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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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  • Government can’t rely on geothermal to grow itself
    While Electricity Authority figures showing geothermal has risen from the fourth to the second highest source of power generation are a promising sign for a geothermal renaissance, there can be no cause for complacency, Labour’s Energy spokesperson Stuart Nash says....
    Labour
  • Big bickies for bosses despite subpar performance
    While public service workers are experiencing Grinch-like wage increases state sector bosses have pocketed early Christmas presents in the form of whopper pay hikes, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. “Unbelievably State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie got an additional...
    Labour
  • Consent should come before research grants for phosphate mining
      The Government’s decision to make a grant by Callaghan Innovation to Chatham Rock Phosphate is highly questionable, says Labour’s Science spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “The fact is that the company still has to get a marine consent to mine the Chatham...
    Labour
  • A Tale of Two Farms
    Pig farming has yet again been thrust into the public view with two programmes this week on Campbell Live highlighting the very different conditions for pigs on two very different farms. The first programme exposed the awful conditions on a...
    Greens
  • Dirty Dairy Accord failing to clean up rivers
    The first monitoring report of the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord fails to show progress on cleaning up our rivers since the Accord was introduced, the Green Party said today. The Accord's targets for stock exclusion are weaker than the previous...
    Greens
  • The Indignant Kiwi: Why we need to do more to protect our national bird
    A kiwi, about to be released into the wild, was first introduced to Prime Minister John Key and German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel on her recent visit to New Zealand. By all reports, Dr Merkel was delighted to meet the rather indignant...
    Greens
  • Conflicted interests and health promotion; my opinion.
    As it happens, I know quite a bit about health promotion. It was an area I worked in prior to becoming an MP. What differentiates health promotion from the strict biomedical model, or from health education, for example, is its...
    Greens
  • Transparency on foreign buyers register needed
    News that Overseas Investment Office officials have been working on a register of foreign buyers of New Zealand homes is a welcome surprise, but Land Information Minister Louise Upston now needs to be clear on the details of the project,...
    Labour
  • National moves on state house sell off
    The Labour Party understands the Government has decided to move ahead with a mass sell-off of state houses. Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says he has been told by sources that Cabinet agreed the plan for their sell-off this week....
    Labour
  • Back-down on expert teacher plan welcomed
    News that the Government has backed down and returned to the drawing board on its flagship ‘expert teacher’ policy will come as a welcome Christmas present to schools and teachers, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Teachers throughout New Zealand...
    Labour
  • John Key can’t duck the blame for internet and phone price increases
    Shareholders are winning out over Kiwi households in the latest episode of the long-running fiasco on copper network phone and internet prices, Labour ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said today. “As predicted last week hundreds of thousands of Kiwi households now...
    Labour
  • An astounding disregard for Māori Affairs
    I have sat on the Māori Affairs Select Committee for most of the last 12 years. I love the committee, its work, its constituency and I especially love how it works differently than other committees, with a strong commitment to...
    Greens
  • Plunging dairy payout will hit regions hard
    The plunging dairy payout will hit New Zealand’s provincial towns and farm service industries hard, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “Farmers have been bracing themselves for this expected announcement but it will be small towns and those who...
    Labour
  • Reducing inequality creates a stronger economy
    An OECD report finding New Zealand has one of the fast growing rates of income inequality shows “trickle down” economics has failed and that everyone is better off under a stronger economy, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “The Government should...
    Labour
  • Government surplus target turning sour
    The Government’s golden surplus target is under threat with today’s Crown accounts showing the deficit is $260 million worse than expected, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “It is two blows in one morning for the Government’s economic credibility after...
    Labour
  • Greens call for end to cruelty of factory farming
    The Government must end the legalised cruelty of factory farming, the Green Party said today.Footage shown on Campbell Live this week revealed yet again the appalling, but legal, conditions pigs are routinely kept in on factory farms. The conditions the...
    Greens
  • Milk price plunge creates $6b economic black hole
    The plunge in Fonterra’s forecast dairy payout to a seven-year low for farmers will create a $6 billion economic black hole, showing yet again that National’s failure to diversify is hurting the economy, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The...
    Labour
  • Gender Pay Gap: It’s a Matter of Leadership
    The State Services Commission’s annual Human Resource Capability report for the public sector shows the gender pay gap has not decreased since at least 2010. The gap is 14% across all management roles – a slightly bigger gap than for...
    Greens
  • Pardon me Minister, but the cracks are showing
    Cracks are appearing in Cabinet ranks with the Minister of Pacific Peoples, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, throwing his predecessor under the bus over a huge spike in spending by advisers, Labour's State Services spokesman Kris Faafoi says. "Spending to 'staff the...
    Labour
  • Confirmation of no confidence in schools plan
    That just 90 of the country’s 2500 schools have signed up to the Government's one-size-fits all performance pay scheme confirms a wide-spread lack of confidence in it, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The scheme, which creates ‘executive’ and ‘lead...
    Labour
  • John Key’s secret foreign buyers register
    John Key has been secretly planning a register for foreign buyers without telling New Zealanders, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Last week Andrew Little called on John Key to adopt the Australian policy on foreign buyers....
    Labour
  • Another kick in the guts for Christchurch
    The government has walked away from the people of Christchurch with Cabinet’s decision today to cut funding available through local Members of Parliament offices to assist people with their earthquake related issues, says Labour’s Earthquake Recovery Spokesperson, Ruth Dyson.  “Over the...
    Labour
  • State house sell off will make transience worse
    The National Government’s plans to sell off state housing will increase the rate of transience among the poorest families, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. The Growing Up in New Zealand study released today reveals families with children under two...
    Labour
  • Report shows need for independent food safety agency
    The inquiry into the botulism botch-up shows the decision to merge the food safety authority into the Ministry of Primary Industries was a failure, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “MPI has been severely criticised in this report for...
    Labour
  • National needs to pull their head out of the sand on climate change
    Green MPs were out across the country attending Heads in the Sand events this weekend. I spoke at the Christchurch event where a couple of hundred people mimicked the Government’s climate policy by burying their heads in the sand. It...
    Greens
  • Claims of pumping up the volume all noise
    New manufacturing figures from Statistics NZ reveal a further decline in New Zealand's export performance, highlighting the Government's ongoing failure to rebalance the economy, Labour's Economic Development spokesperson David Clark says."The National Government has adopted a volume-based approach in an...
    Labour
  • Latest secret TPPA leak reveals mass surveillance plans
    When the GCSB debate was in full flight I warned that a seemingly innocuous e-commerce chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) could become a stalking horse for the NSA to get its hands on our personal data, as well...
    The Daily Blog
  • Say ‘Yay’, not ‘Nay’, to this New Zealand Flag
    In 2017, we will get a chance to have our chance to choose what is arguably the most important symbol for our country; our national flag. I remember asking Jack Marshall in 1972, at a political meeting in Palmerston North’s...
    The Daily Blog
  • Mediation Between Lyttelton Port and Union Fails
    The Rail and Maritime Union (RMTU) has opted to continue its overtime ban indefinitely after mediation with the Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC) failed to progress collective bargaining.   “There was no substantial shift in LPC’s position today so the...
    The Daily Blog
  • Letter from Pakistan
    I was in Peshawar last week. It is a vibrant city with a real energy to it. It is my favourite place to be in Pakistan. You feel the energy as you drive around the city. I am in an...
    The Daily Blog
  • Lyttelton Port workers begin overtime ban
    Media Release: Rail & Maritime Transport Union Lyttelton Port workers begin overtime ban Workers of Christchurch Rail and Lyttelton Port have begun an indefinite ban on overtime, according to the Rail and Maritime Transport Union. The ban was announced at...
    The Daily Blog
  • So the United States of Torture is the ally we are supporting to re-invade ...
    How easy is it to con the sleepy hobbits of muddle Nu Zilind? Very. The despicable means by which this corrupt dirty politics Government have gone about trying to use the fear and anger caused by the Sydney hostage situation...
    The Daily Blog
  • A tale of two gunmen – how the media spins
    A tale of two gunmen – how the media spins...
    The Daily Blog
  • GUEST BLOG: Jill Ovens – Auckland Hospital worker cuts – Democracy the ...
    Auckland Hospital kitchen workers tell CEO Ailsa Claire (far right) a week ago that they did not want to be contracted out. Such was the arrogance that no contingency plans were made in the event that these workers would be...
    The Daily Blog
  • Political opportunists out in force over Sydney hostage crisis
    It hasn’t taken long for supporters of New Zealand’s so-called “anti-terror” legislation passed last week through parliament to try and justify it in the wake of the Sydney hostage crisis. Before we even knew much about the gunman or hostage...
    The Daily Blog
  • NZs new hobby – hating the poor
    Last week people queued at the doors of the Auckland City Mission. They are people that are living without enough income to afford the basics let alone the extras we as a society have come to expect at Christmas. Extras...
    The Daily Blog
  • The only people who believed National’s surplus illusion were voters
    Sigh – the sleepy hobbits of muddle Nu Zilind are pretty easy to con aren’t they? National’s surplus was always a joke that would never happen, but in every single focus group, voters believed by overwhelming numbers that National were...
    The Daily Blog
  • Key’s crocodile tears over dirty politics
    John Key: Bloggers ‘not big part of my day’ Prime Minister John Key says bloggers are not a “big part of his day” but he lives in a world where he can’t ignore them. Speaking on TVNZ’s Breakfast programme today,...
    The Daily Blog
  • Why we are in inequality denial and climate change denial
        We are a country in denial over our inequality and climate change. Both issues have the same thread that runs through them. 30 years of neoliberalism has generated its own cultural narratives and myths. We have been taught that...
    The Daily Blog
  • This weeks Waatea news column – Why proclaiming Key as the Politician of ...
      This weeks Waatea news column – Why proclaiming Key as the Politician of the Year is ethically bankrupt...
    The Daily Blog
  • Britomart violence raises questions over rail staff safety
    Media Release: Rail and Maritime Transport Union   Britomart violence raises questions over rail staff safety   The Rail and Maritime Transport Union is raising serious questions over the safety of the staff on Auckland’s train network after violent incidents on...
    The Daily Blog
  • Australia stares down Siege – National Party politicise tragedy
    The Sydney siege has finished, from the reports that are breaking the gunman, Man Haron Monis is dead and one of the hostages has also been killed. The Australian Police seem to have acted incredibly professionally and the real Australian...
    The Daily Blog
  • The termination of the Internet Mana alliance
    Last week the Mana Movement and Internet Party wrote to the Electoral Commission to cancel the registration of the Internet-Mana political party. It was a decision which brought the arrangement between the parties to a natural end after failing to...
    The Daily Blog
  • Peace breaks out between Greens and Labour
    Finally some good news for the Left. Peace has broken out between the Greens and Labour. One of the greatest barriers to a real relationship between the Greens and Labour has been the uncompromising arrogance of the Labour Party Caucus...
    The Daily Blog
  • Little keeps it stupid, simple
    Labour MP drops euthanasia billA bill which would legalise voluntary euthanasia has been dropped by Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway at the request of his leader Andrew Little. Mr Lees-Galloway had been canvassing support for his End of Life Choice Bill...
    The Daily Blog
  • Dear Ministry for Social Development,
    Dear Ministry for Social Development, I realise you probably already know this, but just a wee reminder of REALITY. You know – the reality of the vast majority of us who aren’t making ends meet and are struggling to live...
    The Daily Blog
  • Social Policy still in the dark ages when it comes to relationships
    Two years ago I became aware of the work of two very able barristers who defend low income women accused of relationship fraud. CPAG then began collecting cases and stories of horrendous misery and victimisation. Then penny was slow to...
    The Daily Blog
  • The truth about inequality
      The truth about inequality...
    The Daily Blog
  • Rather Than Sending Troops To Iraq … Brownlee May Wish To Consider Better...
    There’s something a little unsettling going on at the moment. Ok, many somethings. Of particular concern is the fact that right now, New Zealand troops are training at Waiouru for deployment to Iraq – and, assumedly, the ongoing war against ISIS. Brownlee,...
    The Daily Blog
  • West Papua’s Saralana Declaration most vital unity development for 52 yea...
    Newly elected spokesman for the unified West Papuan movement Benny Wenda is treated to a chiefly welcome at the opening ceremony of the “unity” meeting in Port Vila. Photo: © Ben Bohane/wakaphotos.com David Robie also blogs at Café Pacific. A...
    The Daily Blog
  • Helen says it all
    Helen says it all...
    The Daily Blog
  • When Fran O’Sullivan, John Armstrong and Cameron Slater are singing Andre...
    The mainstream media of NZ will never allow a Labour leader who threatens the bastions of neoliberalism from ever taking power. David Cunliffe found that out. So when the mainstream media establishment from Fran O’Sullivan to John Armstrong to even...
    The Daily Blog
  • Wisdom’s Mirror: Can Grant Robertson Slay the Neoliberal Gorgon?
    HOW TO ELIMINATE one’s rival without getting one’s hands dirty? It’s a problem with a prodigious political pedigree. King David’s lust for Bathsheba drove him to order Uriah, her unfortunate husband, placed in the front line of battle – where...
    The Daily Blog
  • GUEST BLOG: Miriam Pierard – Sweet Sixteen and able to vote?
    The level of voter participation in elections is an indication of the health of a democracy. Declining turnout across the democratic world, particularly among young people, has led to questions about the legitimacy of our governing institutions. It is time...
    The Daily Blog
  • Public Equity and Progressive Politics
    We heard from the OECD on Wednesday morning (10 Dec) [Focus on Inequality and Growth] that inequality suppresses economic growth. (Here are Radio New Zealand’s morning reports on this.) This is hardly a surprise to many economists and non-economists alike. The key point in...
    The Daily Blog
  • Analysis: Final Across The Ditch Bulletin for 2014 – Lorde Help Us!
    Analysis (Text & Audio): Across The Ditch – Selwyn Manning & Peter Godfrey Headline: Final Across The Ditch Bulletin for 2014 – Lorde Help Us! 5AA’s Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning.FiveAA’s Peter Godfrey and MIL’s Selwyn Manning present their last...
    The Daily Blog
  • Sharing intelligence with CIA torturers
    New Zealand’s spy agencies have long presented intelligence sharing with their US counterparts as mutually beneficial and benign. That stance has always lacked credibility and is now its impossible to justify. The just-released US Senate Intelligence Committee report shows that...
    The Daily Blog
  • Labour votes for Surveillance State. NZ First Opposes!
    A few weeks before the election, the New Zealand Labour Party decided to cash in on simmering popular discontent with the state of the surveillance state that National’s set up. Never mind their own previous and well-publicized brushes with egregious state-surveillance … they wanted people to know that...
    The Daily Blog
  • Economic ideology destroys us all
    The OECD’s latest report says “The biggest factor for the impact of inequality on growth is the gap between lower income households and the rest of the population. The negative effect is not just for the poorest income decile but...
    The Daily Blog
  • 3 simple words for the Labour Party
    I have 3 very simple words for all those Labour Party apologists who are trying to rinse Labour clean here. Get. A. Warrant. You can all try and spin this any way you want, but Labour voted for 24 hour...
    The Daily Blog
  • 2014 – Year of the angry white knuckle
    I knew Internet/MANA would have to fight National, ACT, Conservative Party, United Future, Maori Party and the mainstream media. I didn’t think they would also have to fight Labour, the Greens and NZ First as well. Apparently feeding hungry kids in...
    The Daily Blog
  • Chris Rock on cop shootings
    Chris Rock on cop shootings...
    The Daily Blog
  • Bank Lending: Restrictions and Favourites
    An important story in 2014 has been the Reserve Bank’s ‘loan-to-value ratio’ restrictions, which have made it extremely hard for first-time house buyers to get sufficient finance to buy a house. Corran Dann in TVNZ’s  Q+A (7 Dec) suggested that...
    The Daily Blog
  • This weeks Waatea news column – How should Waitangi Tribunal ruling on S...
      This weeks Waatea news column - How should  Waitangi Tribunal ruling on Sovereignty be implemented?...
    The Daily Blog
  • Labour sell us out on warrantless surveillance
    Isn’t it depressing that Labour are selling us out by voting for warrantless spying by an agency caught out smearing them? Last night Labour do what they always do, over compensate on Security issues. So terrified are Labour at being...
    The Daily Blog
  • This Is The Headline For Test Post
    This Is The Headline For Test Post Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut eget neque facilisis sapien laoreet volutpat. Nulla vel nisl nec purus interdum tincidunt. Phasellus orci sapien, vestibulum et pulvinar non, pellentesque eget leo. Sed...
    The Daily Blog
  • Question Time in Parliament Today – National Party MPs cheer graph that s...
    This is the graph the National Party were shown by Russel Norman in Parliament today and they all cheered…     …they cheered?!?!?!? That’s beyond denial, that’s just gleefully suicidal....
    The Daily Blog
  • NZ Pastor Prays For Homosexual Author To Kill Himself
    By Jayden Jameson and Jessie Hume If we ever needed a reminder that homophobia is alive and kicking in New Zealand we have Pastor Logan Robertson from the Westcity Baptist Church. The Westcity Baptist ministry could apparently be described as New...
    The Daily Blog
  • Political Journalism in the South-Pacific – a new direction for NZ influe...
    Last week, the incredible Pacific Journalism Review celebrated 20 years of promoting and supporting and standing up for Journalism in the South-Pacific. The conference at AUT featured journalists from around the pacific who have battled and fought and been punished...
    The Daily Blog
  • Antarctica minus the ice – welcome to your future
    Antarctica minus the ice – welcome to your future...
    The Daily Blog
  • REAL LIFE GUEST BLOG: Lou – 15 shifts in 12 months……permanently homel...
    This is Key’s real life – other NZers aren’t so privileged    15 shifts in 12 months……permanently homeless since May. I went to the Salvation Army yesterday on advice for emergency housing as my temporary accomodation had turned volatile. Just...
    The Daily Blog
  • Labour Party Members should be furious at reviews findings
    Let’s see The Standard use this image Well, well, well… Labour’s election review: What went wrongLabour’s review panel has reported its findings back about the party’s election campaign and the reasons for the low 25 per cent result, identifying problems...
    The Daily Blog
  • Judith Collins joins the Sunday Star Times and cements the Rights dominance...
    “I am not a Monster”, hissed Judith Collins   I don’t read the Sunday Star Times, so had no idea that they had just decided to make Judith Collins of all people a new columnist. Her appointment cements into place...
    The Daily Blog
  • Grey Lynn Festival – very Grey – Art in the Dark – very Dark
    The battle of Helm’s Deep from the Two Towers would have had better OSH conditions than Art in the Dark   Grey Lynn Festival – 2 stars So the Grey Lynn Festival happened last weekend. It’s a day where the good liberal...
    The Daily Blog
  • ‘Stalking’ Ede
      Tau Henare accuses TV3 of stalkingA former National MP has accused TV3 of stalking after one of its journalists attempted to question a former Beehive spin doctor. Today’s episode of The Nation featured an unsuccessful attempt to question former...
    The Daily Blog
  • Taxpayer Union, the NZ Herald and Len Brown’s secret hidden love den
    I love the way the NZ Herald introduced the discredited Taxpayer Union in their bullshit story about Len Brown’s secret hidden love den… ‘Secret room’ spending shows need for recall electionsA lobby group says revelations Auckland Council spent $30,000 on...
    The Daily Blog
  • SPCA welcomes glueboard traps ban
    The Royal New Zealand SPCA applauds the ban on the sale and use ofglueboard traps in New Zealand....
    Scoop politics
  • Mediation Between Lyttelton Port and Union Fails
    The Rail and Maritime Union (RMTU) has opted to continue its overtime ban indefinitely after mediation with the Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC) failed to progress collective bargaining. “There was no substantial shift in LPC’s position today...
    Scoop politics
  • Review into Phillip Smith’s escape submitted to Government
    A multi-agency review on the escape of Phillip Smith to South America has submitted its initial report to the Government today....
    Scoop politics
  • Len Brown gets haybales from giant chicken and Ms. Santa Cla
    Today at 10.30am, Ms. Santa Claus and a giant chicken delivered haybales to Len Brown’s office, urging Auckland City Council to decline a resource consent application sought by cage egg producer Craddock Farms....
    Scoop politics
  • Increased Abuse of Parents A Predicted Outcome
    Family First NZ says that the increasing level of parental abuse , especially towards mothers, is an unfortunate but expected outcome of the rise of children’s ‘rights’ and the undermining of parental authority....
    Scoop politics
  • Brownlee’s Misplaced War on Acronyms
    The beleaguered Minister of Defence who reportedly cannot tell an RFL (required fitness level) from an AWQ (annual weapons qualification) has declared war on military acronyms while proving the proverb about those in glass houses....
    Scoop politics
  • Fluoride risks whitewashed in rushed consultation
    Ministry of Health propose to exempt toxic industrial waste products used in water fluoridation from the Medicines Act 1981...
    Scoop politics
  • Practical Tips on Working and Living in New Zealand
    JUANderful Juan” in 7-Minute Migrante Video Project Shares Practical Tips on Working and Living in New Zealand...
    Scoop politics
  • Christmas Day in Prison
    Christmas Day in prison this year will involve swapping the main meal of the day, so that dinner will be served at lunchtime, leaving the evening meal to be sandwiches. This is standard practice for this day....
    Scoop politics
  • Alcohol advertising bans need stronger evidence
    Wellington (18 December 2014): The New Zealand Initiative’s Head of Research, Dr Eric Crampton, today urged Cabinet to look to the evidence before banning alcohol advertising and sponsorship. The Ministerial Forum on Advertising and Sponsorship...
    Scoop politics
  • EPA grants marine consent to OMV NZ Ltd
    The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has granted a marine consent to OMV NZ Ltd to continue its development drilling programme in the Maari oil field in the South Taranaki Bight....
    Scoop politics
  • DHB puts staff and patients at risk in order to save money
    The Public Service Association (PSA) is alarmed that the Waikato District Health Board (WDHB) is proposing to cut the 4 and 2 roster system, established nationally, for mental health nurses. The PSA represents more than 210 mental health nurses working...
    Scoop politics
  • Ambivilence about alcohol marketing recommendations
    Ministers Adams and Dunn issued a media release yesterday nearly two months after receiving a final report from their Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship, and four years following an original announcement to review alcohol...
    Scoop politics
  • Alcohol forum recommendations: a step in the right direction
    The Forum has stated clearly that that it accepts alcohol marketing plays a role in heavy alcohol consumption and subsequent harm, and that young people need to be protected from it by regulation....
    Scoop politics
  • Court Judgment: Nicky Hager v Police on Dirty Politics Raids
    Mr Hager alleges that steps taken by the second respondent (the Police): first, in deciding to apply for a search warrant in respect of Mr Hager’s premises; secondly, in applying for the warrant; and thirdly, executing the warrant at his...
    Scoop politics
  • Holiday home hazards revealed
    Common sense ways to look after your property this summer Auckland, 18 December 2014 – Burglars aren’t the only threat to your home during the holiday season, says AA Insurance. It’s more likely to be broken water pipes, burst hot...
    Scoop politics
  • Grieving families should be able to scatter ashes in peace
    Grieving families should be able to scatter ashes in peace 18 December 2014 Funeral directors are relieved that Wellington City Council has finally dropped plans to charge families for permits to scatter ashes in public places. Funeral Directors...
    Scoop politics
  • RSA Offers Condolences To Victims Of Sydney Siege
    As an organisation representing over 100,000 New Zealanders, the RSA has today condemned the actions taken by Man Haron Monis during his siege in a Sydney café, and offered their deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Tori Johnson...
    Scoop politics
  • Kiwi activists crowdfund billboard for Simon Bridges
    Almost seven thousand New Zealanders have taken part in a crowdfunding campaign, and have raised enough money to put a billboard up in Tauranga that is directed at Simon Bridges, the Minister of Energy and Resources....
    Scoop politics
  • Leaked TISA text exposes US threat to privacy, data security
    ‘The US is demanding that New Zealand and other countries accept sweeping rules that would override privacy protections for digitised personal and other data’, according to Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland....
    Scoop politics
  • Lyttelton Port workers begin overtime ban
    Workers of Christchurch Rail and Lyttelton Port have begun an indefinite ban on overtime, according to the Rail and Maritime Transport Union. The ban was announced at a mass meeting at the Port after negotiations between Lyttelton Port of Christchurch...
    Scoop politics
  • Ban on Alcohol Advertising Could Cost Taxpayer
    Responding to yesterday's release of the report of the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship, Jordan Williams, the Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union says:...
    Scoop politics
  • Farm safety isn’t helped by punitive fines
    Federated Farmers Health and Safety spokesperson, Katie Milne says she is concerned about the impact of the $40,000 fine for a Marlborough farm couple, who weren’t wearing helmets and carrying children as passengers. The Court case, and subsequent...
    Scoop politics
  • New online guide to NZ’s environment goes live
    The Environment Foundation* has launched a new web-based guide to the management of New Zealand’s natural environment....
    Scoop politics
  • Ban On Alcohol Advertising Just One Step
    Family First NZ says that a proposed ban on alcohol advertising at sports events as recommended by a ministerial forum is an important move, but will not solve the binge drinking and alcohol abuse issue on its own....
    Scoop politics
  • CLANZ scholarship winner to examine legal services to Crown
    Wellington in-house lawyer Tania Warburton is the inaugural winner of the research scholarship established by the Corporate Lawyers Association of New Zealand (CLANZ)....
    Scoop politics
  • Joint Australasian operation dismantles drug syndicate
    The Joint Organised Crime Task Force (JOCTF), leading a multi-agency team, has smashed a multi-million dollar international organised crime network following raids across Melbourne this morning....
    Scoop politics
  • Video: Meet Mark Gilbert, U.S. Ambassador-Designate to NZ
    Join us in welcoming Ambassador-Designate Mark Gilbert and his wife Nancy. They are arriving in New Zealand shortly and wanted to introduce themselves. Watch this video to learn about his connections with Aotearoa, and why he thinks the partnership between...
    Scoop politics
  • MIA Welcomes Review Findings
    The MIA welcomes the findings of the Health Quality & Safety Commission into child and youth mortality arising from the use of motorcycles, quads and other agricultural vehicles....
    Scoop politics
  • Quads Bikes Not for Under 16s
    Safekids Aotearoa strongly supports recommendations made in a report released today highlighting the dangers posed by quad bikes when ridden or controlled by children who are under 16 years of age....
    Scoop politics
  • Inquiry on Parliament’s legislative response to emergencies
    Public submissions are being invited on Regulations Review Committee’s Inquiry into Parliament’s legislative response to future national emergencies. The closing date for submissions is Sunday, 1 March 2015....
    Scoop politics
  • Switch off on the beach NOT at level crossings
    KiwiRail and TrackSAFE NZ have launched a new summer rail safety campaign with a message to motorists to stay focused and always look for trains at level crossings over the holidays. December is known as the month for family, festivity...
    Scoop politics
  • Report on child and youth deaths from vehicle use
    Quad bike and other off-road vehicle accidents second largest cause of child recreational deaths...
    Scoop politics
  • Inspector-General accepts apology for leak of report
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, has accepted an unreserved apology from Hon Phil Goff MP for disclosing some of the contents of her recent Report into the Release of Information by the NZSIS in July and August...
    Scoop politics
  • Santa’s naughty list shows NZPork in trouble
    Santa has provided animal advocacy organisation SAFE with an early copy of this year’s naughty list , as it prominently features many animal-abusing industries and businesses, with NZPork topping the list....
    Scoop politics
  • WWI veterans had persisting higher risk of early death
    New research on the impact of the First World War on participating New Zealand soldiers shows they typically lost around eight years of life and had an increased risk of early death in the post-war period....
    Scoop politics
  • Rainbow Wellington urges further change from Blood Service
    This week the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) announced the implementation of the agreed changes to blood donor deferral. For men who have sex with men (MSM) this primarily involves a reduction of the deferral period from five years to...
    Scoop politics
  • New Zealand Government signals reversal of fortune
    The Government’s robust $372 million forecast surplus from Budget 2014 will turn into a $572 million deficit, according to the 2015 Half-Yearly Economic and Fiscal Update and the Budget Policy Statement. Imports are cheaper and good export prices...
    Scoop politics
  • Time for Jobs that Count in the Meat Industry
    The NZ Meat Workers Union will launch a new national campaign to highlight job insecurity in the Meat Industry this afternoon in Palmerston North....
    Scoop politics
  • Protest at killing of schoolboys – Vigil 17/12/14
    A peaceful vigil will be held in Downtown Square opposite Britomart station – cnr of Queen and Customs St from 11-45 am: Wednesday 17 December 2014....
    Scoop politics
  • Social housing provider opens development in Johnsonvillle
    Social housing provider, Accessible Properties, will be opening eight new social housing units in a new housing development in Johnsonville tomorrow....
    Scoop politics
  • NCWNZ Wins Court Case
    ComVoices welcomes and celebrates the news that the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) has won its High Court case against Inland Revenue and the Charities Registration Board....
    Scoop politics
  • Cut Taxes + Cut Waste = Surplus
    Responding to the Treasury's Half Year Fiscal and Economic Update, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:...
    Scoop politics
  • Cuts in public services likely fromBudget Policy Statement
    The horizon for workers looks gloomy with the release today of the Budget Policy statement. “Continuing real cuts in Government funding of public services are inevitable as a result of today’s Budget Policy Statement. The policy ignores the social,...
    Scoop politics
  • Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update 2014
    The Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update (HYEFU) 2014 provides the Treasury's latest economic forecasts and the forecast financial statements of the Government, including the implications of Government financial decisions....
    Scoop politics
  • Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update 2014
    The Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update (HYEFU) 2014 provides the Treasury's latest economic forecasts and the forecast financial statements of the Government, including the implications of Government financial decisions....
    Scoop politics
  • Chief Ombudsman launches major review of OIA practices
    The Chief Ombudsman, Dame Beverley Wakem, has today begun a wide ranging review of Official Information Act (OIA) practices in the public sector....
    Scoop politics
  • The Tasman Sea got a little smaller this morning
    “Our hearts and minds are with the people of Sydney: the Tasman Sea got a little smaller this morning,” said Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy....
    Scoop politics
  • A safety message for the festive season from Housing NZ
    Batteries may be required for some of the best toys under the tree this year, but they are just as essential to enjoying the greatest gift of all, says Housing New Zealand General Manager of Property Services, Marcus Bosch. “Smoke...
    Scoop politics
  • Charity Wins in the High Court
    The National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) is delighted that the High Court has found in its favour in its case against Inland Revenue and the Charities Registration Board....
    Scoop politics
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