On Morning Report this morning there was a clip of John Key (in Brazil) saying that David Shearer had signed up to buy shares in Mighty River Power – and he was welcome at the front of the queue like all New Zealanders.
Shortly after there was a rushed response from a Labour spokesperson to say that no Labour MPs, including David Shearer will be buying shares from National’s asset sales.
But it’s turned out that, yes indeed, someone has signed up David Shearer to the sales process.
This raises a number of issues.
As the government is crowing (and getting more free Herald advertising) about a record 290,000 people having signed up, how many of them are real?
Bill English won’t stop going on about the referendum signing up children (did this really happen? Every collector knows those signatures aren’t worth anything), but how many children are among those 290,000? Presumably that’s okay. But how many pets (like Queensland Rail)? How many multiple sign-ups as people try to game more shares with added bonuses? How many Mickey Mouses?
It’s very easy to sign up – all you need is a name and an email address and to state an NZ town where you live. You can even do it without an email address if you phone (but then you’ll presumably need a real address). After you fill out the short form, it asks if you’d like to sign anyone else up.
This is no rigorous exercise (not like manually collecting signatures of correctly enrolled voters with their correctly enrolled address).
What must be rigorous though is John Key’s data collection – how did they know that David Shearer had signed up? What privacy do people get when they pre-register? Is this yet another National privacy breach?