost units (dollars if you like) associated with it.

            The 20/x term represents fixed costs, ie the firm has overheads of 20 units which can be divided by every unit of production to yield the contribution of overheads to average costs.

            So our firm produces 1 unit, the total average cost = 4 + 20/4 = $9

            If our firm produces 1,000 units the average cost = $4,000 + 20/1000 =$4000.02

            In other words in the example you have given is a company who for any realistic level of production has an average cost almost exactly the same as its marginal cost.

            Real-world firms, including electricity producers, do not have the cost structures assumed by economic theory, with the result that setting price equal to marginal cost would cause the vast majority of
            firms to go bankrupt. There are good practical and theoretical reasons why most products are not produced under conditions of diminishing marginal productivity, so that in practice marginal costs are constant or falling and well below average costs.
            Keen

            In highly capital intensive industries (and most are) the marginal cost is well below the average cost. For hydro geberation the marginal cost of producing one more kwhr may well be zero, whereas the total overheads such as operations, maintenance, finance and return on capital to the owners are by far the dominant items on the company’s balance sheet.

            In the water supply industry, the marginal cost of producing 1m3 of potable water at the treatment plant is typically 5 -8 cents, whereas the average wholesale cost that is charged to the consumer is around ten times that…. because fixed costs are by far the dominant item.

            Again I would assert that the minimum average cost for complex, capital intensive industries like electricity would be for the largest possible producer. This is not an original thought, some have taken it to it’s logical conclusion.

            • Paul Walker 19.1.1.2.1.1

              The total cost function is 4.x^2+20 so marginal costs are 8.x. Given this, marginal costs will be below average costs for all output below sqroot(5) and greater than AC for all output greater than sqroot(5). So no, marginal costs are not the same as average costs.

              “[...] so that in practice marginal costs are constant or falling and well below average costs”

              This is true in my example for output below sqroot(5). The above condition is just a sufficient condition for a natural monopoly. If MC<AC the cost function will be subadditive. If MCAC, but normally only for a small range of output greater than the point where MC=AC.

              The point of my example was just to show that if demand is large relative to the minimum of AC then the natural monopoly conditions are not satisfied and thus having more a one producer is cost minimising.

              So the actual number of firms in the industry will be determined by the relationship between costs and demand. Not just costs.

      • stormspiral 19.1.2

        Paul, you are sounding very learned. Didn’t somebody write, ‘a little learnig is a dangerous thing’. Yes the correct quote IS learning. NOT knowledge.

        You are extrapolating from extrapolation based on THEORIES. Not science, becausre the maths used by economists are built on sand: simple linear arithmetic which cannot and does not work, and never will work..

        The variable is people. You know, 2-legged animals with big skulls.

        So many (apparent) economists blogging here, yet not one has justified his maths. I find this unsurprising, because you cannot do the maths (that includes you, paul,, though your formula is mathematically accurate as taken from the textbooks).

        But all these maths are based on many assumptions which have been proved faulty…and the more extrapolation anybody makes results in conclusions that are even further from the truth than the original assumptions. Error compounds error exponentially

        • BLiP 19.1.2.1

          Its all just a game to Paul – a game where human beings are reduced to unchanging mathematical patterns of behaviour. Resistance is futile.

          Its all very dismal and soul destroying, really.

        • Draco T Bastard 19.1.2.2

          Exactly what Keen says and what I’ve come to understand over the last 8 years I’ve been studying economics.

          • Steve Keen 19.1.2.2.1

            Draco is correct and Paul Walker has some reading to do.

            In a nutshell, the mathematical argument behind the Marshallian argument in favour of competitive firms over monopolies is based on two mathematical fallacies.

            The first is the proposition that a competitive firm faces a horizontal demand curve at the market price. The fallacy behind this under the conditions assumed in the Marshallian model was pointed out by George Stigler in 1953 (see PERFECT COMPETITION, HISTORICALLY CONTEMPLATED Vol 65 p. 8 footnote 31), but as usual:

            (a) economists don’t refer to papers that contradict their beliefs; and

            (b) Stigler, who was a staunch champion of neoclassical economics, believed that he found a way around this conundrum in any case in the argument to which the footnote was made–that though Price does in fact exceed Marginal Revenue for a competitive firm, the equating of Marginal Cost to Marginal Revenue means that Price will converge to Marginal Revenue as the number of firms rises towards infinity.

            This argument is perfectly correct, but there’s a twee problem: the behaviour Stigler assumed, of equating Marginal Cost to Marginal Revenue, which economists call “Profit Maximising Behaviour” does not in fact maximise profits.

            The actual profit maximising formula is:

            MR-MC = (n-1)/n * (P – MC)

            where n stands for the number of firms in an industry, and the other terms have the obvious meanings.

            I’ve pointed this out in a number of academic papers that are available on my website, including:

            (2004). “Deregulator: Judgment Day for Microeconomics’, Utilities Policy, 12: 109 125.
            (2006) (with Russell Standish, UNSW) “Profit Maximization, Industry Structure, and Competition: A critique of neoclassical theory’, Physica A 370: 81-85.

            The second fallacy is the one relating to comparing the aggregated marginal cost curves of a competitive industry to the marginal cost curve for a monopoly, something which neoclassical economists blithely do in their textbooks without ever asking themselves under which conditions such a correspondence would be true. Mathematically there are two cases where it will apply–where marginal costs are constant and identical, and where marginal cost is a function of the number of firms in an industry in such a fashion that a way that a small firm would actually have a cost advantage over a monopoly if it could produce at the same scale.

            As pointed out in one study I cite in that Utilities Policy paper and referred to here, there are good reasons why a monopoly might be expected to have a lower marginal cost function than a number of smaller firms operating in its stead.

  20. stormspiral 20

    Gotcha. Pity he’s not a good mathematicion, or if he is , why doesn’t he use his maths as tools based on ethics.

    I won’t say what I think should happen to him among a few others. On the other hand…10 years trying to survive on $17.000 a year might give him/them an insight. Gosh! That would be terrible!!! They wouldn’t be able to gamble on the stockmarket> He/they’d have to content themselves with Lotto instead, as long as the kids could go without breakfast for a few days.

    • BLiP 20.1

      Ethics!! C’mon, storm, that is just soooooooooooo last century As far as today’s academics are concerned Ethics is an English County.

      : >

      • stormspiral 20.1.1

        (grump) Last century OMG I forgot.

        It freaks me out that such people are engaged in teaching our young a flawed and incomplete philosophy and set of maths based on probabilities, likelihoods, and balance of opinion.

        It’s not possible to predict the weather with any certainty, yet these people purport to predict the futures of the entire populations of the world. As I said, OMG

        And who cares whether a market is natural or not? Surely the way it delivers to consumers is the test. They should be thinking about natural justice rather than natural monopolies. That’s a natural application of Occam’s razor.

        • BLiP 20.1.1.1

          With thanks to Steve Keen.

          • Paul Walker 20.1.1.1.1

            The easiest response is to refer you to Matt Nolan’s posting at TVHE: Deadweight loss, debunking, and strawman micro. A second response would be : Auld, M.C., 2002. “Debunking Debunking Economics”. Working Paper, University of Calgary. Available at http://jerry.ss.ucalgary.ca/debunk.pdf.

            • BLiP 20.1.1.1.1.1

              Who me? All I did was give you a D for your response to the really important question – I ignored everything you said after that. I suspect you meant to post your reply above here. Typical economist, you were nearly right.

            • Paul Walker 20.1.1.1.1.2

              “Who me? All I did was give you a D for your response to the really important question I ignored everything you said after that. I suspect you meant to post your reply above here. Typical economist, you were nearly right.”

              You’re right the reply was in wrong place, have reposted. Thanks.

              The response to your D would be here.

            • BLiP 20.1.1.1.1.3

              hehehe – fair nuff.

              I wonder if you’ve noted that the LSE’s answer to Her Majesty QEII’s question: “how did all this (i.e., the current global Depression) happen?” was: “hubris, ma’am”. :smile:

  21. r0b 21

    As a non economist I’ve learned a lot reading this thread. Wouldn’t it be nice if more discussion on political blogs (this one included!) could be conducted at this kind of level…

  22. Deal Paul,

    My critique of neoclassical pricing theory has been published in Physica A, long after that exchange with Auld. The maths passed the scrutiny of physicists, who leave economists in the dust when it comes to mathematical reasoning.

    As usual, neoclassical economists refuse to acknowledge flaws in their own logic, and I’ve long ago given up trying to debate with them. Point blank, the Marshallian theory is mathematically false. I wish I’d get even one neoclassical economist to concede this, but while physicists confirm my maths is correct, neoclassicals refuse to even acknowledge the point.

    Furthermore, though the Cournot-Nash is mathematically correct, the Nash equilibrium is meta-unstable: independent competitive behaviour will lead instrumental profit maximisers to diverge from it without collusion. The only way to maintain the equilibrium is to presume competitive firms have “perfect knowledge” of each other’s strategies, which makes a nonsense of the concept of competition to agree with.

    Further furthermore, a myriad of empirical studies have found that marginal cost is constant or falling for 89-98% of firms (depending on the survey–see Alan Blinder’s Asking About Prices for the latest such research and Fred Lee’s Post Keynesian Pricing Theory for a comprehensive survey of the other 140 or so studies that have reached the same conclusion.

    Neoclassical micro–especially as taught to undergraduates and as forms the basis of competition policy–is empirically irrelevant and intellectually defunct.

    Finally, I wrote a post on your blog this morning pointing out the error in Matt’s reply to me which has yet to appear on your blog–any chance of it being posted there???

    For those on this blog, what Matt wrote was:

    “MR-MC = (n-1)/n * (P – MC)”

    As perfect competition assumes “many firms” (read infinite) n-1 converges to n, implying that P=MR.”

    This is the formula for an individual firm, not the economy as a whole. The convergence Matt notes applies because the firm output “q” in the MR formula for the single firm (MR(q)=P+q*dP/dQ) must go to zero if the number of firms in an industry goes to infinity.

    I have computer simulation models in my paper where I have (say) 100 firms that are instrumental profit maximisers–vary output up or down and change direction if profit goes the wrong way–and those firms collectively converge to the “monopoly” output level rather than the alleged competitive output level.

    Perfect competition is and always has been a crock that has stopped economists from actually confronting the real world. Though I despair of ever getting neoclassical economists to realise this, I hope that non-believers can appreciate this and start to ignore the irrelevant theories of neoclassical economists. If you want to read something useful on competition policy, read Michael Porter’s The Competitive Advantage of Nations.

    • Steve in answer to this bit:

      “Finally, I wrote a post on your blog this morning pointing out the error in Matt’s reply to me which has yet to appear on your blogany chance of it being posted there???”

      Can you repost? I don’t moderate comments at all, so if it hasn’t turned up then I guess its a technological problem which I can’t fix.

    • More detailed response to what I think you are saying here.

      One more thing, What has your response to do with what I was attracking in the first place: Bastard’s comments:

      “As the government doesn’t need to make a profit that dead weight loss doesn’t exist.”

      And “Monopolies are actually more efficient than competition due to several factors: Economies of scale and having only to deal with itself and the customer (rather than several independent competitors and the customer) being the most notable.”

      And “And my description of dead weight loss is spot on it is profit.”

Links to post

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Assaulted for protecting olive trees
    Villagers and activists were assaulted, handcuffed and hospitalized today while protecting olive trees at the site of a proposed coal plant in Turkey.The Kolin Group wants the olive trees cut down to make way for a new coal power plant....
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 23-10
  • Shell Oil Cowboys Caught Drilling Illegally in New Zealand
    “There be trouble in town sheriff, some cowboys is coming into town”. It could be a line from a grainy old western from our childhood (well, mine anyway) when the good, clean living people of a well to do town...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 23-10
  • Freedom of information: How it works in Norway
    While we're all wailing and gnashing our teeth about the corruption of our Official Information Act, the Open Government Partnership has a great piece on how Norway does it better. Key to their approach is proactive publication of the metadata...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • Low inflation – time for meaningful wage increases
    With inflation low, now is a good time for workers to negotiate for pay increases that outstrip price rises and deliver real increases in wages and salaries. “For too many people, real pay increases have been missing for several years...
    CTU | 22-10
  • There appears to be an off button
    John Key’s ability to turn his Prime Ministership on or off as he pleases raises a number of troubling issues for the general public....
    Imperator Fish | 22-10
  • The 500 hats of Bartholomew Cubbins – the John Key edition
    It’s standard practice for Ministers and Prime Ministers to wear different “hats” in the course of their work. Work done as a Minister can obviously be separate and distinct from an MP’s ordinary functions on behalf of the constituents in their electorates....
    Occasionally erudite | 22-10
  • The many hats of John Key
    ...
    On the Left | 22-10
  • Want lower rates? Cut back on urban sprawl
    Suburban sprawl is a radical, government-led re-engineering of society, one that artificially inverted millennia of accumulated wisdom and practice in building human habitats. Charles Marohn In the recent article The Conservative Case Against the Suburbs Charles Marohn (@StrongTowns) takes on the awkward relationship...
    Transport Blog | 22-10
  • Ebola Fear outstrips risk
    It's not just that Ebola sounds like a modern day black plague and probably originated from blood sucking bats living in dark caves - reason enough for people here in the United States to react like there's a Zombie-Vampire apocalypse...
    Pundit | 22-10
  • National lets Shell drill illegally
    Back in 2012, National passed the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act. At the time, they made a lot of noise about how this was the first legislation to properly protect the EEZ, and that it would...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • The crime is not being rich, the crime is we don’t tax all the income tha...
    In our last blog we looked at whether the claims of ‘rock star’ economist Thomas Piketty held any water or not. Short answer is that some did, some didn’t. In this blog we turn to what we should do about...
    Gareth’s World | 22-10
  • Justice for Nisour Square
    On September 16, 2007, Blackwater mercenaries ran amok in Nisour Square, Baghdad, indiscriminately firing at civilians. 17 people were killed and 20 injured. Today, a US jury has convicted them of that crime:Three security guards working for the private US...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • The gentle art of believing nothing
    I remember, quite a few years ago now, Jenny Shipley addressing a room and asking the question, “What is the purpose of the National Party?” The answer was: To defeat the Labour Party. National was there to be the party...
    Occasionally erudite | 22-10
  • Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 – what really happened?
    Three months after the loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine the world is no wiser about what, and who, caused this crash. Well, we have the preliminary report but this only confirmed the bleeding obvious (“the aircraft was penetrated by a...
    Open Parachute | 22-10
  • It’s about history… & votes & elephants
    I think I'll start at the end. Andrew ended his recent post like this:...
    Pundit | 22-10
  • More than 20 jobs saved at Auckland faculty of education
    The union and TEU members at the University of Auckland have managed to reduce proposed compulsory job cuts at the faculty of education from 35 down to just two. Local TEU organiser Enzo Giordani said feisty staff with a staunch...
    Tertiary Education Union | 22-10
  • Gordon Campbell on the tokenism of New Zealand‘s role against Islamic Sta...
    Was John Key born lucky or what? Political performance tends to be judged on three things – the unemployment rate, the petrol price at the pump, and the market value of your house. This year, Key was lucky enough to...
    Gordon Campbell | 22-10
  • MIT chaos following job cut announcement
    Chaos reigns at MIT following last week’s announcement that the polytechnic will cut 68 full time equivalent jobs, according to local TEU organiser Chan Dixon. Over a thousand people have signed a petition opposing job cuts at the polytechnic. Staff are...
    Tertiary Education Union | 22-10
  • Auckland staff call for Living Wage
    The Living Wage Network held a rally and barbecue this week calling on the University of Auckland to become first New Zealand’s Living Wage university, by paying all staff, both directly employed and contracted staff, a living wage of $18.80...
    Tertiary Education Union | 22-10
  • Otago debates one off lump sum
    The University of Otago has not offered its staff a pay rise on their rates at collective agreement negotiations, opting instead to offer a one-off lump sum of $1000, which will not go ‘on the rates’. TEU members at the...
    Tertiary Education Union | 22-10
  • Speaker: David Fisher: The OIA arms race
    Good afternoon everyone. I am David Fisher, a reporter with the New Zealand Herald. I have worked as a journalist for 25 years, mainly in New Zealand but across a number of other countries.I think there's some value before I...
    Public Address | 22-10
  • Employment law first act of new government
    As the prime minister promised, his government has rushed to push through its Employment Relations Amendment Bill as one of its very first actions this week. The bill, which union members and workers have actively opposed for the last year,...
    Tertiary Education Union | 22-10
  • 7 inspiring stories of communities taking action for climate
    Stories of communities taking action for the climate and refusing to accept the plans of polluting fossil fuel companies are happening more and more. Here are just a few inspiring climate acts of courage taken by doctors, villagers, students, farmers,...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 22-10
  • Blowin’ in the wind
    Wind power has a pivotal role to play in the world's energy supply over the next few years. By providing huge amounts of clean, affordable power, it can buy us time in the fight against global warming while revolutions in...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 22-10
  • Wanted: more fertiliser and horse manure
    Equality enriches the soil, just like manure, but a lot less stinky (For our opening week, we asked all our contributors to think about why they’re On The Left, and what the next three years holds for the left, the...
    On the Left | 22-10
  • PM gets it right about Auckland, mostly
    Prime Minister John Key is dead right when he said: First home buyers in Auckland might have to consider an apartment in order to get onto the property ladder, Prime Minister John Key says. After all, the locational efficiencies of...
    Transport Blog | 22-10
  • John Key’s Multiple Identities
    Question to the Prime MinisterRussel Norman: How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he txted him?Prime Minister: None in my capacity as Prime Minister.John Key...
    Local Bodies | 22-10
  • Where is the Middle?
    When Labour decides who will be the next leader, it is of interest to all of us involved in politics. After all the person chosen could be New Zealand's next Prime Minister. So the debate on the nature of the...
    Pundit | 22-10
  • Labour Needs A Civil Union With The Greens
    Much has been written about where Labour needs to go from here. One issue which doesn’t seem to have generated much interest is what do they do with the Greens?...
    Pundit | 22-10
  • More Latté Than Lager: Reflections on Grant Robertson’s Campaign Lau...
    The People's Flag Is ... Mint Green? Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern (whom Twitter immediately dubbed Gracinda) pose in Mint Green for one of the glossy women's magazines. In a non-revolutionary era, superficial is about as deep as it gets. BIKERS?...
    Bowalley Road | 22-10
  • Auckland’s disturbing panopticon
    Earlier in the month, we learned that Auckland was planning to install a creepy panopticon, complete with ANPR and facial recognition, for vague and undefinied purposes. This produced a flurry of OIA requests via FYI, and one of them (for...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • How to Sell a House: Free Advice from a couple of experts. (Self-Described!...
      In the 32 years that Judy and I have been together we have bought and sold quite a few houses. Six years is the longest we  lived in any one of those houses.  Our friends regard us as gypsies. The...
    Brian Edwards | 22-10
  • Judith Collins’ two-tier OIA service
    Back in August, we learned that sewerblogger Cameron Slater was receiving extraordinary OIA service from then-Minister of Justice Judith Collins, in one case receiving a response to a request within 37 minutes. But it wasn't just extraordinary for its speed;...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • Fluoridation – a racist conspiracy?
    Political activists campaigning on health issues often resort to scaremongering. This can be dangerous – especially when their stories have no real basis but rely on selective and distorted information. Paul Connett’s Fluoride Action Network (FAN) often resorts to this sort of scaremongering. Now...
    Open Parachute | 22-10
  • What have people in Africa been doing since the Ebola outbreak started?
    by Andy Warren In a word – dying.  But not from Ebola. According to WHO data it looks like this: However, fear and anxiety are the sexiest ingredients of any story today – rather than boring facts. Ebola fits perfectly...
    Redline | 22-10
  • What have people in Africa been doing since the Ebola outbreak started?
    by Andy Warren In a word – dying.  But not from Ebola. According to WHO data it looks like this: However, fear and anxiety are the sexiest ingredients of any story today – rather than boring facts. Ebola fits perfectly...
    Redline | 22-10
  • Unbelieveable
    This week we've seen the Prime Minister desperately trying to cover up his war plans by pretending that Obama's war-planning meeting was just a "regular" meeting of defence partners which we just happened to be attending. Over on Kiwipolitico Pablo...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • Are the police using ANPR to target the disabled?
    The media this morning is full of stories of the paralysed man caught driving using a walking stick to reach the pedals. Its good that he's off the road, but there's one point in the story which raises questions:The driver...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • Like a cult…
    When a party loses badly, the public expects a bit of sorrowful wailing and beating of breasts. To say “This is what we did wrong, and this is how we’ll fix it” is an important part of restoring trust with...
    Occasionally erudite | 21-10
  • Does Money make Money?
    ‘Rock star economist’ or ‘inequality messiah’ French economist Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty First Century has outsold every other book on the planet this year. The book is so popular because it floats the idea that money makes...
    Gareth’s World | 21-10
  • Cycling: the benefits of complete networks
    A group of New Zealand researchers recently published an excellent paper on the costs and benefits of investing in a complete cycle network and safe street design. Their paper, which is available online, found that: the benefits of all the...
    Transport Blog | 21-10
  • Life isn’t fair. But it should be.
    (For our opening week, we asked all our contributors to think about why they’re On The Left, and what the next three years holds for the left, the government, and New Zealand.) I was not an angelic child. My mother...
    On the Left | 21-10
  • Up here on Planet Key
    ...
    On the Left | 21-10
  • TDB Today: Reasons not to be cheerful, Part #272b
    In my post at The Daily Blog this week I take inspiration from the great Ian Dury, and reflect on the disconnect between political ambition and the state of the climate system as it continues to warm. It will be...
    Hot Topic | 21-10
  • Otago dairy farms fail basics
    I’m really privileged to take on the responsibility of the water portfolio. Eugenie Sage has done excellent work in this area in the last term of parliament and provided a great platform for further work. Last Parliament my bill to...
    frogblog | 21-10
  • Tracking the performance of the 1 hour Xero model
    DISCLOSURE: I hold Xero shares.  Last year I built a very quick and dirty spreadsheet to analyse Xero, and wrote Valuing Xero – in one hour. The article was cross-posted to the NBR, where it attracted far more comments. More on those...
    Lance Wiggs | 21-10
  • Hard News: Media Take: The creeping politicisation of the OIA
    Brent Edwards' story last week on official advice to ministers on child poverty was interesting not only for its substance, but its circumstance.Edwards explained on Morning Report that he originally requested the first of the documents (some of them now nearly...
    Public Address | 21-10
  • Emails from the candidates
    As part of the NZ Labour leadership election, the candidates are able to email the party membership and sell themselves. Knowing how messy Labour’s membership list can be, I thought I’d reproduce the emails in case anyone wants to use...
    Progress report | 21-10
  • Gordon Campbell on Pharmac, Gough Whitlam and Sleater-Kinney
    Ridiculous reported comments on RNZ this morning by Trade Minister Tim Groser, as he sought to dampen down concerns about yesterday’s leaked draft of the IP chapter of ther Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. According to Groser, ‘extreme’ positions are common...
    Gordon Campbell | 21-10
  • @akltransport – Please fill in a form
    Social media has become an important tool for many organisations in how they engage with their customers. It’s become a tool for both marketing and customer service, and there are a number of examples organisations who do it right. Some...
    Transport Blog | 21-10
  • Labour’s thoughts with Canadians
    Labour has offered its sympathies to the family and friends of the Canadian soldier who died in what appears to be a premeditated and unprovoked attack while standing at guard at the Ottawa National War Memorial. “Our thoughts are also...
    Labour | 23-10
  • What next for TVNZ? Outsourcing the news?
    Television New Zealand’s decision to outsource Māori and Pacific programming is a real blow to the notion that our state broadcaster is a public broadcaster, says Labour. “CEO Kevin Kenrick has said today that TVNZ has ‘a very long and...
    Labour | 22-10
  • Green Party expresses sympathy for Canadian shooting victims
    The Green Party expressed its solidarity with Canadians and the Canadian Parliament today, offering its sympathy for family and friends of the soldier killed in the attack. "Our thoughts are with all those caught up in the shooting in Canada...
    Greens | 22-10
  • Prime Minister must honour his promise
    It’s time for John Key to honour his promise to the Pike River families, says Labour MP Damien O’Connor.  “International mine experts have confirmed the view of WorkSafe New Zealand and many miners on the West Coast that it is...
    Labour | 22-10
  • EPA finds Shell Oil illegally drilled two wells
    The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded that Shell Todd Oil Services (STOS) broke the law by drilling two wells without a marine consent off the coast of Taranaki, the Green Party said today. The EPA conducted an inspection of...
    Greens | 22-10
  • Soaring rail use in Auckland shows need for rail link now
    News that Aucklanders overtook Wellingtonians as the biggest train users is further evidence the Government needs to start work on the Auckland City Rail Link now, the Green Party said today.Auckland Transport said today that in the year to September,...
    Greens | 22-10
  • Tea breaks gone by lunch time
    Labour is calling for an eleventh hour reprieve to employment law changes which could see thousands of Kiwi workers not covered by collective agreements lose their smoko breaks, its spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says.“How cynical that on the...
    Labour | 21-10
  • Metiria Turei to lead fight on feeding hungry children
    Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei is urging all political parties to support the Feed the Kids Bill which she inherited today from Mana leader Hone Harawira.Mrs Turei, who leads the Green Party's work on child poverty, will pick up Mr...
    Greens | 21-10
  • Otago dairy farms fail basics
    I’m really privileged to take on the responsibility of the water portfolio. Eugenie Sage has done excellent work in this area in the last term of parliament and provided a great platform for further work. Last Parliament my bill to...
    Greens | 21-10
  • A mighty totara has fallen across the Tasman
    The New Zealand Labour Party expresses deep sadness at the death of former Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam, aged 98. “Today a great totara has fallen across the Tasman,” Labour’s Acting Deputy Leader Annette King says....
    Labour | 21-10
  • Note to National: Must deliver on child poverty
    John Key and his Government will be held to its promise to make child poverty a priority, Labour’s Acting Deputy Leader Annette King says. “In its priority-setting speech today the Government stated child poverty would be a major focus for...
    Labour | 21-10
  • New Analysis show Government cut tertiary education funding
    New analysis done by the Green Party today shows the Government has made cuts to funding of tertiary education since 2008.Figures compiled by the Parliamentary Library show that between 2009 and 2015 Government funding to Tertiary Institutions dropped by 4...
    Greens | 21-10
  • Students doing it tough as fees rise again
    The Government is making it increasingly difficult for Kiwis to gain tertiary education as fees continue to rise and access to student support becomes even more restricted, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Steven Joyce is shutting a generation...
    Labour | 20-10
  • Key misled New Zealand on Iraq deployment
      John Key was misleading New Zealanders prior to the election when he ruled out New Zealand special forces being deployed to Iraq, says Labour Defence Spokesperson Phil Goff.  “Post-election he has cynically disregarded that by saying that deployment of...
    Labour | 20-10
  • Swearing about swearing the oath
    Yesterday, I was swearing. Swearing the Parliamentary oath, that is. But, under my breath, I was also quietly swearing about the archaic, colonial form of that oath and its inappropriateness for today’s Aotearoa New Zealand. To be permitted to speak...
    Greens | 20-10
  • Damning report on Ruataniwha dam numbers
    When I presented my submission to the Board of Inquiry on the Tukituki Catchment Proposal I compared the proposed 83 metre high Ruataniwha dam with the Clyde Dam and noted the risk of cost blowouts in the construction process.  The...
    Greens | 20-10
  • Church congratulated on child poverty stand
    The efforts by the bishops of the Anglican Church to ensure that the issue of child poverty is not forgotten is a call to all New Zealanders to take action, says Labour’s Interfaith-Dialogue Spokesperson, Su’a William Sio.   “I think...
    Labour | 19-10
  • Labour names Review Team
    Labour’s New Zealand Council has appointed Bryan Gould as Convenor of its post-General Election Review.  He will be joined on the Review Team by Hon Margaret Wilson, Stacey Morrison and Brian Corban (see further biographical details here). The Review Team...
    Labour | 19-10
  • Labour backs urban development plans
    Auckland Council’s plan to set up an urban development agency is to be applauded and central government should get behind it to make it a success, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. Auckland Council CEO Stephen Town has indicated plans...
    Labour | 18-10
  • New Zealand can be rightly proud of seat on Security Council
    Gaining a seat on the United Nation’s Security Council shows the sort of standing that New Zealand has in the world and the quality of the long campaign that we ran over nearly a decade, says Foreign Affairs spokesperson David...
    Labour | 16-10
  • NZ has opportunity on UN Security Council
    New Zealand has an opportunity to make a major contribution to the strengthening of international law and institutional capacity through its upcoming two-year tenure on the United Nations Security Council, Green Party spokesperson on global affairs, Dr Kennedy Graham said...
    Greens | 16-10
  • MPI still dragging the chain over causes of food bug
    The Ministry of Primary Industries’ release of Environmental Science and Research’s initial reports regarding the sources of a nasty stomach bug will be little comfort to the 127 people affected by it, Labour’s Food Safety spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “This...
    Labour | 16-10
  • Treasury officials should try working without food
    The Green Party is challenging Treasury officials to work for a week without eating properly, in light of their advice to Government that a food in schools programme is not needed."Treasury's advice was that providing food for children in schools...
    Greens | 15-10
  • Councils need to better protect our drinking water
    Environment Canterbury (ECan) is proposing several variations to its regional land and water plan that will allow for increased nutrient and other pollution from irrigation and intensive agriculture on the Canterbury Plains. Commissioners are hearing submissions on Variation 1 to...
    Greens | 15-10
  • National needs to commit to making NZ workers safe
    The National Government must do more to help make New Zealand workplaces a safer place to work in, Green Party industrial relations spokesperson Denise Roche said today.Data released by Statistics New Zealand today showed that workers in the fishing and...
    Greens | 15-10
  • Key commits to deployment before consultation or analysis
    John Key’s offer to consult Opposition parties on whether to deploy New Zealand forces against ISIS looks increasingly like a PR exercise only, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson, Phil Goff. “The presence of New Zealand’s Chief of Defence Force at a...
    Labour | 15-10
  • National must end ideological opposition to raising income
    If John Key is serious about tackling child poverty he must approach it with an open mind, and overcome his ideological block to raising incomes as a solution, the Green Party said today.Papers released to Radio New Zealand today show...
    Greens | 14-10
  • Pentagon links climate change and terrorism
    Yesterday the Pentagon launched a plan to deal with a threat that “poses immediate risks to national security”; one that “will affect the Department of Defense’s ability to defend the nation”. It wasn’t referring to Ebola or ISIS. It was...
    Greens | 14-10
  • Four Nominees for Labour’s Leadership
    As at 5pm today four valid nominations had been received for the position of Labour Leader, as follows: Andrew Little(nominated by Poto Williams and Iain Lees-Galloway) Nanaia Mahuta(nominated by Louisa Wall and Su’a William Sio) David Parker(nominated by Damien O’Connor...
    Labour | 14-10
  • Green Party calls for consultation over terrorism law changes
    The Green Party has today written to the Prime Minister asking him to engage in wider consultation prior to changing any laws as a result of the recently announced terrorism law reviews, said the Green Party today. In a letter...
    Greens | 14-10
  • MPI must name product and supermarket chain
    The Ministry of Primary Industries must name the product responsible for severe gastroenteritis affecting people around the country, and the supermarket chain distributing it, Labour’s Food Safety spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The Ministry seems to be more concerned about protecting...
    Labour | 13-10
  • John Key dishonest about reasons for wanting to change terrorism law
    John Key is misleading the public to push through terrorism law changes under urgency, the Green Party said today. On Sunday, John Key stated that it is not illegal for someone to fight overseas for a terrorist group, such as...
    Greens | 12-10
  • Law changes shaping up to be worse than first thought
    The Prime Minister needs to be up front about exactly what changes he is planning to make to the Employment Relations  Amendment Bill, Labour's spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says.Interviewed on Q&A yesterday John Key said he did not...
    Labour | 12-10
  • Rapists, not Tinder, the threat to women
    Blame for rape and sexual assault should only ever be laid at the door of the perpetrator, not dating services or the actions of women themselves, Labour’s Associate Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. “Tinder is not the problem and women...
    Labour | 09-10
  • Safer Journeys For People Who Cycle
    You have a rare opportunity to tell the people who are making the decisions on cycling how to make it better. The Cycling Safety Panel is seeking feedback on their draft recommendations for improving the safety of cycling in New...
    Greens | 08-10
  • Subsidising more pollution will undermine water clean-up plan at Te Waihora...
    In 2010, NIWA found Canterbury’s Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere had the worst nutrient status of 140 lakes around New Zealand that it measured. In 2011, the National Government committed to spending $15 million across the country through the Fresh Start for...
    Greens | 08-10
  • Adding value not herbicides
    The HT swedes, and other brassicas, might seem like a good idea to farmers struggling against weeds but like the GE road, is this the path we want our agriculture to be treading? The Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston...
    Greens | 07-10
  • ‘Blame the Planner’ bizarre approach to child poverty
    The National Government is stooping to a bizarre new low in blaming "planning processes" for poverty and inequality, after spending six years doing nothing about either the housing market or child poverty, the Green Party said today. Finance Minister Bill...
    Greens | 07-10
  • Media Advisory
    MANA Leader, Hone Harawira will not be available to speak with media today regarding his release “Recount Just One Step To restoring Credibility”. He is however available for media comment tomorrow, Tuesday the 8th of October, all media arrangements are...
    Mana | 07-10
  • RECOUNT JUST ONE STEP TO RESTORING CREDIBILITY
    “I have applied for a judicial recount of the votes in the Tai Tokerau election because it is one step in trying to restore credibility to the electoral process in the north, and, I suspect, in all other Maori electorates...
    Mana | 07-10
  • MANA SEEKS TAI TOKERAU RECOUNT
    The MANA Movement is supporting Leader Hone Harawira’s application for a judicial re-count in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate for the 2014 general election. President Lisa McNab says there are a number of serious issues of concern regarding the ability...
    Mana | 07-10
  • MANA to fight mass privatisation of state housing
    Announcements over the past 12 hours from the Minister responsible for Housing New Zealand, Bill English, and Minister for Social Housing, Paula Bennett, make clear the government’s intention for the mass privatisation of state housing. This comes during the middle...
    Mana | 07-10
  • Journalists have right to protect sources
    Legal authorities must respect the right of journalist Nicky Hager to protect the source of his material for his Dirty Politics book under Section 68 of the Evidence Act, Acting Labour Leader David Parker says. “It is crucial in an...
    Labour | 06-10
  • It shouldn’t take the Army to house the homeless
    National’s move to speed up its state house sell-off shows it is bankrupt of new ideas, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “National has been in office for six years, yet the housing crisis has got worse every month and...
    Labour | 06-10
  • Government must lift social housing supply, not shuffle the deck chairs
    National's decision to shift the state provision of housing to third parties is a smokescreen for the Government decreasing the provision of affordable housing, the Green Party said today."What National should be doing is increasing the supply of both social...
    Greens | 06-10
  • Election 2014 – the final count
    While we have to wait for the final booth level counts we can now see how well we did in the specials and look at electorate level data. First off special votes (and disallowed/recounted votes etc). There was a change...
    Greens | 06-10
  • We need more houses, not Ministers
    The Government’s decision to have three housing Ministers will create a dog’s breakfast of the portfolio and doesn’t bode well for fixing the country’s housing crisis, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “New Zealanders need more houses, not more Ministers....
    Labour | 05-10
  • MANA’S CHALLENGE TO THE 51st PARLIAMENT
    Ten years ago I led 50,000 Maori on the historic FORESHORE AND SEABED MARCH from Te Rerenga Wairua to the very steps of this parliament, in a march against the greatest land grab in the history of this country –...
    Mana | 03-10
  • Is this really necessary?
    No one denies chief executives should be well paid for their skills and experience, but it is the efforts of all employees which contribute to company profits, Labour’s Acting Leader David Parker says. “Salaries paid to chief executives come at...
    Labour | 02-10
  • Lyttelton Port workers also deserve pay rises
    Hard slog by Lyttelton Port workers contributed to strong financial growth for the company and they deserve to be rewarded for their work as much as its chief executive, says Labour’s Acting Leader David Parker. “Lyttelton Port chief executive Peter...
    Labour | 02-10
  • 5AA Australia – NZ on UN Security Council + Dirty Politics Lingers On
    5AA Australia: Selwyn Manning and Peter Godfrey deliver their weekly bulletin Across The Ditch. General round up of over night talkback issues: Thongs, Jandals and flip-flops… ISSUE 1: New Zealand has been successful in its campaign to become a non...
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • When I mean me, I mean my office & when I call whaleoil I mean not as m...
    This. Is. Ludicrous. Green Party co-leader Russel Norman put the first of what are likely to be many questions about Mr Key’s relationship with Slater, asking him how many times he had phoned or texted the blogger since 2008. “None...
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • A brief word on describing the Government as ‘boring and bland’
    The narrative being sown is that this Government will be a boring and bland third term. Boring and bland. Since the election, Key has announced he is privatising 30% of state houses without reinvesting any of that money back into housing society’s most...
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • More Latté Than Lager: Reflections on Grant Robertson’s Campaign Launch.
    BIKERS? SERIOUSLY! Had Grant Robertson’s campaign launch been organised by Phil Goff? Was this a pitch for the votes of what few Waitakere Men remain in the Labour Party? Was I even at the right place? Well, yes, I was....
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • About Curwen Ares Rolinson
    Curwen Ares Rolinson – Curwen Ares Rolinson is a firebrand young nationalist presently engaged in acts of political resistance deep behind enemy lines amidst the leafy boughs of Epsom. He is affiliated with the New Zealand First Party; although his...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • About Kelly Ellis
    Kelly Ellis.Kelly Ellis – As a child, Kelly Ellis didn’t so much fall into the cracks, but willfully wriggled her way into them. Ejected from Onslow College – a big job in the 70s – Kelly worked in car factories,...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • About Kate Davis
    Kate Davis.Kate Davis – Having completed her BA in English and Politics, Kate is now starting her MA. Kate works as a volunteer advocate at Auckland Action Against Poverty and previously worked for the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective. Kate writes...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • Parker does a Shearer – oh for a Labour Leader who can challenge msm fals...
    Sigh. It seems David Parker has done a Shearer… Like a cult and too red – Parker on LabourLabour leadership contender David Parker says Labour borders on feeling like “a cult” and must look at its branding – including its...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • A brief word on the hundreds of millions NZ is spending on the secret intel...
    The enormity of the mass surveillance state NZ Government’s have built carries a huge price tag… Kiwis pay $103m ‘membership fee’ for spyingThe $103 million taxpayer funding of New Zealand’s intelligence agencies is effectively a membership fee for joining the...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • Where. Is. Jason. Ede?
    Where. Is. Jason. Ede?...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • Labour’s Din of Inequity
    Watching Labour’s leadership candidates on Q+A on Sunday, I noticed the ongoing use of terms like “opportunity” and “aspiration”, and “party of the workers”. What do these mean? We glean much from Labour, and from the media about Labour, but not...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • “Blue-Greenwash” fails the test when it comes to endangered dolphins
    National’s pre-election promises saw some wins for the environment – perhaps as the party sought to appease its “Blue-Green” voters and broaden its popular appeal. Some of the ecological gains were a long time in the making, overdue even– such...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • Reasons not to be cheerful, Part #272b
    Why don’t you get back into bed? The next few years — the rest of this century — are not going to be pretty. There is an obvious disconnect between any remaining political ambition to fix climate change and the...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • OIA protocols and official advice ignored to hide Child Poverty
    It might not seem so now, but child poverty was a major election issue. What a pity we did not have the full debate. In that debate it would have been very helpful to have seen the Ministry of Social...
    The Daily Blog | 20-10
  • Previewing the 4 candidates for Leader of the Labour Party
    The extraordinary outbursts by Shearer last week highlights just how toxic that Caucus is. Shearer was on every major media platform as the ABC attack dog tearing into Cunliffe in the hope of diminishing Cunliffe’s support of Little by tearing...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Kate Davis – the sudden explosion of ‘left’ blogs
    Time to Teach or more people will suffer from P.A.I.D. Political And Intellectual Dysmorphia.I was on the Twitter and a guy followed me so of course I did the polite thing and followed him back. He wrote a blog so...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • Ego vs Eco
    Ego vs Eco...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • We can’t let the Roastbuster case slip away
    Those of us (like me) left with hope that the police would aggressively follow through on the large amount of evidence on offer to them (let’s not forget they forgot they even had some at one point) in the Roastbusters...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • Food, shelter and medicine instead of bombs and bullets
    The on-going conflict across the Middle East – due in large part to the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq – has created another humanitarian crisis of biblical proportion. The essentials of life are desperately needed in Iraq and Syria...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • The politics of electorate accommodations
    National’s electorate accommodations with ACT and United Future were a big factor in it winning re-election. Interestingly, there is another electorate accommodation scenario whereby the centre-left could have come out on top, even with the same distribution of party votes....
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • Why you should join the TPPA Action on 8 November
    On 8 November 2014, thousands of Kiwis will take part in the International Day of Action to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The rally cry for us is TPPA – Corporate Trap, Kiwis Fight Back. Why should you join...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • GUEST BLOG – Patrick O’Dea: no new coal mines
    Green Party and Mana Party policy is “NO NEW COAL MINES!” Auckland Coal Action is trying to put this policy into action on the ground. ACA after a hard fought two year campaign waged alongside local residents and Iwi, in...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • Comparing Police action – Hager raid vs Roast Buster case
    This satire had the NZ Police contact TDB and threaten us with 6months in prison for using their logo.   The plight of Nicky Hager and the draconian Police actions against him has generated over  $53 000 in donations so...
    The Daily Blog | 18-10
  • Malala Yousafzai, White Saviour Complexes and Local Resistance
    Last week, Malala Yousafzai was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Since her exposure to the worldwide spotlight, her spirit, wisdom and strength have touched the hearts of people everywhere. However, there have been cynics who have argued that...
    The Daily Blog | 18-10
  • Jason Ede is back – but no media can interview him?
    Well, well, well. Jason Ede, the main figure connected to John Key’s office and the Dirty Politics black ops is back with a company with deep ties to the National Party. One thing you can say about the right –...
    The Daily Blog | 18-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Curwen Rolinson – Leadership Transitions In Other Parties: A ...
    As cannot have escaped anyone’s attention by now, the country is presently in the grips of an election and campaign that will help determine the fate of the nation for years to come. It’s gripping stuff – with clear divides...
    The Daily Blog | 17-10
  • SkyCity worker says she faces losing her house
    SkyCity worker Carolyn Alpine told the company annual shareholder’s meeting today that she faced the prospect of losing her house because the company had cut her shifts from two a week to one without consultation. The solo mother, has worked...
    The Daily Blog | 17-10
  • Greg O’Connor’s latest push to arm cops & 5 reasons not to
    I was wondering at what point within a 3rd term of National that Police Cheerleader Greg O’Connor would start trying to demand cops be armed. O’Connor must have thought to himself, ‘if bloody Key can get us and the GCSB vast new...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • You can’t have crisis without ISIS
    So the new scary bogeyman ISIS might have chemical weapons that the US secretly found in Iraq, but America didn’t want to expose this find because the WMDs were actually built and made by the US and Europe, the two powers...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • NZ WINS UN SPIN THE BOTTLE! Privately sucking up to America for a decade me...
    Oh, we are loved! Little old NZ, the 53rd state of America after Israel and Australia, gets to sit at the adults table for the special dinner party that is the UN Security Council. How delightful, a decade of privately...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • MEDIA BLOG – Myles Thomas – A World Without Advertising
    Non-commercial broadcasting and media. It’s a solution for all manner of problems ailing our tender nation… voter engagement, unaccountable governance, apathy, stupefaction, public education, science in schools, arts appreciation, cultural cringe… But no-one could’ve guessed that non-commercial media might solve...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • March against war – 2pm Saturday 25th October
    March against war – 2pm Saturday 25th October...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • Whack a mole as US govt foreign policy
    Whack-A-Mole was a popular arcade game from my youth.  It consisted of a waist high cabinet with holes in the top. Plastic moles seemingly randomly pop out of these holes. The purpose of the game was to hit as many...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • In Paean of Debt
    This week is ‘Money Week’. It’s an opportunity to promote to the middle classes, and anyone else who will listen, the virtues of wise ‘investment’. The aims are to promote the mystical (and indeed mythical) virtues of saving for the...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • The last 48 hours – Poverty denial, war denial and unapologetic abuse of ...
    The bewildering speed of events that simply end in Key shrugging and proclaiming he doesn’t really give a shit is coming think and fast as the Government suddenly appreciate the full spectrum dominance they now enjoy. Here is Radio NZ...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Pat O’Dea – Mana 2.0 Rebooted
    Internationally the news is that Evo Morales of Bolivia won big with Left Wing policies But what are the chances that the Left will make a resurgence in this country? As the internecine struggles between the Left and the Right...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • The Blomfield IPCA letter – Has Dirty Politics leaked into the NZ Police ...
    It’s difficult to know what to make of the IPCA letter to Matthew Blomfield over Slater’s continued insistence that the hard drive taken from Matthew wasn’t stolen.  Slater has selectively cherry picked the Police referring back to his claim that Blomfeild perjured...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • ​Media release: Rail and Maritime Transport Union – Auckland move for K...
    The Rail and Maritime Transport Union is questioning a KiwiRail proposal to progressively relocate its Zero Harm personnel from Wellington to Auckland. “The purpose of the Zero Harm team is to drive KiwiRail’s performance in health and safety.  Rail is a...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • Amnesty International – Friend request from an IS militant
    There’s always that one person, that one Facebook friend, usually a musician or event promoter, who, when you so foolishly accept their friend request, will completely inundate your news feed with copious event invitations and promotions. The person who, despite...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • NZ should follow the UK and recognize the Palestinian state
    Over the past two weeks, the United Kingdom and Sweden have made headlines through their decisions to recognize the state of Palestine. They are hardly the first nations to do so. Indeed, 134 countries have, in various ways, given formal...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • The Discordant Chimes of Freedom: Why Labour has yet to be forgiven.
    WHY DOES THE ELECTORATE routinely punish Labour and the Greens for their alleged “political correctness” but not National? It just doesn’t seem fair. Consider, for example, the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 – the so-called “anti-smacking legislation” –...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • Hosking or Henry – Which right wing crypto fascist clown do you want to w...
    So Mediaworks are finally going to make some actual money from their eye watering contract with Paul Henry by launching a new multi-platform Breakfast show over TV, Radio and internet. This is great news for Campbell Live who have dodged...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • Families need more money to reduce child poverty
    Prime Minister John Key is mistaken to rule out extending the In Work Tax Credit to all poor children (The Nation 11th Oct) and Child Poverty Action Group challenges government advisors to come up with a more cost effective way...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Kelly Ellis – Don’t shit on my dream
    Once were dreamers. A large man, walks down the road and, even from 200 yards there’s light showing between his big arms and bigger body. It’s as if he’s put tennis balls under his arms. Two parking wardens walk out...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • Labour and ‘special interests’
    The media narrative of Labour is that it is unpopular because it’s controlled by ‘special interests’. This ‘special interests’ garbage is code for gays, Maoris, wimin and unionists. We should show that argument the contempt it deserves. The next Labour...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Ru...
    . . Continued from: Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi) . National’s housing development project: ‘Gateway’ to confusion . Perhaps nothing better illustrates National’s lack of a coherent housing programme than the ‘circus’ that is...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • Here’s what WINZ are patronisingly saying to people on welfare when they ...
    Yesterday, a case manager from WINZ called to tell me that I needed to “imagine what I would do if I did not have welfare”. I replied “Well, I guess if I couldn’t live at home, I would be homeless.”...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • David Shearer’s ‘no feminist chicks’ mentality highlights all that is...
    Mr Nasty pays a visit Shearer’s extraordinary outburst last night on NZs favourite redneck TV, The Paul Henry Show, is a reminder of all that is wrong within the Labour Caucus right now… He said the current calls for a female or...
    The Daily Blog | 13-10
  • Greenpeace 1 – Shell 0
    Greenpeace 1 – Shell 0...
    The Daily Blog | 13-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Kate Davis – A Tale Of Two Cities
    Sunday was surreal. I went for a drive and ended up in a different country. It wasn’t intentional but those days of too many literally intertextual references seldom are. There is no doubt that the Sunday drive this week had...
    The Daily Blog | 13-10
  • Press statement in relation to search of Nicky Hager’s home
    On 2 October 2014, Nicky Hager's home in Wellington was searched by police. Mr Hager asserted that documents kept at his house were protected by privilege, including because they contained information that might identify confidential sources....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • The Sam Simon arrives into Auckland for new campaign
    This morning Sea Shepherd ship, the Sam Simon, arrived into Auckland harbour after its journey from Melbourne. The ship and its 25 crew from around the globe have come to New Zealand to source supplies and prepare for the upcoming...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Low inflation – time for meaningful wage increases
    With inflation low, now is a good time for workers to negotiate for pay increases that outstrip price rises and deliver real increases in wages and salaries. “For too many people, real pay increases have been missing for several years...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Auckland Rates Rises Out of Control
    Responding to the NZ Herald report that Auckland ratepayers will face an average of a 29 percent rates increase, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says: “These rate rises show that Len Brown's spending is out of control.”...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Protest at New Plymouth Oil and Gas Expo
    About 30 protesters from Climate Justice Taranaki, Frack-free Kapiti, Te Uru Pounamu Action Group, Oil Free Wellington, Frack-free Manawatu and the east coast protested yesterday outside New Plymouth's biennial Oil and Gas Expo at the TSB Stadium....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • FMA warns consumers about cold-calling investment offers
    The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) is warning New Zealand consumers and investors to be wary of cold-calls asking them to buy shares or put their money into offshore firms....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Comprehensive plan needed to end child poverty
    Child Poverty Action Group says it is vital the newly re-elected National government takes a planned and comprehensive approach to reducing child poverty in New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Metiria Gets Feed the Kids
    Yesterday the Speaker of the House advised that he had accepted my request to transfer my Feed the Kids (Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools) Amendment) Bill to Metiria Turei of the Green Party....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • DIA undercover investigation leads to jailing
    An undercover Internal Affairs investigation has led to a Hastings man being jailed for three and half years....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Call on Minister McCully to pursue the case of Balibo Five
    Media Information: Call on Minister McCully to pursue the case of journalist Gary Cunningham and the Balibo Five...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Australia and NZ actions on press freedoms alarming
    Global support for investigative journalism in Australia and New Zealand is a welcome response to law changes and a police raid, says the Pacific Freedom Forum...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Call for release of French journalists in West Papua
    West Papua Action Auckland, the EPMU Print and Media Council and the NZ Media Freedom Network call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to speak out in support of the two French TV journalists whose trial has just begun in...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Court of Appeal: Dotcom v 20th Century Fox Film Corporation
    A The appeal is dismissed. B The 20 August 2014 order of the High Court dealing with confidentiality and the 29 August 2014 order of this Court dealing with confidentiality are set aside. C The confidentiality orders set out in...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Glassons Blasted For Glamourising Animal Cruelty
    Clothing brand Glassons have found themselves embroiled in another controversy after launching a new advert featuring a girl riding a bull. Animal advocacy organisation SAFE have asked them to remove the ad immediately as it glamourises animal cruelty....
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Smuggling honey into New Zealand isn’t sweet
    Smuggling honey into New Zealand isn’t sweet Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group applauds the tough line taken by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Border Staff at Auckland Airport. In deporting the couple found trying to smuggle bee products...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Taxpayers’ Union Responds to Joyce on Corporate Welfare
    Responding to Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce’s defence of corporate welfare , Jim Rose, the author of Monopoly Money , a Taxpayers Union report on corporate welfare since 2008, says:...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Speech from the Throne brings welcome focus on children
    Today’s speech from the Throne confirms the Government’s focus on children, youth and their families in the areas of health, education, youth employment, poverty alleviation and Whānau Ora; now the challenge is to ensure every child in New Zealand...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • John’s Job Fairs no fix for unemployment and poverty
    “John Key has clearly been looking to the US for his latest bright idea on dealing with employment issues,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Sue Bradford. “Job fairs where the desperately unemployed queue in their corporate best to compete...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Speech From the Throne Foreshadows More Corporate Welfare
    Responding to the Governor General’s Speech from the Throne, which outlined that the Government’s intentions for the next Parliamentary term would include further Business Growth Agenda initiatives, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Green MP to speak at panel on Rainbow Mental Health
    Hamilton, New Zealand: Recently re-elected Green Party MP Jan Logie will be a guest speaker at a panel on the mental health of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trangender, Takataapui and Intersex people taking place on November 1st as part of the...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Evidence Supports GE Moratorium
    Federated Farmers spokesman Graham Smith's call for a 'rethink' on release of GeneticallyEngineered organisms is misguided, and instead it is time for a formal moratorium on GMOs in the environment.(1)...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Chatham Rise mining could have impact on whales and dolphins
    Wellington, 21 October 2014--Mining phosphate on the Chatham Rise, off the east coast of New Zealand’s south island, could potentially have many impacts on marine mammals like whales and dolphins, the Environmental Protection Agency was told today....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Council endorses Nanaia Mahuta as the next Labour leader
    Te Kaunihera Māori, the Māori Council of the New Zealand Labour Party, have passed a resolution to endorse the Hon Nanaia Mahuta as the next leader of the Labour Party...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Kaumatua to organise petition to end Maori seats
    Ngapuhi kaumatua David Rankin has announced that he will be organising a nationwide petition to seek support from Maori voters to end the Maori seats. “These seats are patronising”, he says. “They imply we need a special status, and that...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Announcing a New Voice for The Left
    Josh Forman is pleased to announce the creation of a new force on the Left of politics in New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Public services held back by poor workplace culture
    A new report by Victoria University’s Centre for Labour, Employment and Work shows that public servants are working significant unpaid overtime to ensure the public services New Zealanders value are able to continue....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • iPredict New Zealand Weekly Economic & Political Update
    Andrew Little’s probability of being the next leader of the Labour Party has reached 70% and Jacinda Ardern is favourite to become his deputy, according to the combined wisdom of the 8000+ registered traders on New Zealand’s predictions market, iPredict....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Prison Drug Treatment Unit marks a milestone
    Christchurch Men’s Prison’s Drug Treatment Unit (DTU) celebrated the completion of its 50th six month Drug and Alcohol Programme today, with the graduation of a further twelve offenders....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Security Council seat a chance for NZ to empower women
    The UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand (UN Women NCANZ) welcomes New Zealand winning a seat on the United Nations Security Council and is calling on New Zealand to use its position to proactively promote effective implementation of the...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Waipareira and ACC sign Partnership
    Waipareira and The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding at Whanau Centre, Henderson – marking a special day for the West Auckland Urban Maori organisation....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Humanitarian aid desperately needed in Iraq and Syria
    Global Peace and Justice Auckland is calling on the government to provide humanitarian funding for non-aligned NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in the Middle East rather than give any support whatever for the US-led military campaign in the area....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Court Judicial Decision: Dotcom v The USA: 17 October 2014
    The United States of America is seeking the extradition of Messrs Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and Van Der Kolk. The matter has been before the Courts on numerous occasions, and no further recitation of the facts is needed....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Marshall Island poet speaks at UN climate summit
    “The fossil fuel industry is the biggest threat to our very existence as Pacific Islanders. We stand to lose our homes, our communities and our culture. But we are fighting back. This coming Friday thirty Pacific Climate Warriors, joined by...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Many tourist car accidents preventable
    Simple steps could dramatically reduce the number of accidents involving tourists, says the car review website dogandlemon.com ....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • RainbowYOUTH: 25 Years, 25 More
    In 1989, a group of young people in Auckland got together to form a support group for LGBTIQ youth. They called it Auckland Lesbian And Gay Youth (ALGY). After 25 years, several location changes, a name change, a brand reboot...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Outdated Oath shows need for Kiwi Head of State
    MPs are sworn in today and New Zealand Republic has written to MPs asking them to talk about why 121 New Zealanders elected by the people of New Zealand and standing in the New Zealand Parliament swear allegiance to another...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Council shouldn’t revenue grab from windfall valuations
    Auckland Council should state clearly they will not try and capture revenue as a result of the latest valuations and needs reminding that the City’s skyrocketing property values doesn’t change the level or cost of Council’s services, says...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • EPMU endorses Andrew Little for Labour leadership
    The National Executive of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union unanimously endorsed Andrew Little for the role of Labour leader, at a meeting held yesterday. “I have been speaking to our workplace delegates at forums across the country over...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • World Food Day promotes Agroecology not GE technology
    The UN has stated that agroecology is a major solution to feeding the world and caring for the earth....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Labour Names Review Team
    Labour’s New Zealand Council has appointed Bryan Gould as Convenor of its post-General Election Review. He will be joined on the Review Team by Hon Margaret Wilson, Stacey Morrison and Brian Corban....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Contenders for Labour leadership debate for first time
    The contenders for the leadership of the Labour Party debated for the first time on TV One’s Q+A programme today....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • UN Ambassador Jim McLay on TV One’s Q+A programme
    New Zealand's United Nations Ambassador Jim McLay on TV One’s Q+A programme....
    Scoop politics | 18-10
  • The Nation: RSA President BJ Clark & Ian Taylor, New NZ Flag
    Lisa Owen interviews RSA President BJ Clark and tech innovator Ian Taylor about changing the NZ flag...
    Scoop politics | 18-10
  • The Nation: RSA President BJ Clark & Ian Taylor, New NZ Flag
    Lisa Owen interviews RSA President BJ Clark and tech innovator Ian Taylor about changing the NZ flag...
    Scoop politics | 18-10
  • Lisa Owen interviews Foreign Minister Murray McCully
    Murray McCully says New Zealanders can expect a 5-10 year engagement against Islamic State if we join military action in Iraq and the government will take that “very carefully into account”...
    Scoop politics | 18-10
  • Lisa Owen interviews Julia Gillard
    Julia Gillard says there is “sufficient evidence” to fight Islamic State and does not think it will increase the risk of a domestic attack...
    Scoop politics | 18-10
  • NZ businesses to make child abuse a priority conversation
    Many leading New Zealand businesses have partnered with national child advocacy organisation Child Matters to participate in the fourth annual ‘Buddy Day’ - New Zealand’s only child abuse prevention awareness day....
    Scoop politics | 17-10
  • Tribunal decision significant for SMEs
    The Human Rights Review Tribunal decided this week in favour of an employee’s right not to work on Saturdays for religious reasons. The decision may still be appealed but the Director of the Office of Human Rights Proceedings, Robert Kee,...
    Scoop politics | 17-10
  • On The Nation this weekend
    This weekend on The Nation… New Zealand has been elected to the United Nations Security Council, but what happens next? Lisa Owen interviews Foreign Minister Murray McCully from New York about our goals for reform, what America wants from us...
    Scoop politics | 17-10
  • 1000+ supported by Te Arawa Whanau Ora
    Over 1000 individual whānau members are leading happier, healthier, more successful lives as a result of eight passionate and committed Māori organisations working at the coalface to help whānau find success....
    Scoop politics | 17-10
Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere