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Should the Left keep opposing asset sales?

Written By: - Date published: 7:08 am, March 12th, 2013 - 80 comments
Categories: blogs, Privatisation - Tags: , ,

Barring a miraculous outbreak of common sense the sale of at least some state owned assets is going ahead. Should the parties of the Left continue to oppose the process? Lew At Kiwipolitico (loudly cheered on by Bryce Edwards) doesn’t think so. I think Lew is wrong. Here’s why:

If it wasn’t already over on the night of 26 November 2011, the argument about the popular legitimacy of the government’s plan to partially privatise selected state-owned enterprises was finally put to bed when the pre-registration website for the Mighty River Power float fell over shortly after it went live. Whether this was a result of intentional underprovisioning to generate buzz or genuine organic demand doesn’t matter: within 24 hours100,000 people had pre-registered interest in buying shares. That’s about one-third of the signatures opponents of the scheme took seven months to collect to force a citizens initiated referendum. …

Lew is comparing Apples (online registration for what people hope will be free money) with Oranges (signatures painfully collected by hand by volunteers standing in shopping malls). Of course online registration works quicker – isn’t that obvious? As far as I know the asset sales petition collected its signatures more quickly than any previous petition (which is a more valid comparison to make).

Salience
Labour mistook asset sales for a high-salience issue and tried to run a campaign on it, when in reality too few cared enough for it to work. I have no reason to disbelieve the assertion that most people don’t want the assets sold. But the evidence of the election, the sluggish uptake of petition signatures, and the general lack of traction gained by the Labour party, for whom this has been the only coherent policy frame since the election, show that it is not an issue about which people are strongly exercised.

20/20 hindsight. No the issue didn’t win the election for Labour. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter, or didn’t have an impact on the outcome (note National’s majority of 1 in the House).

Mandate
The notion that the government, having spent the entire year 2011 campaigning on it, lacks a mandate to proceed with asset sales is utter nonsense,

I actually agree with this (unlike some Lefties). National has an electoral mandate to proceed. But that doesn’t mean that the Left lacks a mandate to oppose. Part of an Opposition’s job description eh?

Plenty of bad policies are popular — three strikes, scaremongering about immigration, and most of the government’s welfare reforms are good examples. Despite what Josie Pagani might say, all are inimical to Labour and Green politics. How can they oppose these policies, if they’re so popular? Conversely, how can they insist on passing unpopular policies?

Lew seems to be arguing that popularity is the final arbiter of what governments should and shouldn’t do. That’s a very slippery slope, especially with the given point that “plenty of bad policies are popular”. Sometimes leadership means doing the unpopular thing because it is right.

Whether they “win” the referendum or not, at best Labour and the Greens will be vulnerable to legitimate accusations of hypocrisy whenever they propose policy that is merely somewhat popular, as opposed to being very popular. The will have demonstrated that consistency doesn’t really matter, and that could do deep harm to their long-term credibility.

I think the first point is simply nonsense, as above (right and wrong trumps popular and unpopular). As to the second, yes consistency does matter. Which is exactly why the Left should continue to oppose asset sales. To stop would be exactly the kind of inconsistency that Lew thinks is deeply harmful.

The discussion has changed
The left has lost the argument about asset sales. Barring some sort of deus ex machina it’ll go ahead and will probably be a net vote winner for the government. But the apparent mismanagement of Solid Energy has given Labour and the Greens an opportunity to reframe the state-owned enterprise discussion, away from who owns these businesses to how they are run.

The way the SOE’s are run is a legitimate second line of enquiry, but I don’t think it’s a suitable “replacement” to opposing asset sales.

The Left has opposed asset sales, and (rather than being blown by the winds of political expedience as Lew suggests) should remain consistent and keep doing so. Because asset sales are wrong, and we should oppose that which is wrong and damaging to the country.

80 comments on “Should the Left keep opposing asset sales?”

  1. IrishBill 1

    I don’t think Lew is saying that populism should win. I think he’s saying the opposite.

    That said, all the people that are banging on about asset sales being a dead issue have it wrong, probably because they can’t see past the next news-cycle.

    Yes there is a flurry of interest in the sale and no Labour didn’t do very well in the 2011 campaign.

    But the former was always going to be the case and the latter is because Labour’s campaign team sucked badly (and continues to do so).

    What is going to happen is there is going to be a referendum and it’s going to be a big news story for a few weeks. This will cause the government real difficulties but Labour won’t be able to capitalise on these difficulties (because they suck) and the Greens won’t gain a lot electorally from them either (but they will further strengthen and grow their campaign networks which will have a flow-on effect regarding closing the tradition gap between their polling and their result).

    On the latter point, anyone (I’m looking at you Matthew Hooton) that claims the Greens haven’t done well out of this issue are kidding themselves – the Greens have used this as an opportunity to build a significant campaign machine and to break into Auckland in a way that will give them an extra couple of percent at least. Anyone who fails to understand that, fails to understand organising, and with it, fails to understand politics.

    • Ben Clark 1.1

      If there was one issue I found resonated with people on the doorstep when campaigning in a very blue electorate in 2011 it was asset sales. It was Labour’s only way in. There were reasons for people not to vote Labour, but the main thing tempting non-Labour voters that way was to stop asset sales. Campaigning hard on it then and now is not one of Labour’s mistakes.

      I met an awful lot of people in 2011 who opposed asset sales but were going to vote for John Key (even though he wasn’t on the ballot paper.. ;) ) – some thought he wouldn’t go through with it (despite it being their main promise), others just didn’t trust the other parties, or just liked the guy too much. I wouldn’t be surprised if an awful lot of those people are now pre-registered to buy shares – not because they’ve been converted to asset sales, but because they’ve weighed up personal finance options or are doing so (pre-registering will get you the prospectus so you can weigh things up…).

      I would say the left haven’t lost the argument on asset sales, despite Lew’s conclusion. Polls still say that 2/3rds – 3/4 of voters agree with the Left – if that’s a loss, I don’t know what a win looks like in Lew’s world.

      • Lew 1.1.1

        Polls still say that 2/3rds – 3/4 of voters agree with the Left – if that’s a loss, I don’t know what a win looks like in Lew’s world.

        A win looks like 50% of them voting for you.

        L

        • Daveo 1.1.1.1

          By that logic the Left should abandon any campaign that doesn’t by itself win them an election, regardless of how popular it is. Of course, no single issue campaign by itself has ever won anyone an election, so by that logic we should all just give up the hard work of campaigning and instead set up niche political blogs and whinge on Twitter. Seems to work for Lew.

          • cricklewood 1.1.1.1.1

            No they shouldn’t stop and labors position is clear. But carping on about it, basing your whole campaign on it is demonstrably foolish. All the anti sale noise has done is drown out anything else in the way of more positive messages. It is fair to say it has been a strategic mistake and I beleive it would be more positive to be hearing about what Labour proposes to ease unemployment etc.
            The best way to put pressure on National to stop would be a slump in the polls while they are riding high obviously anti asset sale isn’t a catalyst for that.

    • Jim Davis 1.2

      Well it’s typical Lew, isn’t it? Smug armchair critic who’s never actually had to dirty himself with the day to day grind of organising and campaigning. That’s how he can make the basic mistake of thinking 1) an online registration, with 2) multi-million dollar advertising and 3) a way for wealthy people to make money in any way compares to the herculean effort of collecting 400,000 offline signatures for a political petition. It’s true that it’s easy to be so far in the game that you lose perspective, but Lew’s guilty of the opposite sin. He wouldn’t know real life politics if he tripped over it, which he often does.

    • SpaceMonkey 1.3

      The anti-asset sales campaign has enabled the Greens to extend and strengthen their network in at the grassroots. This is where real change happens, and with it the Greens will emerge in the next decade as the dominant party on the left.

      • Colonial Viper 1.3.1

        Yep. The last count I heard was that the Greens collected almost 52% of the signatures.

        The remaining 48% being made up by groups such as Labour, Grey Power, etc.

        • the pigman 1.3.1.1

          ^^ the neener/neener above is exactly the reason I will probably never be a Green Party voter no matter what the Labour caucus drags the Party through.

          • felixviper 1.3.1.1.1

            It’s not a neener/neener at all, it’s just a fact. The Greens collected a lot more signatures than Labour.

            Of course it’s possible that Labour have been working hard on some other plan to oppose asset sales, but if so they’ve pretty much been doing it in secret.

  2. Agreed Rob. There is no way that any self respecting progressive or leftie could sit idly by and watch the nation’s most important strategic assets being sold. If we did not oppose this then there is little left which we could oppose.

    Lew’s comments suggest that he has analysed the process as the playing of a game where the only measure of success is whether or not you score points. This issue is much more important than that.

    His comments are also very simplistic. There were a huge number of reasons people voted the way they did. The quality of the campaigns were part of this and in this regard Labour really needs to have a review of what happened.

    PS I just heard RNZ report John Key as saying that many of the signatures on the anti sale petition will prove to be “bogus”. Shame on him. I spent quite a lot of time collecting signatures and every single one was that of a genuinely concerned Kiwi. Some of the signatories may not prove to be identifiable as being on the roll through a lack of information or because they are not on the roll for their current address but that does not make their signatures bogus.

    Shame on him. Shame on him. Shame on him. He needs to go.

    • Anne 2.1

      There were a huge number of reasons people voted the way they did. The quality of the campaigns were part of this and in this regard Labour really needs to have a review of what happened.

      There were indeed. They voted NAct because they thought they were entitled to another term. They voted NAct because they fell for the Key charm. They voted NAct because their mates were voting NAct. They voted NAct because…. any reason other than those that matter like Asset Sales. My pick is, less than 20% gave the Asset Sales a thought before they entered the polling booth, and that 20% were full time Tories looking to make a handsome buck for themselves and to hell with the rest of the country.

      Yes, and it didn’t help that Labour ran a second-rate campaign (still feel sorry for Goff on that count even if he is blaming the wrong people) and there’s no way Labour will conduct a review of what happened while those responsible for the campaign failure are still in charge. Hell will freeze over before they acknowledge their role… and thus allow the party to move on to a better place.

      • Tim 2.1.1

        They voted NAct because they fell for the Key charm.
        That’s one of the things that disappoints me most with fellow NZers – the fact that they actually think John Key has ‘charm’. No wonder so many got taken in by finance company salesmen.

        And can anyone explain to me why there is such binary thinking whereby simply because someone pre-registers (and even goes through with a purchase), they therefore must be in favour of asset sales? I’ll bet many with the means will want to purchase to ensure the asset stays predominantly NZ-owned

  3. tc 3

    Power generation is an essential utility, a natural monopoly and national asset built by our parents and parents parents power bills.

    It became a money spinning machine through poor regulation and a structure that protects those profiteering from the retail consumer as big business users pay fractions of what you and I pay.

    Asset sales shouled be considered on a case by case basis which the NACT blurr with all the spin around PPP and best practice market efficiency twaddle. They don’t want you looking carefully at the generators.

    As such essential infratsructure that can’t be competeed against stays in public hands whereas a bloated non essential asset such as TVNZ should’ve been sold before alot of it’s value was wiped away.

    NZPost needs a revisit to, not to sell but to trim it back to delivering the dwindling mail volumes at minimal cost and not wasting money in ventures it sucks at….YouPost and various other E-Comm plays spring to mind.

    • Yep and in a world that will become energy constrained as the cheap oil runs out these power generators are going to become gold plated, for a few elite rather than for all of us.

      • Lew 3.1.1

        I should elaborate that I think Labour and the Greens pledging to buy back — or re-nationalise — the privatised half of these SOEs wouldn’t be a bad strategy. But with two caveats.

        First, it has to be clearly signalled well before the first sales go through, so the market can adequately judge the risk involved. If a credible threat, this should also have the effect of depressing demand, which strengthens the opposition’s argument that selling them now under these circumstances is bad economics.

        And second: any buyback must be part of a radical reframing of how Labour and the Greens approach government and how they regard the role of the state in society. It can’t just be a one-off policy in isolation. Chris Trotter has written a good post on this topic.

        I don’t necessarily support this strategy — though I’m ambivalent rather than opposed — but I can see how it could work.

        L

  4. The left will continue to oppose asset sales but labour won’t – pragmatism, political reality, votes and all that.

  5. Te Reo Putake 5

    Out in the malls and streets, I got plenty of signatures from Tories, even from some who volunteered that they would buy the shares when they became available. The reason was the same everytime; they didn’t think the Government had a mandate for the sales and they wanted it put to a vote.

    Some good points from IB, too, particularly what a shot in the arm this has been for the Greens organisationally. This experiance should help keep their party vote solidly in the low teens. All we neeed is for the Labour party membership to endorse ending and reversing the sales and, between the two parties, we have an election winning policy platform.

  6. Matthew Hooton 6

    The question is not whether Labour and the left should oppose the share floats. Labour is opposed and should keep saying it is opposed, of course. But Labour has allowed the issue to totally dominate its political strategy for over two years now, probably just as John Key intended, and the electoral results, and some of the polling ones, are pretty clear that Labour and the left will never be elected on this issue alone. It just doesn’t matter to as many people as some of the writers here, and some Labour strategists, think.

    • Cayte Shepherd 6.1

      And National was not voted in on this issue alone! So, therefore, what is the validity that Nat have this thing termed a mandate to sell, what all of us, the state, own? The government does not own the electricity generators, the state.-the people, own them.

      Let’s be consistent in the analysis.

      But then a Nat is never consistent as spin is the bread and butter of Nat policy and practice; to really mess and confuse the people, so popularity rules. What a complete and utter mess.

    • The Chairman 6.2

      Mathew

      Labour has not allowed the issue to totally dominate its political strategy.

      You have overlooked Labour’s warmly received new hosing policy for one.

      • Matthew Hooton 6.2.1

        Correct. And when Labour announced that policy it went up in the polls, which sort of supports my point.

        • bad12 6.2.1.1

          Which sort of has you as usual dancing upon the head of a pin, you first claimed that Labour had let it’s anti-asset sales stance dominate it’s strategy,

          You then, when that has been pointed out to you as utter bovine defecation slide away from your previous piece of waffle,

          Slippery has already been taken as a moniker perhaps yours ought to be Slimy…

    • Populuxe1 6.3

      Actually Matthew, Labour isn’t entirely opposed to asset sales:

      “Labour published a closed list of assets that we believe ought to be run in the New Zealand interest because they have monopoly characteristics – assets such as electricity line networks, water and airports.

      The list excludes telecommunications and electricity generation”

      http://www.labour.org.nz/news/robert-walters-finance-breakfast-speech

  7. Karl Sinlcair 7

    Anthony, your comment

    ‘Lew is comparing Apples (online registration for what people hope will be free money) with Oranges’

    Absolutely bang on, a rather pathetic attempt for self justification by Lew. Also its appaling that one cannot vote online for such issues

    If people had been able to vote online then I suspect this kiwi asset sale would have been canned long ago.

    Is it not odd that you can preregister for shares online, bank, buy etc yet you cannot vote (on the major agendas within government).

    Im sure the Government would then be very different form than the one we have now (i.e. it would be actaully democratic).

    Here is an example of what the future should be.

    http://votebox.cs.rice.edu/

    What is VoteBox?
    VoteBox is a prototype electronic voting machine created by researchers in the Computer Security Lab at Rice University. It is designed to be a platform for broad e-voting research, particularly in the areas of security and usability. The code is written in Java, and runs on computers with Windows, Macintosh, and Linux operating systems.

    VoteBox is an excellent starting point for new research projects and could even be used as the basis for a new commercial voting system, but it is not currently production-quality code. VoteBox is free software, licensed under version 3 of the GNU General Public License (GPLv3). For more information please read our FAQ.

    So even if you get stuck with an antiquated monolith like the National party you could effectively start to expand the possibility of choice within their term by ensuring electronic online voting on key issues within their term (they would’nt like it, spoilt brats never do)

    • Cayte Shepherd 7.1

      And, a million dollars of tax payer money spent to advertise purchasing a share in an entity which everyone already has a share in! With $50,000 to collect 390,000 signatures for referendum, face to face in all sorts of places across the nation, to oppose the stupidity.

  8. Lew 8

    Obviously the number of signups for MRP and CIR signatures are different. But when you get 100k in 24 hours, the difference doesn’t much matter: That’s massive interest.

    Re the asset sales campaign not being an election winner — you can say 20/20 hindsight if you like, but I called it in February 2011. I’m hardly alone in that regard; the only people who seem to have thought it impossible are Labour party activists.

    As to my argument about populism, you have me backwards, as IrishBill says. Populism isn’t a winner for the principled left; at least not over the long term, and certainly not in government.

    If there was actually a hope in hell of getting the SOE float stopped then continuing the present strategy probably wouldn’t be a bad move. But there isn’t, so the emphasis now has to go on what comes next.

    The point is not that Labour and the greens should now turn coat and support the privatisation — of course they shouldn’t. But it’s not worth dying in a ditch for; there are bigger issues to deal with, and the country is going to need a competent and credible left after 2014. We have serious problems with corporate culture in NZ — finance companies, Pike River, Mainzeal falling over despite being the preferred construction partner in Christchurch, others. At this very moment the trouble with Solid Energy is being used by the government to demonstrate that only the private sector — the private sector who’s done such a bang-up job in all those other cases — is fit to run anything. We’re going to hear that “real” businesses in the mighty private sector only fail because the state makes it impossible to succeed by tying them up in red tape, minimum wages, tax, and what not, so let’s leave the business to the businessmen, and get the state out of the way. Am I right? Look at the RMA reforms. What’s going on here is bigger than just selling half of some assets; it’s about the role of the government in the economy, and in society.

    L

    • Um let’s see an online registration takes seconds and could be worth a significant amount of money.

      Real signatures requires effort and dedication by a number of people willing to give up their weekends to collect signatures.

      And bigger issues? Well there are but not that much bigger. Sure corporate culture is a biggie but what would you do about them Lew?

      RMA issues? Sure they are important and I have spent a great deal of time campaigning on them but they are only for lawyers and intellectuals and do not have the simplicity of description that privatisation does.

      • chris 8.1.1

        Your dismissiveness of what lew is saying is perfectly reinforcing his point!

        If an issue is super important to the future of the country, but currently only framed as to be an issue for intellectuals, change the f’n framing of the issue, don’t just cede it because there’s an easier issue to campaign on. FFS.

      • JK 8.1.2

        Mickey S- you said “RMA issues? Sure they are important and I have spent a great deal of time campaigning on them but they are only for lawyers and intellectuals and do not have the simplicity of description that privatisation does.”

        Without disagreeing with anything you’ve said re asset sales, I don’t think you can just dismiss the RMA issues as being just for lawyers, intellectuals, etc.

        Somehow we need to come up with a few easy-to-understand slogans on the RMA changes because these will drastically affect just about anything anyone does with land development, environmental changes, businesses, building, mining, industry – you name it – and everyone needs to know about it.

    • Wayne 8.2

      And Lew’s point is the key here. Oppossing assets sales is essentially a negative.

      People actually want to hear the positive message that a political party has – what new things they will do. Hence the reason that on various comments on this site I have mentioned a much more substantial innovation strategy, or a more imaginative use of the Super Fund. Surely a creative centre left party can think of better things to do with $20 billion, rather than investing it all on the NYSE. Surely it could be used (or at least some of it) to drive new economic initiatives here.

      And Ben, yes the good voters of North Shore may have politely listened to you, but they did not hear a new narrative from Labour, though to be fair 3 years after a new Govt was too early for that. After all I know what is was like in 2002, even in North Shore!

      • Colonial Viper 8.2.1

        Agree completely. Now that Labour has stated what they are against in terms of these SOEs, they need to state what they are for in terms of SOEs. Is it simply to stick to the status quo?

      • Ben Clark 8.2.2

        Hi Wayne -

        Yes, a negative message like “Stop Asset Sales” (should’ve been “Keep our Assets” for a start…) isn’t enough.
        Yes, a positive narrative of what a party will do (rather than won’t do) is needed, and yes, it’s hard to change the framing, freshness and perception in 3 years after government.
        I guess yes, it is hard to get multiple messages out with a media that likes single issues (there was a lot of good stuff in the Labour manifesto that struggled to get any exposure – not least the children’s policy); so you have to be careful which issues you run with.

        Hell, yes, I’d like to see some more of the Super Fund invested here to boost our (clean, green) economy.

        Hmm, that’s a lot of agreeing…
        My point was that I don’t think it is/was wrong to go big on Keeping Our Assets – but yes, it shouldn’t be the only message.

        And competency and the ability to show that through the media are at least as big issues for the public as any policy. People seem to want things to be done, even if they don’t necessarily agree with them…

        Policy was our strong point and we were right to try to campaign on policy, but policy isn’t enough… (except for policy wonks like me).

    • bad12 8.3

      What you call ‘massive interest’ is in fact massive self interest off of the back of some very Slippery marketing from the National Government,

      Given that those who pre-register their interest have been promised up to 25% more shares at the point of actual sale than those that do not pre-register it is no surprise that those who have the money and the intention to buy shares in Mighty River Power have all rushed to get their interest registered,

      My view is that both Labour and the Green Party have weakened support for both anti-asset sales in general and the petition calling for a referendum by ruling out putting the sold assets back into the hands of Government ownership upon becoming the Government…

    • aj 8.4

      I only registered an interest as an easy way to keep up with float details. Although I can afford to buy, I almost certainly won’t.
      Others may well have done the same. Tyre kickers.

    • Murray Olsen 8.5

      The problems with corporate culture and the myths surrounding the efficiency of kiwi entrepreneurs are directly tied to asset theft and sales. What do you think is going to happen to the workforce of the privatised companies? Who are going to be in charge? The same people that were responsible for deaths at Pike River, the woeful performance of Solid Energy, and the shifting of liabilities and shafting of the people of Christchurch that is the Mainzeal collapse. These people can’t run anything; their whole culture is to get everything handed to them on a plate by ACT governments. Then when they run something down, the government buys it back and gives them something else.
      How on earth can you not see that asset theft is a significant part of this whole problem, and a good point from which to fight it?
      Shearer obviously doesn’t, because he even believes that military operations can be privatised. What role does he actually see for the state besides arresting roof painters and turning them over to private prisons? Winston First will be against the sales because he’ll see that they’ll result in higher power prices for pensioners, without seeing the wider picture. The Greens probably have a broader view, seeing private generation as being an enemy of environmental concerns at least. However, once again I think the most consistent opposition will come from Mana. Unfortunately, ABC will help marginalise this opposition. I wish they’d just hurry up and join their mates in ACT.

  9. ak 9

    Tautoko r0b. At a glance, several howlers by Lew in this one.

    For starters, as you point out the petition take-up certainly wasn’t tepid at all. And it’s debatable whether Labour campaigned “hard” on asset sales. Not from my memory.

    And far from a mandate for asset sales, every poll before and since showed that 2011 was Key’s despite the promise of unwanted asset sales. The voters’ desires on this issue have never been in doubt, simply that other issues overwhelmed.

    The heavily-touted pre-registration exercise was always going to be a flood. Free money. A government-guaranteed finance company. The exact equivalent of the “north of fifty dollars a week” that brought us Key in the first place. Nothing remotely to do with perceptions of merit of the policy.

    But most importantly, as you note, Consistency. Labour must stick to the intention for a cast-iron mandate, either way. It’s consistent even with Key and tory rhetoric: if they’re so sure of the “mandate” then they’ll welcome the referendum as rock-solid confirmation.

    “Mr Key says kiwis want asset sales, but doesn’t want to ask them directly. Labour will be bound by the result of the referendum, it’s up to you New Zealand”.

  10. Erentz 10

    Re the MRP sign ups. The thing is you sign up to keep your options open. It does not indicate you will buy. Nor does not indicate you support privatization.

    How many people have signed up, so they can decide later if they want to buy, and then how many people who signed up still oppose the sale? I have. I madly oppose the sale. But it’s going ahead I am going to consider buying some shares – whether ultimately I do or not I haven’t yet decided. It’s as stupid as saying you drive a car so must support RONS. M

  11. vto 11

    The left has absolutely NOT lost the debate etc on asset sales. It has in fact won the debate. That this arsehole-filled government is running roughshod over that debate, the issues and the will of the people because they got almost half the votes in 2011 means shit-all.

    The left, and the non-left in fact, must keep the hefty base issues that sit underneath these particular asset sales alive. The fundamentals are just that – fundamental. Fundamental to our long term wealth and prosperity as a society.

    Do not stop.

    • Ed 11.1

      Those fundamentals are indeed what we need to talk about. I am not opposed to all asset sales – if for example a school is closed or the needs of a ‘department’ change so that a building is no longer needed, it may make sense to sell off the land and buildings before they deteriorate through vandalism; if obsolete office furniture is sold to a dealer we regard that as normal operations.

      I am opposed to the sale of electricity generation companies however:
      1. These are strategic assets on which our future depends – how they are managed and how they charge for their services will affect he future of our country. Use of water is not a simple issue of ‘ownership’.

      2. The break up of the state monopoly into separate companies has diminished the ability of government to determine strategic decisions for New Zealand – the pricing policy for energy; when to charge at cover current costs, and when to charge at a “market” rate that either encourages development of alternative energy sources or encourages lower energy use; how to pay for development of further generation (usually through a mix of building up reserves and higher future costs). Moving from an aim of generating electricity to meet the needs of the country at minimum cost, to an aim to maximise shareholder profit, is not a good strategic decision for New Zealand.

      3. The government has not made a financial case for the sales – they are selling assets with historically good returns to repay low cost government borrowing, at a high cost. They have not shown that we will be better off. Treasury forecasts appear to be either hidden or kept out of the public eye (do they even exist?). The artificial boost to reported profitability by ‘internal’ sales forced by government to generate accounting profits should be seen as the cynical manipulation of results that it was – serious investors should be aware that recent returns have been affected by political manipulation. Why are questions about the investment case (or lack of it) for sales not being asked of the government?

      4. Now is not a good time to sell any major asset – as we keep getting told, the “global financial crisis” has caused this government to miss every one of the economic goals that it has publicised for itself, and to slip in many international rankings) – what makes them think that there are investors out there prepared to pay high values for shares in a government controlled company? It is even worse as a court has recently confirmed that there are unresolved Treaty of Waitangi issues, which will increase uncertainty of future value of Mighty River at least.

      Have I missed any “fundamentals”?

      As for the alternatives, I believe that the break up of the industry has not been good for New Zealand. the so-called ‘competitive market’ is clearly an collection of moving price escalators, moving at different rates for short term tactical reasons, costing money for the ‘churn’ of customers and giving a pretence of true competition. It has not delivered greater efficiencies, or greater innovation. Opposition parties need to at least indicate that they will the structure of energy companies with a view to enabling better coordination of research and development. lower costs to consumers, and less fragmented advice to government.

      • Murray Olsen 11.1.1

        If a building is no longer needed, surely it’s more of a liability than an asset?

  12. SpaceMonkey 12

    The Shearer camp must tacitly support the sales. All they need to do is state publicly that any SOEs sold will be bought back at cost or current share price, whichever is the lower of the two. That will stop any further attempt to extract wealth from the commons.

    Lew is right about bigger issues though… it’s called the TPPA. What is in that may scupper any future attempt to renationalise anything that is owned by a foreign corporate and it’s a no-brainer that that’s where the ownership of our power-generating assets is heading.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Or as Ad has previously suggested, even friendlier measures like committing to active seats on the board, pricing/profit caps, other forms of stricter or more severe regulation/taxation,…

      There are lots of things that Labour can do to materially oppose the sales. But it means pissing off potential investors, and also big capital. Not the kind of thing that a centrist market sympathetic party is likely to do.

  13. Karl Sinclair 13

    TWO SIMPLE REASONS FOR KEEPING OUR RENEWABEL POWER GENERATION ASSETS

    1. By 2025, 35% of all cars sold will be electric, 25% of which will be hybrids and 10% pure EVs.
    http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/02/electric-vehicle-market-forecast-10-year-horizon-looking-strong/

    2. Energy Security (which means economic security) – the price of oil etc will be going up kids

    NZ should not be the WINZ of the Pacific and bail out unimaginative bankers and impotoent traders. YAWN, they bore me…..

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      1. By 2025, 35% of all cars sold will be electric, 25% of which will be hybrids and 10% pure EVs.

      Only the upper middle class and elite will be able to afford these.

  14. Rich 14

    I’d agree. Asset sales might be an minority concern, but opposing them is a building block for a left majority. Going through the process of getting the referendum, hopefully winning it and then having the result ignored will provide a powerful lesson as to how much people’s opinions are valued by NACT. That is likely to be effective with a significant block of reluctant voters. (Probably not so much amongst Lab/Nat swing voters, or amongst the small, intellectually confused group of ACT/Green swingers).

    • cricklewood 14.1

      You are probably right, but the key question is how many of those that sign a petition on the street will actually be suitably motivated to vote in a referendum or even more pertiantly on election day. I suspect many that signed will be to disengaged to bother…

  15. ad 15

    It probably feels like a contradiction, but Labour has to continue to oppose sales, but also prepare for gvoernment in which at least some of the assets are sold.

    That’s a different kind of government; les a sovereign government and more government as a shareholder with really specific policy intent.

    Hooton is right that Labour needs more ideas, just as good, to refresh its campaigning. Housing was great. The polity is crying out for more if the polls are to shift positively.

    Meanwhile both Labour and the Greens need to do detailed work on the corporate governance instruments they have now, what they need to tweak, how to reaggregate all public capital for policy ends, how to re-flex that muscle and re-route it into executive control.

    Solid Energy and Mighty River Power have been the wake up call to this: even with 100% control, the existing governance instruments are far, far too weak. And has been for a decade.

    Both sides of the House need to think about how they will achieve policy once full sovereignty is gone. And start writing policy about the instruments to achieve this. That simply reflects the reality of weakenign policy agency and accelerating corporatisation of the remaining state.

  16. Point one: Majorities always start as minorities. Because there is an inherent conservatism built into society. The radical minority identifies the critical issues and builds support for social change.

    Point two: What’s negative about holding onto public assets that produce renewable energy? It’s like saying that stopping global warming is negative.

    Point three: This is not a single issue but a survival issue. Ask any farmer forced onto the dole today what global warming is doing. This message is now overtaking the short-term rent seeking for the few.

    Conclusion: If Labour and the Greens stood on principles and not popularity and stated today they would buy these assets back at cost for the social good rather than market return the whole asset rippoff would collapse just as the global economy is in a slow motion freefall.

    There is a hell of a lot more people out there who need cheap renewable energy than those who have a few thousand to spend ripping off public assets.

    The sooner the Left stands up and fights back the sooner the radical minority will turn into a conservative majority while there is something still to conserve.

  17. Macro 17

    “On the latter point, anyone (I’m looking at you Matthew Hooton) that claims the Greens haven’t done well out of this issue are kidding themselves – the Greens have used this as an opportunity to build a significant campaign machine and to break into Auckland in a way that will give them an extra couple of percent at least. Anyone who fails to understand that, fails to understand organising, and with it, fails to understand politics”

    QFT

    We have living proof in our household. :)

  18. r0b 18

    Folks a couple of the comments above are unnecessarily targeted at Lew personally (or his blog). Let’s not do that please. I happen to disagree with Lew on this particular issue, on most other issues I agree with him, there’s nothing personal about it!

  19. ropata 19

    National has no compunction about buying votes from the wealthy by any means at its disposal.
    However they spin it as “Mum and Dad” and apple pie, it’s still a shit sandwich for everybody else.

  20. Rogue Trooper 20

    Gone With The Wind
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH2w6Oxx0kQ
    (all they are is dust in the wind; we are not in Kansas anymore Dorothy)

  21. gobsmacked 21

    Labour – and potential partners in government – should continue to oppose asset sales.

    But they will need to have answers to the obvious question, from the media and opponents …

    “What will you do if you win the next election?”

    It’s very easy for Key and co right now. They can jibe at Labour … “We will ignore the referendum – and so will you.”

    That jibe may not be fair, but it cannot be rebutted, because Shearer is unable/unwilling to say what he would do. It is entirely possible that Labour and National will go into the next election campaign with the SAME policy – no buying back, and no more sales.

    If that is not Labour’s position, it’s high time they said so. Otherwise the Nats have won.

  22. Ant 22

    Don’t see why registering to buy the shares is automatically equated to supporting asset sales.

    Benefitting from stupidity doesn’t necessarily make you complicit in it, or supporting of it.

    • Richard McGrath 22.1

      Except that registering is not passive inaction, it’s active participation, and is thus supportive.

      • felixviper 22.1.1

        How is it supportive? I don’t understand what you mean by that.

        Say your Harley was stolen and the only way you could get it back was to buy it from a gang members. Does that mean you approve of them selling it?

  23. bad12 23

    As a matter of interest, (or not), we may find that the pre-registration of so many ‘people’ showing ‘interest’ in Mighty River Power might be as much a matter of their KiwiSaver provider registering that interest as it is X amount of individuals all registering an interest,

    From what i have read, such providers, trusts and companies can all register the interest on behalf of the individuals so long as those individuals having such an ‘interest’ fit the Governments criteria for pre-registration, IRD number, NZ residency etc etc etc,

    As yet i do not know if such individuals must give their consent for their KiwiSaver provider et al to have ‘their’ personal interest registered but i should imagine that all the providers will have registered ALL their clients as ‘interested’…

  24. Tiger Mountain 24

    Lew is an instinctive generalist contratrianist rather than partisan commenter from my several years of reading.

    He has the grace to say say if the evidence stacks up to the contrary however. Me, ya just gotta keep on truckin, places to go, right wingers to piss off. But it takes all kinds to keep our amazing blogoshpere happening.

  25. Draco T Bastard 25

    Lew seems to be arguing that popularity is the final arbiter of what governments should and shouldn’t do. That’s a very slippery slope, especially with the given point that “plenty of bad policies are popular”. Sometimes leadership means doing the unpopular thing because it is right.

    Actually, leadership would be explaining why bad policies are bad despite their popularity and standing up for a good policy. Neither of which Labour has done with regards to asset sales.

  26. For goodness sakes some of you – HARDEN UP!!!!

    OF COURSE we should continue to not just ‘oppose’ asset sales – but STOP asset sales!

    Here’s how it can be done…

    In case you missed this in my earlier post?

    1) Back up your signature for the asset sale referendum with a personal pledge to BOYCOTT the Mighty River Power share issue!

    DO NOT BUY ANY SHARES IN MIGHTY RIVER POWER!

    BE CONSISTENT! AND PERSISTENT!

    How can you be opposed to asset sales – then buy into the SELLOUT of Mighty River Power?

    Even if you (momentarily) dropped your principles, and got sucked into all the hype and semi-hysteria, and registered an interest in buying Mighty river Power shares – IT IS NOT TOO LATE!

    There is no requirement to purchase shares even if you have ‘registered an interest’.
    The Mighty River Power Prospectus has not even come out yet!

    2) Help drive down the price of Mighty River Power, by BOYCOTTING and switching off / from Mercury Energy (Mighty River Power’s main retailer).

    Here’s what you can do right now to help stop asset sales.
    Boycott Mercury Energy.

    Download and print this leaflet for more info:
    http://www.switchoffmercuryenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Switch-off-leaflet-2013-1a.pdf

    Remember?
    In 2008, after already privatised Contact Energy doubled their Directors fees and raised prices 12% – their profits halved when 40,000 customers left in 5 months.

    Remember?
    “Let me make it quite clear. If the Government doesn’t get a good price – the Government isn’t going to sell”

    (Tony Ryall, Minister of SOE’s 17/6/2012 NBR
    http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/govt-wont-sell-assets-if-it-cant-get-good-price-ryall-ck-121435

    WHAT’S A GOOD PRICE Minister?

    How can Mighty river Power sell for a good price – if it’s losing customers and profits?

    3) There is NO MANDATE for asset sales.

    National campaigned for asset sales and got 59 out of 121 MPs.

    Peter Dunne and United Future did NOT campaign for asset sales – so arguably the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership Model) Amendment Act 2012 should have been LOST 60 -61 votes if Peter Dunne had not misled the voting public of Ohariu.

    So! HARDEN UP folks and let’s give this country a taste of PEOPLE POWER that will leave a really nasty taste in the mouths of shonky John Key and this corrupt Government.

    WILL JOHN KEY, BILL ENGLISH AND ALL NATIONAL PARTY MPS PLEDGE NOT TO BUY SHARES IN MIGHTY RIVER POWER?

    HOW ABOUT LABOUR MPS? GREEN MPS? NZ FIRST MPS?

    WHICH MPS STAND TO PERSONALLY PROFIT FROM THE SELLOUT/ SELLOFF OF MIGHTY RIVER POWER?

    HOW IS THAT NOT A CORRUPT MISUSE OF PUBLIC OFFICE FOR PRIVATE GAIN?

    Penny Bright
    A Spokesperson for the Switch Off Mercury Energy community group

  27. Richard McGrath 27

    Interesting that Phil Goff said the 2011 election would be a referendum on asset sales…

    http://www.voxy.co.nz/politics/election-will-be-referendum-asset-sales-goff/5/79913

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    Labour | 28-08
  • Media Advisory – MANA Movement Candidate for Waiariki Annette Sykes, Waia...
    Media are advised that this coming weekend, the MANA Movement Candidate for Waiariki, Annette Sykes, will be on the Internet MANA Road Trip within the electorate of Waiariki. Speakers confirmed are Annette Sykes, Hone Harawira, John Minto, Laila Harre and Kim...
    Mana | 27-08
  • Internet MANA – Waiariki Road Trip: 29, 30, 31 Aug 2014
    The Internet MANA Road Trip hits Waiariki this weekend. It would be great if all MANA members in Waiariki could especially attend the public meetings and show their support for our Waiariki candidate Annette Sykes. Confirmed speakers Hone Harawira (except Taupo), Annette...
    Mana | 27-08
  • First home buyers $200 a week better off with Labour
    A couple earning around $75,000 a year would be $200 a week better off buying a two bedroom terraced Labour KiwiBuild home instead of an equivalent new build under National’s housing policy, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe.  “National’s policy to...
    Labour | 26-08
  • Another Day – Another big power profit
    The latest profit announcement from Genesis Energy shows that the power company was sold for a song to the detriment of the country’s power consumers, says Labour’s Energy spokesperson David Shearer. “A net profit of $ 49.2 million follows hard...
    Labour | 26-08
  • Labour embraces the rainbow
    Labour will work hard to ensure all New Zealanders enjoy the freedom to grow up and live their lives in dignity and security. Labour’s Rainbow policy, released tonight in Wellington, focuses on International Relations, Human Rights and Education....
    Labour | 26-08
  • National gets fast and loose with the facts
    In their desperation to make it look as though they are doing something about the housing crisis, National is playing fast and loose with the facts, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford....
    Labour | 26-08
  • Labour will drop power prices for Kiwi families
    New Zealanders will get cheaper power prices under NZ Power, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “The electricity market is clearly broken. With falling demand for electricity, prices should be going down. Instead prices are going up and companies are extracting...
    Labour | 26-08
  • Labour: Promoting sustainable tourism
    Ensuring New Zealand’s clean, green status continues to be an international tourism benchmark and reviewing MBIE’s oversight of the tourism sector will be on the radar under a Labour Government. Releasing Labour’s Tourism policy today, spokesperson Darien Fenton said tourism...
    Labour | 26-08
  • Skills shortage a result of National’s complacency
    The fact that there is still a severe shortage of skilled tradespeople, despite a growth in the number of apprentices, is a result of National’s failure to plan and develop the workforce, Grant Robertson, Labour Employment, Skills and TrainingSpokesperson says."The...
    Labour | 26-08
  • How much tax does John Key pay compared to a minimum wage worker?? – Mint...
    MANA Movement Economic Justice spokesperson John Minto is calling for a radical overhaul of New Zealand’s taxation system with calculations showing that a minimum wage worker pays a ten times higher tax rate than the Prime Minister. o Minimum wage...
    Mana | 25-08
  • Labour’s culture of science and innovation
    Labour will create a culture of science and innovation in New Zealand that will be the envy of the world, says Labour’s Innovation, Research and Development spokesperson Megan Woods. “Labour believes that good science lies at the heart of a...
    Labour | 25-08
  • Improving life for our new New Zealanders
    New Zealand’s international standing as a community that encourages and fosters all cultures will be bolstered under a Labour Government with an upgrade of the present Office of Ethnic Affairs to a Ministry. Releasing Labour’s Ethnic Affairs policy, spokesperson Phil...
    Labour | 25-08
  • South Auckland housing crisis
    National’s HomeStart package is nothing more than a political stunt designed to beguile South Auckland voters, said Labour’s Pacific Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio. “Few working Pasifika and Maori workers in South Auckland will be able to buy their own...
    Labour | 25-08
  • Home buyer subsidy discredited in Oz
    Treasury advised against National’s policy of ramping up home buyer subsidies after it was discredited in Australia because it pushed house prices even higher, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Documents released under the OIA (attached) show Treasury advised the...
    Labour | 25-08
  • Nursing hours explain turnover and high-stress culture
    A staff survey supports concerns nursing staff at Dunedin Hospital are under increasing pressure and that the emergency department is in a critical state, says Labour’s Associate Health Spokesperson David Clark.  “An ED nursing survey at Dunedin found that 80...
    Labour | 24-08
  • Underhand tactics prove case for axing donations
    Revelations that schools are using underhand tactics to coerce donations from cash-strapped parents further highlights the need for Labour's plan to increase funding so they aren't dependent on contributions from parents, Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “By law New...
    Labour | 24-08
  • National applies band-aid to housing crisis
    The Government’s flagship housing announcement is a band-aid approach that will push up prices rather than solve the housing crisis, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “House sales to first home buyers have collapsed as a direct result of the Government’s...
    Labour | 24-08
  • Climate change focus on the now for the future
    A Labour Governmentwill put in place a comprehensive climate change strategy focusing on bothmitigation and adaptation, establish an independent Climate Commission andimplement carbon budgeting, says Labour Climate Change spokesperson MoanaMackey."This is about future-proofing our economy. Making the transition to alow-carbon...
    Labour | 24-08
  • Labour’s 21st century transport pledge
    The next Labour-led Government will create a 21st century transport system for New Zealand that promotes the most efficient and sustainable combination of transport options, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Labour will rebalance the Government's transport spending away from...
    Labour | 23-08
  • Housing under National: the facts
    1.       House prices in Auckland Council valuations indicate Auckland house prices have gone up by one-third over the last three years. (Auckland Council) The average Auckland house price has gone up by nearly $225,000 since 2008, up over $75,000 in...
    Labour | 23-08
  • Labour irons out low income tax issue
    The increasing casualisation of work has led to many New Zealand families being disadvantaged through the tax they pay, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. "Many low paid workers are having to work two or three jobs to make ends meet...
    Labour | 22-08
  • Cornered Government comes out swinging
    The National Government is so desperate to keep its dead-in-the-water expert teachers policy alive, it has refused to rule out forcing schools to participate through legislation, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “John Key today attacked the Educational Institute for...
    Labour | 22-08
  • Pacific people continue to go backwards under National
    A report from Victoria University highlights the fact that Pacific people are continuing to go backwards under a National Government, said Labour’s Pacific Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.  “The report shows the largest inequality increases were in smoking, obesity, tertiary...
    Labour | 22-08
  • Wellington transport plan needs to keep moving
    The failure of the Transport Agency to properly look at alternatives to the Basin Reserve flyover is not a good reason for further delays to improving transport in Wellington, Labour MPs Grant Robertson and Annette King say. “The Board of...
    Labour | 22-08
  • Labour’s focus on inequality, kids and better job prospects
    Tackling child poverty and removing barriers to people working part time to enhance their prospects of moving into a fulltime job are highlights of Labour’s Social Development policy. Releasing the policy today, spokesperson Sue Moroney said while part-time work was...
    Labour | 21-08
  • Political staff should give answers under oath
    The Inspector General of Security and Intelligence should use her full statutory powers to question witnesses under oath about the leak of SIS information, says Labour MP Phil Goff. “Leakage of confidential information from the SIS for political purposes is...
    Labour | 21-08
  • High dollar, hands-off Govt sends workers to dole queue
    The loss of up to 100 jobs at Croxley stationery in Auckland is devastating news for their families and the local Avondale community, Labour’s Employment, Skills and Training spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The company’s inability to compete in international markets...
    Labour | 21-08
  • National’s flagship education policy dead in the water
    National’s plan to create executive principals and expert teachers is effectively dead in the water with news that 93 percent of primary teachers have no confidence in the scheme, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The fact that teachers are...
    Labour | 21-08
  • Dunedin will be a knowledge and innovation centre under Labour
    Dunedin will become a knowledge and innovation centre under a Labour Government that will back local businesses, support technology initiatives and fund dynamic regional projects, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “Nowhere has the National Government’s short-sightedness been more apparently than...
    Labour | 21-08
  • Inquiry into SIS disclosures the right decision
    Labour MP Phil Goff says the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has done the right thing by launching an inquiry into the disclosure of SIS documents about a meeting between himself and the agency’s former director-general. “This inquiry is necessary...
    Labour | 20-08
  • Labour – supporting and valuing carers and the cared for
    Placing real value on our elderly and the people who care for them will be a priority for a Labour Government, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. Releasing Labour’s Senior Citizens policy today David Cunliffe promised that a Labour Government would...
    Labour | 20-08
  • By Hoki! It’s Labour’s fisheries policy
    A Labour Government will protect the iconic Kiwi tradition of fishing by improving access to the coast, protecting the rights of recreational fishers and reviewing snapper restrictions, Labour’s Fisheries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “Catching a fish from the rocks, beach...
    Labour | 20-08
  • Mighty River – Mighty Profits – Mighty hard to swallow
    Mighty River Power’s profit increase of 84 per cent is simply outrageous, says Labour’s Energy spokesperson David Shearer. “Demand for electricity is flat or declining yet the company has made enormous profits. It is the latest power company to celebrate...
    Labour | 19-08
  • Collins’ actions were wrong, not unwise
    John Key’s moral compass remains off-kilter as he cannot bring himself to declare Judith Collins’ actions outright wrong, not simply ‘unwise’, said Labour MP Grant Robertson. “Under pressure John Key is finally shifting his stance but his failure to condemn...
    Labour | 19-08
  • The Press Leaders Debate – proof a newspaper can kill the internet
    No more beersies for you Mr Key. Seriously – was the Prime Minister drunk during this debate? I am so sickened by what passed as a Leaders debate, I will make this review short and vicious. Everyone involved in putting...
    The Daily Blog | 02-09
  • Voting starts tomorrow!
    On the telly, in the papers, on the Net, billboards on almost every street corner – it’s hard to miss the fact that there’s an election coming up. Everyone’s trying to win your vote on Election Day, September 20, (this...
    The Daily Blog | 02-09
  • Collins inquiry a whitewash before it has even started
    The farce whitewash that Key is trying to push through here for the inquiry into Judith Collins role in a hit on the SFO should enrage any NZer, regardless of how they vote. Whaleoil won’t be forced to appear, it’s...
    The Daily Blog | 02-09
  • Press Leaders Debate – Round 2 – 7pm tonight
    This debate is live in a Town Hall, Key has done well at these in the past, but since the hate politics exposed in Dirty Politics, expect real fury directed at Key. My guess is that Key will attempt to use whatever he...
    The Daily Blog | 02-09
  • MANA hit speed wobbles – why Annette Sykes will win Waiariki
    MANA are my favourites. But of late, their transition from crawling to sprinting has hit some speed wobbles. Hone’s and Pam’s aggressive attitude towards the media recently is very understandable in light of how connected many of the media were to...
    The Daily Blog | 02-09
  • Soz Cam – PaknSave boycott of whaleoil continues – time to start a boyc...
    Cam is so carcinogenic now, not even his mates in the Tobacco Industry are talking to him any longer. I suspect only the Israeli Defence Force propaganda department are paying for content on whaleoil now. Cam says that PaknSave have dropped their problems...
    The Daily Blog | 02-09
  • The Rock Fuels NZ Roastbuster Rape Culture
    This is making me feel pretty uncomfortable. Here we have an instance of Jono and Ben posing like “exposed celebrities”. But do you know what I’m seeing? I’m seeing two dudes who basically “roasted” a woman online (exposed pictures of...
    The Daily Blog | 02-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Kate Davis – Why beneficiaries need advocacy
    There are times when I am wrong. I was wrong recently when someone suggested to me that AAAP should be eligible for government funding to continues its advocacy work. That was before. Before dealing with advocacy on a weekly basis...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • TheDailyBlog September Political Poll Has Been Kicked Off
    The Daily Blog’s August poll has concluded and the September poll has been kicked off, asking readers: What party will you likely vote for at this year’s General Election? You will see this month’s poll in the right-hand sidebar of...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Kelly Ellis – Jamie Whyte, leave that poor seal alone!
    Worse than showing mere lip service to Rainbow inclusion, ACT leader Jamie Whyte showed stunning arrogance when appeared at a candidates debate on rainbow issues hosted by the Auckland University Students’ Association last Thursday. The stunning hypocrisy was evident as...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • Right wing can’t help but use scum
    Some people have been shocked that the traditional right wing party in New Zealand politics is so deeply embedded with scum like the blogger Whale Oil. We need not be so surprised. It takes a certain type to support the...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • EXCLUSIVE: National’s Ohariu candidate admits contact by Simon Lusk
    . . Wellington, NZ, 31  August – At a meet-the-candidates public meeting in the Rongotai Electorate, National’s Ohariu candidate, Brett Hudson, confirmed that he had been approached by “a mate”, who passed on a message from  National Party operative, Simon...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • Coalition for Better Broadcasting – Auckland Broadcasting Debate 2014
    Coalition for Better Broadcasting – Auckland Broadcasting Debate 2014...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • Petition for Governor General of New Zealand to Investigate all the allegat...
      Now we see the inquiry will be a whitewash, that is secret, won’t be consulted with the Opposition, will have limited scope and will ignore Nicky Hager’s book, we must demand the Governor General step in and demand an...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • Ashburton, 1 September 2014
    I NEVER WENT BACK to Aramoana after the killing. I had been a frequent visitor to the tiny seaside village back in the late 1970s and throughout the 80s. Its tall cliffs and broad beaches providing a colourful backdrop to...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • Checkmate in 1 move – how could Slater have known what was in OIA request...
    And now we get down to the final few moves before checkmate. If the following investigation is right, how could Slater and Collins have known what was in the Secret Intelligence Service Official Information Act request that hadn’t been released...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • The Edge Posts Naked Photos Of Jennifer Lawrence Without Consent
    Today the Edge website – owned by Media Works – published fully naked photographs of Jennifer Lawrence without her consent. It is not OK to publish naked media of any woman without her consent, full stop. It is absolutely disgusting...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • Bomber, Laila and Maggie – a highlight from Auckland Broadcasting Debate ...
    Bomber, Laila and Maggie – a highlight from Auckland Broadcasting Debate 2014...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking rant on Radio Hauraki: Today, how good was I i...
    Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking on Radio Hauraki...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Maggie Barry slags Laila Harre & blogger, audience erupt
    The Coalition for Better Broadcasting held their public meeting in Auckland last night and it became a fiery shouting match when Maggie Barry decided to slag Laila Harre and me off. 250 people packed into the Pioneer Hall off High...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • It has to be a full independent public inquiry and Key MUST front
      You know things are bad when images like this start appearing in the media.  It isn’t a ‘left wing conspiracy’ to point out the over whelming evidence of what is clearly a right wing conspiracy! If it looks like a conspiracy, sounds like a conspiracy...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Political Party social media stats – National playing Dirty Politics on s...
    Interesting data from friend of the blog, Marty Stewart, on social media likes and it shows an interesting question that post Dirty Politics should probably get asked…   …it’s interesting that Key has so many personal followers.  One wonders if...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • The depth of the National rot and the compliance of our news media
    I’m so tired. Aren’t you? I don’t want to read the news anymore. It’s awful and I feel ashamed of it. We live in a country that people all over the world would give an arm, a leg; their life...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Conservative Party candidate links smacking ban with suicide, sexually tran...
    If Chemtrails, faked moon landings and climate change denial weren’t enough, welcome to your new Minister for Spanking,  Edward Saafi... The anti-smacking law is to blame for youth suicide, youth prostitution and even sexually-transmitted infections, a leading Conservative party candidate...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • A brief word on the canonisation of Matthew Hooton
    Before we all start the canonisation of Matthew Hooton, let’s consider some home truths here shall we? While the Wellington Ruminator Blog, the blog who was previously mates with Judith Collins, now seems to have a crush on Matthew Hooton… …I...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • A brief word on undercover cops in bars
    Dunedin police booze operation labelled ‘creepy’ Undercover police officers drank in Dunedin bars as part of an operation targeting liquor licensing offences. While police said the inaugural operation was a success — with most bars found compliant — the Hospitality...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Judith Collins press conference
    Judith Collins press conference...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Angry Lawyer – Collins, Odgers, Williams and legal ethics
    We deserve better lawyers than Judith Collins Three of the worst offenders exposed in Dirty Politics are lawyers: Judith Collins, Cathy Odgers, and Jordan Williams. What Nicky Hager exposed them doing would be out of line for anyone, but from...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Pat O’Dea – Necessary Defence
    Increasingly climate change is becoming the main fracture line between political parties. Where political parties stand on climate change defines political parties and movements like no other issue. The Mana Movement like the Maori Party it sprang from, came out...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Why it is all over for John Key
    Image: Melanie D I’ve been confident that National will lose this election and that our focus should be on what a progressive Government needs to establish as its agenda in the first 100 days. Past that point, the establishment pushes back...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • A brief word to everyone who voted National in 2011
    I received this interesting email from a National Party supporter today… …let me say this to anyone who voted National last election – you should be ashamed by what has been revealed and what your vote ended up enabling but...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • EXCLUSIVE: Déjà Vu All Over Again: John Ansell confirms his participation...
      THE MAN BEHIND the Iwi-Kiwi billboards that very nearly won the 2005 election for Don Brash and the National Party has confirmed his involvement in businessman John Third’s and former Act MP Owen Jennings’ campaign to drive down the...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Public Broadcasting Auckland debate 6.30pm tonight now with Colin Craig &am...
    The Coalition for Better Broadcasting debate on public broadcasting happens tonight at 6.30pm in Auckland at the Pioneer Women’s Hall, High Street, Auckland City.  In the light of Dirty Politics and the manipulation of the media, public broadcasting is more important for...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Winners & Losers in Collins sacking plus what’s the latest on Slater...
      Make no mistake, there was no way this was a resignation, it’s a face saving way out for Collins, she was sacked.  My understanding is that National internal polls are haemorrhaging and that the powers that be within National...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Third party propaganda attacks incoming Labour-led government
    . . Further to a report by Daily Blogger, Chris Trotter, on receiving information regarding planned attack-billboards, the following billboard is highly visible to traffic on the southbound lane of the Wellington motorway, just prior to the Murphy St turn-off....
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Labour wins the Internet
    I’m sure I’m not the only one who tried to vote online for the leaders debate and couldn’t because the website was down. The next option was the txt vote, 75c a pop of course. So I’m not surprised that...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Anjum Rahman – Rotherham and the need to challenge willful bl...
    I haven’t been following the events in Rotterham too closely.  I’ve read about the basic issues and the culture of silence that stopped action been taken even after complaints were made.  That culture of silence is incredibly familiar, and described...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Review: Hairspray
      Oh Hairspray! What fun! Somehow I managed to miss the movie when it came out, I had no idea really what it was about though I felt it had a vague relation to High School Musical. In retrospect, that...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Mounting global pressure against Timor-Leste’s ‘death sentence’ media...
    East Timor’s José Belo … courageous fight against ‘unconstitutional’ media law.Image: © Ted McDonnell 2014 CAFÉ PACIFIC and the Pacific Media Centre Online posted challenges to the controversial ‘press law’ nine months ago when it emerged how dangerous this draft...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Curwen Rolinson – Spies, Lies and When Campaigns Are Fried
    Like most of the rest of the nation’s political classes, I was eagerly affixed to TV One from 12:30 on Saturday afternoon to witness the downfall of Judith Collins.Whenever we witness the crumbling of a titan of the political landscape...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • BREAKING: Whaleoil crushes Crusher
    Judith ends up shooting herself A new email has been released suggesting that Collins was attempting to undermine the head of Serious Fraud Office with the help of far right hate speech merchant Cameron Slater. Unbelievable!   She has been forced...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • BREAKING: Rumours Judith Collins gone at lunchtime
    Brook Sabin first of the mark with rumours Judith Collins is about to resign – PM announcing a statement at 12.30pm… …Paddy follows… …Vance confirms..   …if Collins is gone by lunchtime, it will be because the PM understands the...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • BREAKING: UPDATE on DIRT ALERT!
    Thanks to the information passed to Chris Trotter by “Idiot/Savant” from No Right Turn it is now possible to identify at least some of the persons involved in this latest example of attack politics. What follows is Chris’s response to Idiot/Savant’s timely assistance: Well done...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • Comparing burning puppets, hip hop lyrics and drunk student chants to black...
    Watching the mainstream media try and obscure Cunliffe’s surprise win in the leaders debate  is a reminder the Press Gallery is in depressed shock. The current spin line from the Wellington bubble media in the wake of Dirty Politics is that...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • Why has it all gone quiet on Charter Schools?
    They’re one of ACT’s flagship policies and the National Party have been gung ho in supporting them. So how come we’re not hearing Hekia Parata, Jamie Whyte, Catherine Isaac, et al singing from the rafters about what a resounding success charter...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • Moment of Truth – September 15th – Auckland Town Hall
    Moment of Truth – September 15th – Auckland Town Hall...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • EXCLUSIVE: Dirt Alert! Are the Greens and Labour about to become the target...
    WE’VE SEEN IT ALL BEFORE. In 2005 pamphlets began appearing all over New Zealand attacking Labour and the Greens. For a couple of days both the parties targeted and the news media were flummoxed. Who was behind such an obviously...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • The Donghua Liu Affair: the Press Council’s decision
    . . 1. Prologue . The Donghua Liu Affair hit  the headlines on 18 June, with allegations that David Cunliffe wrote a letter in 2003,  on  behalf of  business migrant, Donghua Liu. Four days later, on Sunday 22 June, the...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • The difference between Cunliffe & Key in the debate
    It was with much interest that I watched the leaders debate on Thursday night.  I watched with an open mind, always happy to have my opinion changed.  Maybe John Key is all the wonderful things that many say about him,...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Denis Tegg – When Did We Agree To Our Data Being Shared with ...
    New shocking evidence has emerged from Edward Snowden’s trove of documents about a program called ICREACH under which data collected by the GCSB is shared with 23 US spy agencies. Under new sharing agreements which appear to have commenced immediately after...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Independent Epsom Candidates ‘One Strike’ Crime Policy
    Best wishes to all of those who live in Epsom, Mount Eden, New Market, Remuera and of course the rest of New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Large majorities of NZ First voters would prefer Labour deal
    67% of those who voted for New Zealand First at the 2011 general election would prefer Labour to lead a coalition government if one is needed after September 20’s general election....
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Jointly owned urban development agency for Christchurch
    “Given the strategic importance of the Canterbury rebuild, it is logical that the transition from emergency governance arrangements is overseen by the Prime Minister’s office, but to maintain momentum in the city centre an expert development agency...
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Collins inquiry at best a Band-Aid, a permanent fix needed
    Collins inquiry at best a Band-Aid, a permanent fix is needed The Public Service Association (PSA) says the inquiry into Judith Collins’ behaviour must be accompanied by a process to restore the lost trust between Ministers and public servants if...
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Association welcomes new Chief Executive
    “The New Zealand Police Association is pleased to announce the appointment of Heather Verry to Chief Executive. Heather picks up the mantle from Chris Pentecost, who recently retired from this position,” Police Association President Greg O’Connor said...
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Young Voters Want Politicians to Grow Up
    Young voters want answers to the questions that directly affect them – but it seems as much as anything, they want politicians to grow up....
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Climate Voter election debate to get big audience
    Auckland, 2 September 2014 - Tickets to tomorrow night’s first-ever Climate Voter election debate have sold out but an online audience will also get to see the event live....
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • The Edge show disregard for consent
    The Edge has shown complete disregard for consent, for women’s bodies and in doing so has contributed to the wider issue of rape culture in New Zealand says specialist sexual violence prevention organisation, Sexual Abuse Prevention Network. Yesterday,...
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • The Rock is Fuelling New Zealand’s Roastbuster Rape Culture
    The Rock are still displaying without-consent images of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities online. They are making fun of this without-consent action, saying that she was "asking for it", etc. They appear to be supporting this kind of...
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • HRLA Condemns Murder of Filipino Human Rights lawyer
    Attorney Rodolfo R. Felicio, a member of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers , was gunned down while working on a land dispute in Rizal, east of Manila. Two caretakers of the disputed land were also injured in the attack....
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • SFO lays charges for procurement fraud
    Two individuals have been charged in the Auckland District Court today with Crimes Act charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office for alleged fraud against Mighty River Power Limited relating to procurement for the Company’s Southdown power station....
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Commitment to lifting wages good for New Zealand
    The Service and Food Workers Union has applauded the Green Party workers’ policy announced today....
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Sykes: There’s Only One Poll That Counts
    “One of the oldest sayings in politics is that there is only one poll that counts – the one on Election Day – and that’s the one that I am focusing on” remarked the MANA Movement candidate for Waiariki, Annette...
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Winston Peters Shown up by the Civilian Party
    Even the satirical 'Civilian Party' has now offered the Taxpayers’ Union more credible figures for the ' Bribe-O-Meter ' than Winston Peters’ New Zealand First. The Taxpayers’ Union Bribe-O-Meter now includes, National, Labour, the Greens,...
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Further criminal investigation into CTV Building collapse
    Police has today confirmed it will be advancing the criminal investigation into the collapse of the CTV building in February 2011....
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Greens policy to restore link between effort and reward
    The Green Party’s new workers policy articulates an alternative to wage repression and job insecurity based on restoring the link between effort and reward, according to FIRST Union. The core tenets of the policy include implementing an $18 minimum...
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Greens workers policy supported by union movement
    The CTU is supporting the Green Party’s policy launched today focused on improving life for working New Zealanders. “This policy shows the Greens commitment to collective bargaining as the best and fairest way to improve workers terms and conditions. It...
    Scoop politics | 02-09
  • Research Scholarships for Cannabis Treatments
    Medical cannabis research will be boosted by $140 million if the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party is elected on September 20. Pediatric epilepsy treatment will be one of the main priorities for the research scholarships....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Ngai Te Rangi Change to Tribal Elections
    Ngai Te Rangi has begun a postal vote of beneficiaries to change the way representatives are elected to the two Ngai Te Rangi tribal organisations....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Greens’ commitment to pay equity welcomed by workers
    The Public Service Association (PSA) says the 58,000 workers they represent will benefit from the announcement by the Green Party of a commitment to pay equity and to a living wage for core public servants and contractors....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Real People Powering Real Policy
    New Zealanders from all walks of life have helped the Internet Party create a full platform of strong, progressive and realistic policies that will create a better future for everyone, says leader Laila Harré....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • University of Canterbury to help with forestry safety
    The University of Canterbury is to launch a new research project to make sure New Zealand’s new forestry roads are safe and are established with minimal environmental impact....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Time to get serious about ending homelessness!
    New Zealand needs a comprehensive set of policies that address the housing and support needs of homeless people as well as significantly increasing the supply of affordable, good quality houses and flats....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Hundreds to join domestic, sexual violence march
    Several social service providers from across New Zealand have come together to call for an end to the epidemic level of domestic and sexual violence in New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Students helped with debt repayments
    New Zealand students now living in Australia are being reminded not to ignore their student loan debt as Inland Revenue expands its latest tool to help with repayments....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Launch of GenderNeutral.co.nz website
    GenderNeutral.co.nz are excited to announce the launch of their new website, GenderNeutral.co.nz ....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Factory farming debaters to look chicken in the eye
    MPs participating in a panel discussion about factory farming will come face-to-face with a real live hen, rescued from the claws of the intensive farming industry. Hettie the Hen will demonstrate to the MPs what little space is afforded to...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Leadership stands strong behind Internet MANA relationship
    “There is now, and always will be, a range of views about many issues within our movement and members are free to express them, but Georgina’s views on Kim Dotcom are not shared by the MANA Movement leadership or the...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Personal Statement by Matthew Hooton
    Personal Statement by Matthew Hooton 1 September 2014 For Immediate Release “This morning I made comments on Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon programme about an attempt by staff in the Prime Minister’s Office to interfere in the appointment...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • The Worm turns down for John Key
    John Key struggled to coax The Worm above the line in Thursday’s Leaders Debate, according to Roy Morgan’s Reactor, the original Worm. John Key struggled to coax The Worm above the line in Thursday’s Leaders Debate, according to Roy Morgan’s...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • The Edge Posts Naked Photos Without Consent
    The Edge website, owned by Media Works have published fully naked photographs of Jennifer Lawrence without her consent....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Statement from the Governor-General on Ashburton Shootings
    The Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, has expressed his deep shock following the shooting of three people in Ashburton today....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Update on IGIS inquiry into release of NZSIS information
    In recognition of the public interest, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, took the unusual step of providing an update during the course of an inquiry and confirmed today that she would be summoning a number of individuals...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • An Open Government Plan developed in secrecy
    The State Services Commission sent NZ’s Open Government Action Plan to the international Open Government Partnership (OGP) Secretariat on 31 July. The countries involved in the OGP since its inception - from the UK and US to Indonesia and Brazil...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • KiwiRail; another year older and deeper in debt
    That is a lot of money and there are lessons that need to be learnt before we pour in another $1 billion....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Fonterra China Deal Demands Safe Supply Chain
    The future success of Fonterra’s deal to sell infant formula in China [1] requires all milk it uses be safe and for Fonterra to secure its supply chain from contamination by GE DNA and pesticide residues. There is now significant...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • HRC praises Auckland mum for speaking out
    Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy has praised an Auckland mother of four who went public after humiliating treatment by staff at The Warehouse....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Southern DHB refers disputed issue to Serious Fraud Office
    Following advice from forensic investigation firm Beattie Varley Limited, Southern District Health Board has referred the expenditure at the centre of its long running dispute with South Link Health to the Serious Fraud Office. The parties have been...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • The Letter 1 September 2014
    Last night’s TVNZ Colmar Brunton poll puts the left and right 60 MPs each. United and the Maori Party say they will go with the side that gets to 61 MPs. ACT just needs just 1.3% or 28 thousand Party...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Shopping Giveaway Harmless Fun For Kids
    Family First NZ is rubbishing claims by critics including Gareth Morgan that the New World ‘Little Shop’ promotion is harmful for kids, and says that kids should be allowed to be kids. “Children love acting like their parents and pretending...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Red Cross launches employment service for former refugees
    New Zealand Red Cross is encouraging employers to give refugees a fresh startwith the launch of Pathways to Employment, a nationwide work assistance service....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • EDS welcomes Labour’s Conservation Policy
    The Environmental Defence Society has welcomed Labour’s Conservation Policy including the key objective of halting the current pattern of indigenous biodiversity decline within ten years....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Poverty is falling and income inequality is not rising
    “A Roy Morgan poll shows that the issue people are most concerned about is income inequality. This just goes to show how the persistent repetition of a lie bewilders the public. Income inequality is not in fact rising. And the...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Rotary NZ responding to Fiji water and sanitation issues
    Clean water and sanitation are vital to health. In Fiji Rotary New Zealand have been targeting 22 communities that are experiencing severe hardship mainly because they don’t have access to clean water for their drinking, cleaning and cooking needs....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Work & Income shooting a Tragedy
    Kay Brereton speaking on behalf of the National Beneficiary Advocacy Consultancy group says; “Two people shot and another wounded, this is a tragedy and our deepest sympathy goes out to the family and whanau of the victims, as well as...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • 1080 Poison Deer Repellent not Effective – Farmers
    Four deer have been found dead within a farmer's bush block, after an aerial 1080 poison drop applied with deer repellent. The drop was part of a 30,000 hectare drop across the Northern Pureora Forest Park....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Employment Charter will strengthen migrants’ rights
    Establishing an Employment Charter for construction companies is a critical step to strengthening the rights of migrant workers that are fast becoming the face of the Christchurch rebuild, according to an alliance of union groups. The charter has...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Global March For Elephants and Rhino
    It’s a trans-national business that funds terrorist organisations, fuels conflict in Africa, and poses environmental, development and security challenges. The illegal wildlife trade is also a lucrative business, generating an estimated USD$20 billion...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • New series of videos aimed at disengaged youth
    From the people who brought you 'NZ Idle' (NZ's favourite web series about an artist on the dole) comes a new series about election time: Choice Lolz....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Picket Of Leaders Christchurch Debate
    KEEP OUR ASSETS PICKET OF LEADERS CHRISTCHURCH DEBATE TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 2nd, 6 p.m. ST MARGARETS COLLEGE, SHREWSBURY STREET, MERIVALE...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
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