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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 | 29-10
  • Please help me get my Feed the Kids Bill to Select Committee
    Last week I took over the Feed the Kids Bill that Hone Harawira had introduced to Parliament. If passed, my Bill will provide government-funded breakfast and lunch in all decile 1 and 2 schools. Hungry kids can’t learn and are...
    Greens | 29-10
  • TVNZ Outsourcing Pasifika and Maori Programmes
    I’ve always been a big fan of our state broadcaster and I’ve particularly liked their range of current events programmes. But after Friday’s announcement that TVNZ will be sacking up to 40 staff by contracting out the Pacific and Maori...
    Greens | 29-10
  • Labour urges iwi leaders to meet with National
    Labour’s Māori Caucus has called on iwi leaders and national Māori organisations to seek urgent meetings with the National Government to directly express their concerns about employment law changes which will harm Māori workers. In an open letter sent today...
    Labour | 29-10
  • ACC’s reputation needs fix, not glitz
    Restoring public trust and confidence in ACC will take a lot more than a new communications strategy or social media blitz, says Labour’s ACC spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “Under National, ACC has come to be perceived as insensitive, difficult to deal...
    Labour | 29-10
  • Lessons to be learned from police investigation
    The outcome of the so-called Roast Busters case should not put victims off reporting sexual crimes, Labour’s Acting Deputy Leader Annette King says. “This case has been mishandled from the start. Within days of police initially saying no charges had...
    Labour | 29-10
  • Anti-worker legislation is anti-Pacifica
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, will go down in history as being part of a Government that harmed his own people through anti-worker legislation, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.  “Pacific people are among...
    Labour | 29-10
  • Five-year tax holiday for overseas tax dodgers
    National has just gifted a five-year tax holiday for foreign companies dodging their tax payments, says Revenue spokesperson David Clark. “Todd McClay has pretended he is doing something about overseas companies dodging their tax duties by joining an international initiative...
    Labour | 29-10
  • Traffic Jam Tax must be given the red light
    Auckland Council’s proposed Traffic Jam Tax could cost some households thousands of dollars a year just to use roads they had already paid for with their taxes and must be rejected, says Labour’s transport and Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford....
    Labour | 29-10
  • National has chance to show leadership on limos
    The National Party has the opportunity to show leadership by transitioning our vehicle fleet towards renewable electricity when a new contract to supply Government limousines for VIPs goes to tender next month, the Green Party said today. "This is a...
    Greens | 29-10
  • The Māori Party can’t have it both ways over labour laws
    The Māori Party has to fess up over its voting record on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, says Labour’s Māori Caucus.  “It’s simply not good enough to oppose the bill at the same time  as they helped speed up its progress through...
    Labour | 29-10
  • Equal pay and the aged care sector
    Today the High Court upheld the historic ruling by the Employment Court that our Equal Pay Act could be used to consider work of equal value cases; the government has been telling the UN and ILO that it could for...
    Greens | 29-10
  • Court case perfect opportunity for Government to improve gender pay gap
    If the Government wants to halt New Zealand’s slump in international rankings on the gender pay gap it should act on the court finding that women deserve equal wages, Labour’s Women’s Affairs spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “The World Economic Forum’s...
    Labour | 28-10
  • All Auckland transport options should be considered
    All options for meeting Auckland's transport needs should be considered, including reprioritising the transport budget away from wasteful spending on motorways, the Green Party said today.Auckland mayor Len Brown is today releasing a transport report by the Independent Advisory Board,...
    Greens | 28-10
  • Another report highlights Govt failure on child poverty
    An international report measuring the impact of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) on child poverty rates, showing children in New Zealand have done worse than children in other countries, is further proof the Government needs to urgently take additional steps...
    Greens | 28-10
  • Address and Reply Debate Part 55: Inequality and Disability
    I rise on behalf of the Green Party to talk about inequality and disability.The recent census showed that nearly one in four New Zealanders lives with a disability—up from one in five in the previous census. These figures include some...
    Greens | 28-10
  • Address and Reply Debate Part 55: Inequality and Disability
    I rise on behalf of the Green Party to talk about inequality and disability.The recent census showed that nearly one in four New Zealanders lives with a disability—up from one in five in the previous census. These figures include some...
    Greens | 28-10
  • Child poverty: No more wake-up calls
    A new report which shows the National Government has made no inroads whatsoever into child poverty should do more than just set alarm bells ringing, Labour’s Acting Deputy Leader Annette King says. “UNICEF’s  latest Innocenti Report Card highlights the fact...
    Labour | 28-10
  • Eugenie Sage speaks in the 2014 Address in Reply Debate
    I congratulate you, Assistant Speaker Mallard, as Assistant Speaker and look forward to your knowledge, your fairness, and your light touch in being a referee of proceedings in this House. I congratulate also the other Assistant Speaker, Lindsay Tisch; the...
    Greens | 28-10
  • James Shaw’s Maiden Speech
    Tena Koe, Mr Speaker. I would like to take this opportunity to speak a little of the past, the present and the future. The privilege to serve in this Parliament was given to me by all those who gave their...
    Greens | 28-10
  • Govt airs real views on public broadcasting
    An admission by the Government that it is happy to experiment with Pacific and Maori audiences shows just how weak its vision for public broadcasting in New Zealand is, Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. “National today admitted it doesn’t...
    Labour | 28-10
  • Does Judith Collins have a get out of jail card?
    Former justice minister Judith Collins appears to have been gifted a get out of jail free card based on the Prime Minister’s answers in Parliament today, Labour’s Acting Deputy Leader Annette King says. “Judith Collins claimed in an Official Information...
    Labour | 28-10
  • Solid Energy decision delay sensible
    Today’s announcement by the Board of Solid Energy that it will delay making a final decision on re-entering the Pike River mine is a sensible move, Labour’s MP for  West Coast-Tasman Damien O’Connor says. “It has been clear for some...
    Labour | 28-10
  • New York Green Bank off to a $1B start
    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced late last week the New York Green Bank’s first NZD$1 billion tranche of green energy investments. The projects, which are difficult for the private sector to finance, are now possible by New York Green...
    Greens | 28-10
  • Bartlett case means Govt must act on equal pay
    The Court of Appeal victory for Lower Hutt caregiver, Kristine Bartlett demonstrates that both the Government and employers have been ignoring and not fully implementing equal pay law, the Green Party said today.The Court of Appeal today upheld earlier rulings...
    Greens | 27-10
  • Rotorua shift for Maori TV a bizarre move
    The bizarre idea to move Maori TV to Rotorua is either poor planning or possible political interference that adds to the perception of a service in crisis, says Labour MP for Tamaki Makaurau Peeni Henare. “Moving Maori TV to Rotorua...
    Labour | 27-10
  • Second rate deal a no go – Goff
    A second rate deal on dairy in the TPP would totally contradict the agreed purpose of the Pacific trade agreement, Labour’s Trade spokesperson, Phil Goff says. “Both the origin of the trade negotiations and leaders’ statements on its objectives emphasise...
    Labour | 27-10
  • Legal victory a boost for all working women
    Today’s legal victory for equal pay is a much-needed boost for working women at a time when the Government is pushing through reforms which will make it harder for them to get pay rises, Labour’s Women’s Affairs spokesperson Sue Moroney...
    Labour | 27-10
  • National’s failed commodities export strategy exposed
    National's strategy to rely on commodities such as milk powder and logs has been exposed in the September trade figures released today, the Green Party said."National's strategy to hang all economic hope on exporting ever-increasing volumes of milk powder and...
    Greens | 23-10
  • Caution needed on calls to arm police
    There is no justification for routinely arming our police and doing so would change forever the way officers interact with their communities, Labour’s Associate Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. “As one of the few organisations distinguished by its unarmed status,...
    Labour | 23-10
  • Govt strains to get tea break law through
    The Government has been left with egg on its face - failing to get its much-vaunted, but hugely unpopular, meal break law passed in the first week of its new term, Labour spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says.“National desperately...
    Labour | 23-10
  • How low can you go? Mining the depths
    The company says there will be economic benefits, which the EEZ Act says the EPA must consider, but even these benefits are in doubt. The royalties while not set will be tiny, the profits will flow offshore, and whatever phosphate...
    Greens | 23-10
  • Fed Farmers defend GE Agriculture
    Federated Farmers, which represents a minority of farmers, appears to be captured by a pro-GE clique hell bent on increasing unsustainable technologies for the benefit of the herbicide and patent controlling seed companies. That there are better more sustainable farming...
    Greens | 23-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Blockade the Budget
    The ‘Independent’ Police Conduct Authority’s report into the policing of student protests in 2012 is a whitewash The report released by the Independent Police Conduct Authority into the policing of student protests in 2012 is a whitewash riddled with inaccuracies....
    The Daily Blog | 30-10
  • When National claim new anti worker laws provide ‘flexibility’ they mea...
    And so it comes to pass. The first law National ram through as part of their victory march are new anti worker laws they pretend will generate ‘flexibility’. The new law denigrate the unions ability to protect workers and provide...
    The Daily Blog | 30-10
  • City Transport: A Taxing Matter
    This week the prospect of paying tolls on Auckland motorways became a hot topic. (See Mathew Dearnaley:Motorway tolling could hit some hard, NZ Herald, 30 Oct 2014.) As we might expect, the kneejerk response has been quite negative. But, as with...
    The Daily Blog | 30-10
  • Open Letter to Amy Adams: Please Reopen The Review Into Sexual Violence Cou...
    Ms Amy Adams, Justice and Courts Minister, Right now in this country it seems that although rape is illegal, it is not being prevented by the agents who uphold the law. It almost feels like rape is only illegal on paper,...
    The Daily Blog | 30-10
  • MEDIA WATCH: Does ‘No-Surprises’ Also Apply To TVNZ News?
    When you stand back and look at NZ media outlets, most of them have at least one or two people who attempt to hold the government to account: John Campbell on TV3, Guyon Espiner and others at Radio NZ, David...
    The Daily Blog | 30-10
  • Things That Make You Go Hmmmmmmm
    Every so often in politics, a public figure comes out with something so absurd and so outlandish … that it really does just make you go “Hmmmmmmmmmm”. We’re accustomed to this from certain quarters – by mid point through the...
    The Daily Blog | 30-10
  • Poverty & inequality don’t need protest marches – they need a riot:...
    The global level of inequality continues to skyrocket… Number of billionaires doubled since financial crisis The number of billionaires has doubled since the start of the financial crisis, according to a major new report from anti-poverty campaigners. According to Oxfam,...
    The Daily Blog | 30-10
  • If Key knows who Rawshark is…
    I’m sorry, what? John Key ‘given Rawshark’s name’The Prime Minister believes he knows who hacked Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater’s computer and produced the source material for Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics, according to a new edition of a recently published...
    The Daily Blog | 30-10
  • Child Poverty stats in NZ
    Child Poverty stats in NZ...
    The Daily Blog | 30-10
  • Crimes Act + Police Investigation = WTF
    Just to frame the farce that is the Roastbuster’s investigation and conclusion – here are the parts of the Crime Act http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1961/0043/latest/whole.html#DLM329057  the Roastbusters are proven to have violated – that the police (and some suspects!) themselves acknowledge occurred: Crimes...
    The Daily Blog | 29-10
  • Publishing Journalists’ Home Addresses Is A Tactic Of The Right, Not The ...
    I think I’m starting to get rather annoyed with the conduct of some pro-MANA people over this ongoing Parliamentary Services crew complement issue. Yes, we get that there are legitimate issues to be raised with how some political reporters in...
    The Daily Blog | 29-10
  • Aucklanders caught between a tarseal-addicted government and a weak mayor
    Len Brown’s proposal for motorway tolls to reduce congestion and provide funding for better public transport is a weak response to a critical issue. The $12 billion dollar shortfall on transport funding he talks about is mainly for projected new...
    The Daily Blog | 29-10
  • A Very Weird Story: Deconstructing Darren Aronofsky’s Noah.
    NOAH is a curious movie. Conceived as a biblical epic, it’s target audience was originally the millions of Americans who regard the Bible as God’s inerrant word. With the sin-filled works of Hollywood forbidden to these true-believers, Christian movie-makers have developed...
    The Daily Blog | 29-10
  • You Can Get Away With Rape In New Zealand
    Jessie Hume with last years petition against rape     The police have sent a strong message today.  In fact they’ve been sending a strong message for a while; a message that our government supports. “You can literally get away...
    The Daily Blog | 29-10
  • Roast Buster case – no charges. In the immortal words of NWA…
    Roast Busters case: No prosecutions Police are to make an announcement this afternoon on Operation Clover, the investigation into the “Roast Busters” allegations. The Herald understands the victim has been told that the alleged offenders will not be prosecuted due...
    The Daily Blog | 29-10
  • Key’s flag change distraction to cost $26million!
    No. Way. Bid to change NZ flag to cost millions The cost of holding two referendums and consulting on a change of flag has been estimated to be just under $26 million. Look. We all appreciate that the sleepy hobbits...
    The Daily Blog | 29-10
  • Why NZ Herald’s Labour Party crocodile tears are so audacious
    The front page the NZ Herald would use if they thought they could get away with it No one can take the recent columns by NZ Herald seriously… John Armstrong: Shadow lingers on National John Roughan: Labour’s leadership vote matters...
    The Daily Blog | 28-10
  • The beginning of the end of Cameron Slater?
    Slater postings on man bizarre, court told A businessman has changed his appearance and had to install extra security at his home after Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater posted his business and personal documents online, he says. Mr Slater has...
    The Daily Blog | 28-10
  • We are a milk power republic and Fonterra our unelected senate
    Wow. Just wow… Deputy mayor says he’ll be sacked South Taranaki deputy mayor Alex Ballantyne says he expects to be sacked because he has spoken out about the impact gasses coming from dumped Fonterra dairy products have had on his...
    The Daily Blog | 28-10
  • MEDIA WATCH: “…But *actually* this is about ethics in political-game jo...
    Yesterday, a piece of mine on the recent revelations about Hone Harawira employing several gentlemen either accused or convicted of sex offences was published on The Daily Blog. Predictably, given the fierce loyalty which Hone inspires in his party faithful and...
    The Daily Blog | 28-10
  • Privilege cheque
    There was no race problem in my childhood. Living in central Wellington I was well-insulated from what was going on not so far away. This was the 60s and 70s, where the teachers enjoyed free love in the staff room...
    The Daily Blog | 28-10
  • A brief word on Key’s claim that it will be raining carnage
    Isis will ‘rain carnage on the world’ – John Key Left unchecked Isis would “rain carnage on the world”, Prime Minister John Key says, but he has yet to make a decision on whether New Zealand troops will join a...
    The Daily Blog | 28-10
  • Meanwhile…
    ...
    The Daily Blog | 27-10
  • How does Andrew Little win Labour Leadership and unify the caucus?
    Audrey Young’s excellent column on how the Caucus vote  is shaping up shows how Andrew Little becomes the next leader of the Labour Party. She identifies the factions as the following… Andrew Little 6: Andrew Little, David Cunliffe, Iain Lees Galloway,...
    The Daily Blog | 27-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Joe Trinder – Right of response to Curwen
    You have asked that Hone Harawira deserves to explain what happened, how would he explain when his next door neighbour is an alleged sex offender. What explanation can Hone offer he wasn’t involved, Hone had no idea this offending was...
    The Daily Blog | 27-10
  • MEDIA WATCH: That Hella-Weird Feeling When You Defend Tova O’Brien
    Oh dear. Yesterday morning I blogged that Hone deserved a chance to explain what exactly had happened as applies his office’s Parliamentary Services crew complement – and, importantly, that we deserve to be able to judge him on the strength of...
    The Daily Blog | 27-10
  • Canadian Green MP warns against harsh anti-terror measures
    Canada’s Green Party has provided a welcome counterpoint to Prime Minister Harper’s call for tougher anti-terrorism laws in the wake of a soldier outside the Canadian Parliament. On October 22, while she was still locked in her parliamentary office, Green...
    The Daily Blog | 27-10
  • When is an asset sale not an asset sale? When it robs from the poor and ste...
    National have turned state housing on its head. At no time during the 2014 election did the Key Government even hint that they were going to privatise 30% of the Housing NZ stock of state homes. Not once. Key even...
    The Daily Blog | 27-10
  • Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part To...
    . . Continued from: Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua) . Bill English comes clean on National’s intentions for HNZ privatisation . On 14 October, in a report on The Daily Blog, I wrote, In...
    The Daily Blog | 27-10
  • The Questions Have Been Asked – They Deserve An Answer
    A few days ago, allegations that had been percolating for some time about Hone Harawira employing three either accused or convicted sex offenders on his Parliamentary pay-roll came to light. (one imprisoned before working for MANA; one who found himself convicted and...
    The Daily Blog | 26-10
  • I have seen one future, and it is bleak
    . . Back in  March 2012, I wrote this story regarding a march to support striking workers at Ports of Auckland. It appears there was some prescience about some of my observations at the time… . | | 18 March...
    The Daily Blog | 26-10
  • US air strike war Key wants us in has killed a civilian a day so far
      The US air strike war that John Key wants us to join has killed a civilian a day so far. From the Washington Post... The United States launched its first airstrikes on militants in Syria on Sept. 23, and has continued...
    The Daily Blog | 26-10
  • The instant Jihad syndrome
    My favourite new term is ‘self-radicalised’ – it suggests the reasons for terrorism are totally divorced from the actions of the West. This need to suddenly ramp up terror laws because of lone wolf, self-radicalised Jihadists seems convenient and counter-productive....
    The Daily Blog | 25-10
  • We have nothing to fear from Ebola but fear itself
    I suspect most Americans perceive Ebola like this   I can’t work out if the fear being spread within the media about Ebola is deliberate or just ignorance. Yes Ebola is a terrible plague that kills a large percentage of...
    The Daily Blog | 25-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Anjum Rahman – “Meritocracy? I wish.”
    I’d like to start by linking to a post I had published at another site in support of Nanaia Mahuta for the Labour Party leadership election.  She has a reasonable chance, given that she already has the endorsement of Te...
    The Daily Blog | 25-10
  • Chocolate milk shortage and creepy Santa? Let’s talk about real news
    Child poverty is still a scarily serious problem in this country and house prices are soaring through the roof to the point where it is simply impossible for the average New Zealander to buy a home. There is also little...
    The Daily Blog | 25-10
  • It’s time to celebrate Kiwi schools and teachers
    Some would have you believe that New Zealand’s schools are in a state of collapse, that your children are not being educated well and that things are going to hell in a hand basket.  That there is no innovation, no...
    The Daily Blog | 25-10
  • Ideological Blitzkrieg – Privatization of state housing, more charter sch...
    Pundits in pundit land will tell you that this Government is boring, that Key is the great pragmatist and that it is his ability to create elegant solutions that keeps him the firm favourite in many Kiwi eyes. This ability...
    The Daily Blog | 24-10
  • Hegemony rules but resistance is fertile
    The Prime Minister is a puppet. Not just our current Prime Minister, but given the forces of multinational globalisation, the role of any head of state, is less as independent actor, and more as a puppet of international trends and...
    The Daily Blog | 24-10
  • An open Letter to Sir Bob Jones: demanding a ‘liveable wage’ is not “...
    How out of touch with reality is Sir Bob Jones? You know, that white dude who invested in privatised SOEs after the selling off of our assets in the eighties and made a ludicrous and disgusting amount of money and is...
    The Daily Blog | 24-10
  • My insecurity about the Security Council
    As I write this (on 24 October) it is international UN Day. Of course, you all knew that already, right? Well, the day celebrates the entry into force of the UN Charter in 1945. With the ratification of this founding...
    The Daily Blog | 24-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Catherine Delahunty – Back in That House
    Parliament opened this week and I still find it a very odd place. Most of the people are reasonably courteous and friendly, but the rituals are archaic and the rules around issues like the swearing in oath are oppressive and...
    The Daily Blog | 23-10
  • Marae Investigates No More
    TVNZ yesterday announced the closure of their Māori and Pacific programmes department. That means they’ve chosen to stop making Fresh, Tagata Pasifika, Waka Huia and Marae Investigates to let independent producers get their hands on these lucrative contracts. This is...
    The Daily Blog | 23-10
  • BLOGWATCH: An Un-Civil War in Labour, eh?
    Earlier today, my attention was directed to an entry that’s just recently appeared on the Slightly Left of Centre blog. It purports to contain the ‘inside word’ from a highly placed NZF source – which is funny, because I’m pretty sure...
    The Daily Blog | 23-10
  • Santanomics 101
    Santanomics could mean a number of things. It could be the study and practice of giving. Or it could mean the study and practice of rampant end-of-year commercialism. However, for me today it is the economics of erectingAuckland’s giant Santa...
    The Daily Blog | 23-10
  • SkyCity boss misleads public over workers lost shifts
    SkyCity CEO Nigel Morrison has defended the employment practices at his company in an “Opinion” piece entitled “Human Capital key to corporate success” in the NZ Herald on Thursday. A number of his claims are misleading, contain only partial truths...
    The Daily Blog | 23-10
  • Review: Perfect Place
    I went to a Perfect Place on Tuesday night, and what a delight it was. The marshmallows sweetly (and forcefully) handed out pre-show, set the tone for the next hour. Walking up the stairs at The Basement was a complete...
    The Daily Blog | 23-10
  • 5AA Australia – NZ on UN Security Council + Dirty Politics Lingers On
    5AA Australia: Selwyn Manning and Peter Godfrey deliver their weekly bulletin Across The Ditch. General round up of over night talkback issues: Thongs, Jandals and flip-flops… ISSUE 1: New Zealand has been successful in its campaign to become a non...
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • When I mean me, I mean my office & when I call whaleoil I mean not as m...
    This. Is. Ludicrous. Green Party co-leader Russel Norman put the first of what are likely to be many questions about Mr Key’s relationship with Slater, asking him how many times he had phoned or texted the blogger since 2008. “None...
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • A brief word on describing the Government as ‘boring and bland’
    The narrative being sown is that this Government will be a boring and bland third term. Boring and bland. Since the election, Key has announced he is privatising 30% of state houses without reinvesting any of that money back into housing society’s most...
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • Turia: Women’s Refuge Conference 2014
    This is a milestone moment in my life. This will be my last official address as Co-leader of the Maori Party. On Saturday night at our Hui-a-Tau, I will be standing down from that role and enabling a new co-leader,...
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • Rodeo Code of Welfare ‘Sick Joke’
    Animal advocacy organisation SAFE says the revised Code of Welfare for Rodeos just released is nothing but a sick joke. “Rodeo animals are goaded, tormented and forced to endure needless suffering and gross mistreatment, all for the sake of so-called...
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • Conservative Party applauds binding referenda on flag
    The Conservative Party are congratulating the Government on the decision to hold two binding referendums to decide the fate of New Zealand’s flag – and believes it will pave the way for binding referenda to form part of New Zealand...
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • Walk the Talk – Opposing violence against women
    Soroptimist International of Auckland have organised a walk on 22 November from Silo Park at the Wynyard Quarter through the Viaduct and back to Silo Park, to show their opposition to violence against women. This event hopes to raise awareness...
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • Recommendations on the Design of Pecuniary Penalties
    The Law Commission has reviewed the use of pecuniary penalties as a regulatory tool. Pecuniary penalties are financial penalties that policymakers are increasingly opting to use in place of criminal sanctions in order to punish and deter misconduct in...
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • Every worker will be affected by employment law changes
    Every worker will feel the effects of the government’s new employment laws and should join a union if they want to maintain and increase their wages and conditions, says New Zealand’s largest private sector union, the EPMU....
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • Shameful attack on all workers
    The Government has passed the Employment Relations Amendment Act slashing the rights of all Kiwi workers. “These changes are shameful. New Zealand now has some of the worst employment protections in the OECD. It is embarrassing that a country which...
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • Unnecessary law changes more to do with ideology
    The government’s employment law changes are simply ideological and are at odds with its approach in the related areas of health and safety and immigration law, FIRST Union said tonight....
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • CTU Runanga calls on iwi leaders
    Maori workers are calling on iwi leaders to speak out against the employment law changes expected to go through today. “Iwi leaders have previously spoken out when workers in Aotearoa have been under attack, we believe they should do so...
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • Educating children not the best solution to alcohol harm
    Alcohol Healthwatch says we need to look beyond educating children and young people to address deeply embedded attitudes and behaviours concerning alcohol....
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • New code of welfare for rodeos released
    New standards to strengthen the animal welfare requirements for rodeos have been issued today by the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy....
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • IPCA report riddle with inaccuracies, say students
    A report by the Independent Police Conduct Authority into the policing of student protests in 2012 is riddled with inaccuracies, say students who laid the original complaint with the IPCA....
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • CT v The Queen – indecency convictions quashed
    This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It does not comprise part of the reasons for that judgment. The full judgment with reasons is the only authoritative document. The full text of the judgment...
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • Rameka v The Queen – murder convictions quashed
    This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It does not comprise part of the reasons for that judgment. The full judgment with reasons is the only authoritative document. The full text of the judgment...
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • Auckland Council Out of Control
    Responding to the NZ Herald article that some Auckland households will face a rates rise of up to 9.6 per cent next year, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says: “Len Brown’s pledge to cap rates rises at 2.5 per...
    Scoop politics | 30-10
  • Stats NZ staff escalate action with ‘no more meetings’ rule
    Statistics NZ staff have voted to escalate their ongoing industrial action in an effort to get Stats NZ back to the bargaining table with a reasonable offer. The staff, who are members of the Public Service Association (PSA), have been...
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Rape Crisis calls for changes to criminal justice system
    Wellington Rape Crisis has added its voice to the public outcry following the announcement that there will be no charges in the teen rape gang case. Butterworth says the decision not to lay charges will not have been a surprise...
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Police action justified in Blockade the Budget demonstration
    Police actions in dealing with a demonstration in Central Auckland known as Blockade the Budget on 1 June 2012 were justified and appropriate, an Independent Police Conduct Authority report released today found....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • NZDF Joins with Australia to Commemorate WWI Centenary
    A contingent of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel will join their Australian counterparts at Australia’s first major commemoration of the First World War centenary in Albany, Western Australia this weekend....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Reserve Bank should reduce interest rate
    “The Reserve Bank should be reducing its policy interest rate, the OCR”, says CTU Economist Bill Rosenberg in response to the Bank’s announcement today that it is not increasing it....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • 2015 Stout Fellow will write about Māori & Criminal Justice
    Kim Workman, founder and advocate for the Robson Hanan Trust, which administers the Rethinking Crime and Punishment and Justspeak initiatives, has been awarded the 2015 John David Stout Fellowship at Victoria University....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • What John Key thought about ‘dirty politics’
    On September 20, John Key swept to victory to become one of New Zealand’s most successful and popular Prime Ministers. Rocked by scandal, the 2014 election campaign was one of the most brutal – and riveting – in recent history....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Trade Deal Threatens Farmers and Food Businesses
    The secret Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations are a direct threat to food businesses and farmers, and a moratorium on the release of GE crops must be enshrined in law before the TPP is signed....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • CTU announces election of new Secretary
    The contested election for the position of CTU Secretary has been won by Sam Huggard. Sam officially takes office on Monday 1 December 2014. Sam has worked in the union movement and brings a wealth of experience and a commitment...
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Kim Workman awarded 2015 J.D. Stout Fellowship
    The Victoria University of Wellington 2015 J.D. Stout Fellowship, funded by the Stout Trust, has been awarded to justice reform advocate Kim Workman. Mr Workman (Ngati Kahungungu ki Wairarapa, Rangitaane) is well known for his work on criminal justice,...
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • TPPA causing concern
    Concern over the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations is being expressed in two public meetings over the next week; one at a presentation on 5th November by former councillor Robin Gwynn to the Napier City Council, the...
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Kiwis rally to demand justice for ‘Roast Buster’ survivors
    Over 1,500 kiwis have rallied to demand justice after the announcement of the NZ Police decision not to lay charges in the ‘Roast Busters’ saga....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • New employment law will hurt the most vulnerable NZers
    The Public Service Association (PSA) says changes to the Employment Relations Act, expected to be passed in Parliament tonight, will hurt vulnerable workers and their families more than anyone....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Consultation to close on proposed place names
    The New Zealand Geographic Board (NZGB) Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa today advised that only one month remains before public consultation closes for 18 name proposals for geographic features and places around Te Ika ā Māui (the North Island)....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Operation Clover – Statement from Police Commissioner
    I have taken a close interest in this investigation and I am confident police have conducted a thorough and professional enquiry in what has been a challenging and complex case. The Operation Clover team has ensured that victims have been...
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Better policy would have protected children from recession
    Child Poverty Action Group says an international report released by UNICEF today shows good policy can protect and improve child well-being, even during a recession....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Outcome of Operation Clover investigation
    Police have completed a multi-agency investigation, Operation Clover, into the activities of a group calling themselves “The Roast Busters”. The 12 month enquiry focused on incidents involving allegations of sexual offending against a number of girls...
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • False birth registration brings home detention
    A Whangarei woman who attempted to register the birth of a fictitious child to claim a sole parent benefit was sentenced to six months home detention in the Whangarei District Court today....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Family of Robert Ellis demand a proper investigation
    The family of a New Zealander killed in Indonesia are growing increasingly concerned at the lack of information they’ve received, and the handling of the investigation into his murder....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Minister of Health must account for aged care workers’ pay
    The New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW NZ) congratulates rest-home worker Kristine Bartlett on her landmark claim for equal pay from her employer and successfully pursuing this to the Court of Appeal....
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Labour leadership candidates in Invercargill
    The four candidates for Labour Leader – Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, David Parker and Grant Robertson - will be in Invercargill on Friday evening for a Husting meeting with members, as part of fourteen Husting Meetings being held nationwide as...
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Public now needs to have its say over new tolls
    “I welcome the likes of new tolls and fuel taxes going out for public consultation after these matters have been talked about for 20 years. However the timing is not ideal as it comes on top of the likes of...
    Scoop politics | 29-10
  • Kiwis to fight back against TPPA ‘corporate trap’
    New Zealanders in at least sixteen different locations around the country are organising for an International Day of Action against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) on 8 November, co-ordinated by It's Our Future NZ. This is part of an international...
    Scoop politics | 28-10
  • Taxpayers’ Union Welcomes NZ First MP’s Resignation
    The Taxpayers’ Union is welcoming NZ First MP, Clayton Mitchell’s resignation from the Tauranga City Council, despite Party Leader Winston Peters' public comments in July that Mr Mitchell would do both jobs if elected to Parliament. The Union's...
    Scoop politics | 28-10
  • Stopping unnecessary roading projects solution to transport
    Today Auckland Council released the Funding Auckland’s Transport Future report which claims Aucklanders need to choose higher rates, petrol taxes or tolls to pay for future transport projects, when the real issue is the prioritisation of unnecessary...
    Scoop politics | 28-10
  • Fixing Auckland’s transport
    Today marks a critical step in the most important funding debate Auckland has ever had: whether or not Aucklanders are willing to pay for the transport system this city desperately needs to keep it moving, says Mayor Len Brown....
    Scoop politics | 28-10
  • The New Zealand Gazette Moves into the Digital Age
    On Monday 20 October, the New Zealand Gazette was published completely online bringing to a close 173 years as a purely printed publication. First published in 1841 as the official government newspaper, the Gazette website gazette.govt.nz , replaces...
    Scoop politics | 28-10
  • International report shows NZ struggling with child poverty
    A report by UNICEF International shows that child poverty rates in New Zealand have scarcely changed since 2008 – this stands in contrast to a number of other countries that managed to significantly reduce child poverty in this time, including...
    Scoop politics | 28-10
  • Labour leadership candidates in Dunedin
    The four candidates for Labour Leader – Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, David Parker and Grant Robertson - will be in Dunedin on Thursday evening for a Husting meeting with members, as part of fourteen Husting Meetings being held nationwide as...
    Scoop politics | 28-10
  • UNICEF Report a Waste of Paper
    In response to the hysteria coming from the far left, Josh Forman of slightlyleftofcentre.co.nz writes the following:...
    Scoop politics | 28-10
  • Press Council opens doors to digital media
    The New Zealand Press Council, the body which handles complaints against newspapers and magazines and their websites, is offering associate membership status to news and commentary-oriented digital media including bloggers....
    Scoop politics | 28-10
  • Tolls Should Be for New Roads, Not Old Ones
    The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming Auckland Council for wanting to introduce a motorist tax under the guise of ‘tolls’. Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:...
    Scoop politics | 28-10
  • Media freedom in West Papua: Protest at Indonesian embassy
    Today, Wednesday 29 October, there will be a peaceful protest at the Indonesian Embassy in Wellington to call on new Indonesian President Joko Widodo to honour his election promise to ensure greater media freedom in West Papua....
    Scoop politics | 28-10
  • Lack of leadership blamed for decline in Gender Equity
    BPW NZ challenges NZ’s lack of leadership with the decline in Gender Equity Ranking...
    Scoop politics | 28-10
  • Richard Falk visit to NZ
    Professor Richard Falk, who recently completed a six-year term as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, will deliver a public lecture in Dunedin on Monday 10 November....
    Scoop politics | 28-10
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