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Nationalise Air New Zealand

Written By: - Date published: 8:59 am, March 18th, 2008 - 64 comments
Categories: assets, workers' rights - Tags: ,

160The recent scandal over Air New Zealand underpaying its Chinese workers to the tune of four times less than their New Zealand counterparts comes as no surprise given the sick management culture at our national carrier, and highlights some serious contradictions in the airline’s ownership structure.

Here we have a company that’s 80% owned by us, the New Zealand public, and yet because it is structured as a private company it’s allowed to act unethically and even undermine our national interests in the pursuit of short-term profit.

You will recall how Air New Zealand secretly ferried troops to Iraq in defiance of the New Zealand public, half-succeeded in gutting our high-skill, high-wage aircraft engineering industry, and has tried to cut the wages of thousands of Kiwi workers by contracting their jobs to third parties at lower rates and outsourcing anything that can’t be nailed down to low-wage economies.

It’s time we got some democratic control over our national carrier by bringing it into full public ownership and strengthened our labour laws to stop the airline undermining its workers’ pay and conditions.

Helen Clark shouldn’t be excusing Air New Zealand’s behaviour – she should be nationalising it.

64 comments on “Nationalise Air New Zealand”

  1. Santi 1

    “Helen Clark shouldn’t be excusing Air New Zealand’s behaviour – she should be nationalising it.”

    That’s laughable Tane. Why do you stop there? Why don’t you propose the nationalision of Fletcher Building, Hubbard Cereals, Steel & Tube, AIA, and the rest of private enterprise?

    You should come clean and propose a socialist state where shareholder rights equal zero and the state owns everything. Otherwise let Air NZ deal with the wages problem in its own way, based on commercial realities, not political dogmatism.

  2. Billy 2

    Great idea, Tane. Turn a profitable business giving the taxpayer a return into a social service subsidised by the taxpayer.

  3. Daveo 3

    Why do you stop there? Why don’t you propose the nationalision of Fletcher Building, Hubbard Cereals, Steel & Tube, AIA, and the rest of private enterprise?

    We probably should, but that’s a different story. Air New Zealand is a strategic asset owned by the public but it’s not acting like it. Making it an SOE would mean it would have to be a decent employer and the public would have more control over how it operated. You definitely wouldn’t see any more secret flights to Iraq.

    This seems both in tune with Santi’s ‘commercial reality’ and Billy’s ‘profitable business giving the taxpayer a return’.

  4. Tane 4

    Funny how the right’s tone has changed on this over the last few days.

    On Saturday Farrar was calling for the government to act on its rhetoric and pull Air NZ into line, and his commenters agreed heartily.

    Now that a plan to protect wages and rein in corporate management has been presented the right are screaming.

    Be careful what you wish for guys, political opportunism can come back to bite you.

  5. Phil 5

    Yeah Tane, there’s absolutely no difference between
    A) the Govt using it’s shareholing ‘muscle’ against something it dissaproves of (Daves)
    and B) Nationalising the whole damn thing (Tanes)

  6. Tane 6

    Of course Phil you know that the existence of minority shareholders means the Companies Act severely restricts the Government’s ability to exercise any meaningful democratic control over Air New Zealand’s management.

  7. Tane 7

    We also wouldn’t be ‘nationalising the whole damn thing’ – we’d simply buy out the remaining 20% minority shareholding.

  8. Daveo 8

    Ouch. Mention nationalisation and the Tories get themselves into a right frenzy.

    You have to feel sorry for the wee beggars though – they want to play politics by calling on the government to protect the workers, it’s just they don’t like the left-wing consequences of what that would mean.

    [captcha – “for investor”]

  9. Matthew Pilott 9

    Just goes to show where some people’s values lie. 80% owned by the NZ taxpayer; people appear to be happy for it to be using unfair and discriminatory pay scales, and the company actively tring to disadvantage NZ workers in other areas – but who gives a toss if it’s making money, right?

    That’s all that counts right, commercial realities? I mean hell Santi, why would we care that our $350 designer jeans are made at 18c an hour in China? That’s a commercial reality too right?

  10. Benodic 10

    MP- what’s even more interesting is a lot of Air NZ’s commercial decisions have been poorly thought out.

    Take the aircraft engineering: they outsourced half of it to China (after trying to outsource the whole lot), then when business picked up they couldn’t get enough people to do the work because they’ve engineered a skills shortage.

    That’s because when they did the outsourcing a lot of the skilled aircraft engineers went overseas for work – my brother in law’s a good example – and because the pay rates in NZ have been slashed Air NZ can’t get them to come back. It’s an international labour market and they’ve truly shot themselves in the foot.

    The fact is a major strategic asset like Air NZ needs long-term thinking rather than short-term profiteering, but the current model of ownership only has a horizon of 3-5 years.

  11. Snelly Boy 11

    Tane, have to disagree with you on this one.

    All we’ve read in the papers so far is a story fed to the media by Delamere from a disgruntled ex-worker. I’d suggest no ‘facts’ have been presented publicly to date.

    However, everyone is jumping the gun making grandiose statements based simply on the Herald’s reporting.

    In particular, no one has bothered to explore Chinese labour laws under which these cabin crew are employed.

    There appears to be an assumption that Chinese workers can be run roughshod over. I can assure you from experience that labour laws there are very protective of the worker including the need for the employer to make compulsory payments to a medical, maternity, pension and even housing fund.

    It’s also very likely that Air NZ had no choice under Chinese law about employing via a contractor.

    One thing you can be assured of with the Chinese and that is overseas companies get away with nothing in regards to workers rights.

    Did the Herald do the obvious things such as establish exactly what these cabin crew earn, what the typical industry pay scales are for Chinese cabin crew and most obviously, are any other cabin crew dissatisfied other than this dismissed employee.

    It’s like Wishart’s secret ferrying story? There was no secret, only full prior disclosure by Air NZ to Govt officials. It was a beat up that evreyone then used for own political gains.

    Everyone should await the outcome of the workers legal dispute with Air NZ to establish fact rather than being used as PR puppets by Delamere to push his client’s case.

    This all has a funny side though and that is old Whaleoil asserting that the release of the Air NZ story was a govt smoke screen to deflect from the HBDHB report release. This 9th floor ‘scandal’ was a hot tip from a number of his reliable sources.

    Fact is, there were no such sources or they are as deluded with paranoia as the Whale is. I’d suggest the former.

    Can you imagine Delamere being the stool pigeon for a 9th floor political snow job?

  12. insider 12

    The NZ Govt employs hundreds of people overseas at its embassies and high commissions. Do you think they are paid the local rate or the NZ rate? Is that fair or unfair?

    Should Fonterra’s staff in their UK or Australia subsidiaries be paid the same as their NZ equivalents just to be ‘fair’? How many do you think they could attract?

  13. Snelly Boy, youve gone off topic, the issue is that the Chinese workers are being paid bugger all for doing exactly the same work as the New Zealand workers.

  14. big bruv 14

    Why on earth would we care what people are paid in China?, I could not give a toss.

    I detest Klark with a passion but on this I happen to agree with her, it is none of our business and if Air NZ happen to return a better profit to its shareholders by employing cheaper labour then good on them.

    The real issue for me is our 80% share holding, what on earth is our govt doing owning an Airline anyway.

  15. Steve Pierson 15

    insider. those comparisons don’t stand because you’re talking people on the same flight, doing exactly the same role

  16. Snelly Boy 16

    Steve P., do you know the split of kiwi/chinese on board a single flight?

    There seems to be a notion of a ‘mixed’ crew. My observation was that it was all Chinese with maybe a couple of kiwi supervisors only.

    I spend on average 4 to 6 weeks a year in London working. Whilst there do I expect my salary to be increased 2 to 3 times to match my colleagues there doing exactly the same tasks as me? Of course not.

    Plus I reiterate, people commenting here are doing so based on assumptions gleaned from a newspaper story. I thought the Stranded community would be far smarter than that.

  17. MikeE 17

    Lets nationalise teh Warehouse while we are at it eh.

    Tane, why the hell should someone on a low income, who can barely afford the rent, be subsidising mine and my companies airfares around the country and beyond?

  18. Matthew Pilott 18

    Why on earth would we care what people are paid in China?, I could not give a toss.

    There goes the neighbourhood.

    big bruv, for example, do you disagree with the law that you can be charged in New Zealand for using child prostitutes overseas? I mean who cares about thai children?

    Extreme example (and in no way meant to be directly compared to Air NZ) but I’m wondering how much exploitation is a good level for low-life scum such as big bruv?

    You got any kids?

  19. Matthew Pilott 19

    MikeE, a functioning airline is probably fairly important to the economic well-being of New Zealand. I’d go so far as to argue that it is important whether it is economic or not – this type of interconnection is pretty important these days, even with the prevalence of electronic communication.

    The Warehouse isn’t important in this respect, has never been publicly owned as far as I’m aware, and isn’t part of a modern country’s critical infrastructure.

    Someone on a low income, barely able to afford rent, might be putting half a cent into Air NZ – I don’t even know about that – isn’t it making a profit? Maybe it’s the other way around. Fact is, having a decent airline, like roads, telecommunications cables and rail are the basis and foundation for much employment in this country – might even be the reason your wee chap has that low-income job in the first place. That this needs explaining is a worry, to tell the truth.

  20. Tane 20

    Lets nationalise teh Warehouse while we are at it eh.

    While I don’t have an objection to that in principle it’s not a high priority of mine. There are a lot more pressing needs on public funds.

    Tane, why the hell should someone on a low income, who can barely afford the rent, be subsidising mine and my companies airfares around the country and beyond?

    You’re not subsidising airfares by requiring decent labour standards.

    Is the Government subsidising coal and the postage system by having Solid Energy and NZ Post under public ownership?

  21. Steve P., do you know the split of kiwi/chinese on board a single flight?

    There seems to be a notion of a ‘mixed’ crew. My observation was that it was all Chinese with maybe a couple of kiwi supervisors only.

    I spend on average 4 to 6 weeks a year in London working. Whilst there do I expect my salary to be increased 2 to 3 times to match my colleagues there doing exactly the same tasks as me? Of course not.

    But if you were moved there permently you might expect that.

  22. Policy Parrot 22

    Full nationalisation should be a last resort.

    What we should be asking is why are the management of AirNZ acting so unethically? Unlike the right, I don’t believe that private enterprise requires no moral barometer.

    If it is the case that such ethical leadership is non-existant in NZ’s private sector, then nationalisation may have be considered.

  23. Tane 23

    Full nationalisation should be a last resort.

    Why?

    What we should be asking is why are the management of AirNZ acting so unethically? Unlike the right, I don’t believe that private enterprise requires no moral barometer.

    Unfortunately the Companies Act disagrees. Companies are legally required to act in the interests of all their shareholders, and so long as there are minority shareholders with a stake in Air New Zealand the company is legally required to maximise profit in an amoral fashion.

  24. insider 24

    Steve

    Are you telling me that no NZ overseas post has a NZ employee and a foreign one working alongside each other at similar roles but with different T&Cs? Are you telling me Fonterra does not have the same? Or Air NZ in its overseas offices, or NZTE or F&P?

    What you probably don’t know is that AIr NZ does it domestically. Former Mt Cook employees are in a separate company and have different T&Cs from Air NZ staff. I wonder if it is the same for the former Freedom staff?

  25. big bruv 25

    Matthew

    I am surprised that you would ever have a harsh word to say about the socialist mecca that is China.
    Need I remind you that these CONTRACTORS are NOT kiwi’s, they are not our problem.

    The Thai children you use as an example says more about you than I think you intended, in true socialist scum fashion you are prepared to use anybody or anything to achieve your goals.

    The difference between you and I is that I would gladly shoot those who use child prostitutes, you however would rather council the pedophile and let him out again in a few years (as long as he voted Labour) to inflict his “will” on more innocent children.

  26. Matthew Pilott 26

    insider, employees of Mt Cook Airlines and Air Nelson (Which is actually the largest separate company integarted in Air NZ’s service umbrella) are covered under NZ employment law and subject to NZ market conditions. Unless you wish to claim they’re being paid 1/4 of that of Air NZ employees I don’t see the relevance.

    As for Fonterra – what stakeholder percentage does the government own?

  27. Tane 27

    MP – the relevance I would see is Air NZ’s continued practise of contracting out to undermine its workers’ pay and conditions.

  28. big bruv 28

    Tane

    Is this the same Air NZ that is 80% owned by the people of NZ?

    Perhaps you should have a world with dear corrupt leader.

  29. Matthew Pilott 29

    big bruv – so you care about some people overseas, but only in some circumstances. Would you like to explain where you draw the line? You see, in both cases, the practice wouldn’t be legal in New Zealand (depending on the actual working conditions of the Air NZ staff. If they are paid 1/4 of those in NZ, NZ flight attendatts would have to be paid about $44 an hour for their chinese counterparts to be paid at a rate that is legal in New Zealand). Therefore many would call this exploitation.

    What level of exploitation do you find satisfactory, big bruv?

    I’ll ignore your bigoted and vacuous last statement, you’re clearly unable to conduct sustained rational discourse (although you did well at the start, even if you missed my point and went with the childish temptation to make baseless generalisations instead of trying to discuss the point at hand) which is a shame.

    Tane – fair call, though in this case I’d be more concerned with an income variance of 400% (if overseas employees are being paid 1/4 the rate of those here), than a smaller domestic variance, as the Mt Cook Air and Air Nelson employees are covered under NZ Employment Law.

  30. Tane 30

    Is this the same Air NZ that is 80% owned by the people of NZ?

    Perhaps you should have a world with dear corrupt leader.

    Bruv, I’d rather not have to call you stupid, but, well, you’re stupid.
    What do you think the point of this post was?

  31. insider 31

    Matthew

    Re Mt Cook/Air Nelson, when absorbed by AirNZ their T&Cs were kept separate in the same way as the Chinese Air NZ staff, yet do the same jobs, and I’m talking about ground crew not air crew. You used the phrase “unfair and discriminatory pay scales” and I gave an example. Is it only relevant if there is a 4 times gap? WHere is the principle in that?

    If government ownership is the benchmark for concern about such discrimination, what about MFAT posts abroad?

  32. Daveo 32

    Insider- if you’re trying to defend Air NZ’s treatment of its workers then bringing Mt Cook and Air Nelson into it isn’t a good start.

  33. Snelly Boy 33

    Tane, my understanding of Chinese law is that you have no choice but to engage staff through a third party contractor. That’s the Chinese way. Air NZ would not have had an option.

    “But if you were moved there permanently you might expect that.”

    Kiinginthenameof, not only would I expect pay parity, I would demand it and get it. That’s exactly my point.

    These are Chinese nationals living in and working from China.

    Accordingly, they are not and can’t be subject to NZ employment law or market conditions but the laws and market of China.

    For example, a Chinese cabin crew injured whilst working can sue Air NZ for negligence under Chinese law. A kiwi crew member hurt in the same incident can’t due to NZ law (ACC).

  34. Matthew Pilott 34

    I’m not sure what your angle is Insider. Do you think it is ok or not ok for those other two airline’s employees to be paid less, if that is in fact the case? If it is ok, then do you think it is ok for employees under a different contract to be paid outside the levels set in NZ employment law? I don’t. If it’s not ok,, then fine, we’re agreeing – it’s not ok. Good.

    As said, I’d be more concerned by the situation with Chinese employees. This is because if I had to set a benchmark at which I would call for government intervention into the company’s (and a call for Nationalisation if it would solve the problem), I would set it at the levels that are defined by New Zealand employment law. Does that benchmark make sense to you? I accept your comment about principles – but i wouldn’t call for Nationalisation of a private company if it mistreated a worker, as there may be better mechanisms to deal with the situation. Bit of perspective helps.

    The other AirNZ/Mt Cook Air matters can be dealt with internally – there are Unions ann employment law to deal with these issues. If that is not working, then perhaps those laws need to be assessed, but it is a different issue, assuming their contracts are legal under NZ employment law…

  35. K Douglas 35

    I was interested to see comments in the MSM about the relative pay differences between Chinese and NZ workers. I have a friend who works for ZEAL 320 Ltd as a Flight Attendant, a fully owned subsidiary of Air NZ (these are the former Freedom Flight Attendants). These guys and girls wear the same uniform, fly the same size aircraft and serve Air NZ passengers. However they are paid substantially less, sometimes ten’s of thousands less. Why such a big difference? We are talking about the same job, same country.

    Captcha= ceramic rival

  36. insider 36

    Matthew

    The point was that some here seem to have an issue with people getting paid differently for ostensibly the same work with the same company. I was saying it already happened in NZ without any real concern – probably not to the same scale I expect – and Air NZ UK employees likely get more than NZ staff, so what is the real issue here?

    It might be interesting to know what a China Airways crew member gets to compare, but I don;t think anyone is suggesting AirNZ are uncompetitive in the Chinese market.

    I have no problem with AirNZ paying staff differently. As a multinational employee I was always resentful that my overseas staff got paid more than me, who they reported to. But that was just envy. I was doing very well compared to my NZ peers.

  37. Of course Air NZ cabin crew based in London get paid reasonably more than their NZ equivalents who take over the same flights through to Auckland from LA and HK. The flights to and from Shanghai would not be economic if Air NZ had to pay the same wages as NZ crew as the flights are full of low yield Chinese tourists. So the route wouldn’t be Air NZs. A Chinese airline would take over, and it would pay Shanghai based workers less.

    but then those who think nationalisation is a winner (hey the booming economies of East Germany and North Korea show how clever that is) are beyond reason and basic economics.

    Presumably the Shanghai based crew chose the job voluntarily and in China’s booming economy could have gone elsewhere. I’m sure that’s “not the point”, yet in fact it is. These jobs are at the wages that have been agreed or these jobs are not Air NZ’s.

  38. Tane 38

    That’s the problem with libertarians, they equate any form of public ownership as akin to the worst excesses of Stalinism. Kind of makes debate futile.

    Their insistence that jobs ‘belong’ to companies and entail no wider social responsiblity is also bordering on the psychopathic.

  39. Matthew Pilott 39

    insider – I read a comment that Air NZ doesn’t pay all that well even W.R.T the Chinese domestic market, maybe being paid 1/3 of our rate is the norm over there. But to sum up my position – I think action by the government is necessary because their pay rates would be illegal in NZ.

    libertyscott, you’re clearly beyond reason and basic economics if you equate Nationalisation of an airline already 80% owned by the Public with the despotism of sanctioned and embargoed North Korea or the tryanny of the former GDR.

  40. Billy 40

    Tane said: Funny how the right’s tone has changed on this over the last few days.

    I obviously didn’t get the memo from the VRC. Unless of course we on the right are allowed to “come from a variety of backgrounds and our political views don’t always match up”.

  41. Tane 41

    Billy, clearly I was generalising. Apologies if you took offence, I’ll try to be more sensitive in future.

  42. Billy – I think you mean “VRWC”. Getting stuff like that wrong really takes the zing outta your zingers…

  43. Tane, you have supported nationalising any firm people have punted up on this thread (the Warehouse?) – this has been a failure wherever it has been carried out writ large, that was my point. In fact state owned Air NZ was a financial disaster in the late 70s, early 80s until government stopped interfering with it – and even then it was capital starved, but hey maybe you like a little airline.

    Nice to see you and Matthew conveniently ignored the facts of the situation. Either the route is operated by Chinese crew hired by Air NZ or it is flown by a Chinese airline.

    You also evade the fact that the Chinese cabin crew chose to work for Air NZ, or are you implying they were coerced or are they too stupid to take a job that they will prefer over the many others available in the booming Chinese economy?

    Public ownership is a farce because as a member of the public you have no control over the accountability of the assets you allegedly “own”. You pay more taxes to bail it out when it stuffs up, and you always get a poorer rate of return than you would if you invested your own money elsewhere. You have politicians claiming it is strategic, while readily writing out cheques to prop it up.

  44. Steve Pierson 44

    libertyscott. East Germany hasn’t existed for nearly 18 years – so talking about it having an economy, booming or otherwise is dumb.

  45. Steve, it was the past tense. The eastern part of Germany still exists and remains behind that of the west in per capita GDP.

  46. Tane 46

    LS – regardless of who owns Air NZ we will always bail it out. As a strategic asset that’s just a fact of life. There is no evidence that SOEs perform any differently over the long term than privately owned companies.

    You’re on very shaky ground when you claim public ownership of companies “has been a failure wherever it has been carried out writ large”. Tell me, is NZ Post a failure? What about Solid Energy? Meridian? Landcorp? Learning Media? All were doing pretty well last time I checked.

    Your problem is that your politics are constrained by Randian mythology. I suggest that in future you try forming your opinions based on facts rather than fantasy novels.

  47. Steve Pierson 47

    it wasn’t the past tense though. And, yes, eastern Germany is still poorer than the west but how does that relate to whether or not nationalising Air NZ is a good thing?

  48. Billy 48

    Tane, no need to be sensitive on my account.

    Still ignoring you, ‘sod.

  49. MikeE 49

    “Steve Pierson
    Mar 18th, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    libertyscott. East Germany hasn’t existed for nearly 18 years – so talking about it having an economy, booming or otherwise is dumb.

    Kind of proves liberty scotts point now doesn’t it.

    I look forward to Labour Releasing its “Lets nationalise the warehouse” policy.

  50. Tane 50

    I don’t think they’ll be releasing that MikeE. They don’t even seem to want to nationalise Air New Zealand.

  51. Matthew Pilott 51

    LibertyScott – you’re also on shaky ground when you claim that these workers are free to work elsewhere. How many desperate peasants are there in China? Why do libertarians so desperately believe in the myth of freedom of movement? I guess because this flawed construct is central to the whole libertarian ideal – that people can simply up & leave a job if it’s not perfect, and that they should happily suffer with inferior employment because they ‘chose’ to work there.

    I’ve always wondered how people with these beliefs manage to entirely discount the human incentive to improve their condition – maybe your shitty job is just that but why not aim to improve it? You might leave some day – wouldn’t it be good if it was better for your replacement? And you get to have a better time while you’re there. This is of course anathema to libertarians, but i’d like to think it’s part of human nature.

    Nice to see you and Matthew conveniently ignored the facts of the situation. Either the route is operated by Chinese crew hired by Air NZ or it is flown by a Chinese airline.

    No ignoring facts there – I haven’t said that the crew isn’t Chinese anywhere. In fact, on numerous occastions, I made mention of Chinese employees and so on. Perhaps you need to re-state that point…

  52. Matthew Pilott 52

    And MikeE continues with the ‘any form of nationalisation is equal to tyrannic Stalinism’ line. Good on ya son, stick to your guns!

    I guess you could look forward to the Super Great leap Forward and Smashing A Few More Olds policies, they’re equally likely.

  53. MikeE 53

    Thats because any form of Natioanlisation is equal to socialism.

    Not neccesarily Stalinism, but definately socialism by any definition.

    I’m very interested as to the reasons why Tane would want to nationalise teh warehouse however.

    Tane, would you care to explain.

    As a side note, my captcha phrase is: “$100,000 snipers”

  54. Matthew Pilott 54

    I’m interested to hear how you equate socialism with the totalitarian puppet-state in East Germany.

    If this is the case, anyway, I assume that you advocate full devolution of the public sector into private entities as soon as possible; if any form of nationalisation is socialism, surely any public entity is representative of this monster, and is likely to turn us into East Germany? Roads, hospitals, schools, power infrastructure and generation – lose them all, before those NewCops become the StasiCops…

  55. Tane 55

    MikeE, I don’t want to nationalise The Warehouse, I just don’t have a kneejerk objection to the idea in principle like you do.

    Matt, yes, as a libertarian (I assume you’re consistent Mike) he believes everything but police and the military (the means by which property owners shield their wealth from the masses) should be privatised. And tax should be zero because anything else is theft.

    Honestly, this shit makes no sense whatsoever until you read Ayn Rand’s fantasy novels and discover that socialism is about hatred of the good and dragging the ubermenschen down to everyone else’s level. Apparently it’s great stuff if you’re into that kind of thing.

  56. MikeE 56

    “MikeE, I don’t want to nationalise The Warehouse, I just don’t have a kneejerk objection to the idea in principle like you do.”

    Weasel Words.

  57. Tane 57

    No, just a level of complexity unintelligible to libertarians and their black and white view of the world.

  58. Tane “regardless of who owns Air NZ we will always bail it out. As a strategic asset that’s just a fact of life” Um no, YOUR government could have let Singapore Airlines save it, but you don’t need to bail it out. Alitalia is being bailed out by Air France/KLM, Switzerland and Belgium both lost national airlines a few years ago, and both have new ones. It isn’t inevitable.

    Matthew – so people in Shanghai are desperate peasants? Ever been there, or have you some rather patronising attitude about China that says Chinese people are mostly peasants? Funnily enough I DO believe people can improve themselves and seek it, and leaving your job is one way to do it.

    I don’t disagree with “I’ve always wondered how people with these beliefs manage to entirely discount the human incentive to improve their condition – maybe your shitty job is just that but why not aim to improve it? You might leave some day – wouldn’t it be good if it was better for your replacement? And you get to have a better time while you’re there. This is of course anathema to libertarians, but i’d like to think it’s part of human nature.” except it is hardly an anathema. My main point is people have to make choices either to stay, leave or renegotiate their pay and conditions. In this respect I don’t disagree.

    I have a kneejerk opposition to nationalisation on one simple basis – it is theft. Privatisation of existing state owned enterprises can be done more delicately, and is about trading off price, ownership structures and how it is done. Giving shares to the public would be to me, a particularly good way of creating genuine public ownership.

    Then people can choose whether they want public ownership or not, would’t that be interesting? Does everyone want to own shares in a coal mining company? I suspect plenty of environmentalists would rather not, unless they saw value in buying up shares and shutting it down perhaps. Imagine – people using their own choices rather than the state to change things!

    My previous point was this:
    – The Air NZ routes from Auckland to Shanghai and Beijing are low yield routes that would not be profitable if all crew operating them were on NZ salaries. Therefore without Chinese crew at good Chinese wages, the routes would not exist given fares that Chinese tourists (who form 90% of the passengers) pay (Air NZ pulled out of South Korea because it couldn’t compete with Korean Air on fares).
    – If Air NZ pulls out, a Chinese airline is likely to fill the gap since they pay less than Air NZ, so Air NZ loses.

    In other words if you want Air NZ to operate the routes to China then this is what must happen, otherwise it becomes a Chinese airline route.

  59. Falafulu Fisi 59

    Tane, do you employ people? If you do, then I am certainly like to see how much you pay them. C’mon, you’re not gonna default standard argument as the market rate? Sure, if you employ people, I don’t expect you to be paying your laborers/office workers a rate of $200/hour. If you pay them around the market rates, then that’s exactly what Air NZ is doing? Unless you want Air NZ to become a Santa Claus, exactly the same thing if it is your private business. Would you like to employ a laborer and pay him/her $200/hr simply because you don’t care about market rates, but because you want to be Santa Claus?

  60. Phil 60

    “Honestly, this shit makes no sense whatsoever until you read Ayn Rand’s fantasy novels ”

    Interestingly enough, the shelf behind my desk right now includes a copy of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ which was left behind by a colleague in the last office-reshuffle… with a glowing endorsement like that from Tane, I might just have to hunker down with a coffee and see what all the fuss is about.

  61. left behind by a colleague in the last office-reshuffle

    One can only hope they took their “reshuffling” well – it being a natural outcome of the market and all…

  62. Jameson 62

    We’ll establish whether you’re a Stalinist, Tane, with answers to these questions:

    1) Who should own the invention: the inventor who toiled to make the discovery or the public who did nothing?

    2) Who should own the production of the invention: the investor who risks his money or the public who risks nothing?

  63. Matthew Pilott 63

    LibertyScott – China’s breakneck growth has been, by and large, due to a relatively low starting point – and their rural poor (I’m using their terms, not ours, for you to call it patronising displays quite an ignorance) are very prolific. Many make it to the cities, study, get jobs. This has been replicated throughout the last three centuries as a rural-urban drift follows an increasing disparity of wealth in urban areas.

    I haven’t been to Shanghai. Have you been on every single flight between Shanghai and Auckland or are you making assumptions about the people who travel on these flights? might I mention that you’re implying their flights need to be subsidised by low-wage labour due to the relative lack of income of the inhabitants of Shanghai, not I… Bit patronising there, chief…

    I’m not sure how you’ll qualify Nationalisation as theft – if the Government purchases, at a market rate, the remaining stake of Air New Zealand, they will have achieved this. It’s no different to a corporate takeover, but the buyer is different. So you’re pretty much saying the free market and capitalism is also theft. Hey – we almost agree!

    except it is hardly an anathema. My main point is people have to make choices either to stay, leave or renegotiate their pay and conditions. In this respect I don’t disagree.

    Except it is, libertyscott – the libertarian response to someone in poor working conditions is “they chose to work there. It’s their problem”. That’s what you said yourself. This ignores reality, paints a black-and-white picture, while pretending to dress up as an ethos of ‘personal choice’. Abhorrent.

    You seem to discount the possility of improving working conditions. Unless there are favourable conditions, such as very low unemployment, the workers are at an inherent disadvantage given the problems of leaving work. This is wheremany on the left see that a government or state should step in – gently, with subtle employment law, or forcefully if the situation demands it. If the worker is not at any disadvantage, you don’t hear calls for intervention.

    Your idea of public sale might sound nice and warm in theory, but it demands perfect information for every consumer, and an ability to predict what every other actor will do. If it is in NZ’s best interests to publicly own a resource, for this to happen every New Zealander would need to buy an equal stake and be confident that every other New Zealander would do the same. No practical relevance whatsoever.

    Giving the shares to the public is equally useless – without everyone having perfect information it can’t work. You may think it sounds elegant, but reality dictates otherwise.

  64. Jameson 64

    Afraid to lift your skirt and answer the question, Tane, lest you expose your Marxist socks?

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