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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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    “Last week I put out a very strongly worded email to my colleagues about an online promotion about cannabis law reform” said MANA leader and Tai Tokerau MP, Hone Harawira “and I stand by that criticism today.” My concern was...
    Mana | 08-09
  • TE KAEA and NATIVE AFFAIRS live to fight another day
    “I understand that both the chair of the Board of Maori Television, Georgina Te Heuheu, and new CEO, Paora Maxwell, are now saying that my comments this morning about their plans to cut Te Kaea and Native Affairs, were wrong, and that...
    Mana | 08-09
  • How come the PM only pays 2.8% of his income in tax – Harawira
    “Before John Key talks about the piddling tax cuts he plans for low and middle income families today he needs to explain why he only pays 2.8% of his income on tax while a minimum wage worker pays 28% tax,”...
    Mana | 07-09
  • THE DEATH OF INDEPENDENCE FOR MAORI TV
    “If what I’m hearing is true, tomorrow Maori Television Service (MTS) will dump its news programme, Te Kaea, and staff will lose their jobs” said MANA Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira “and the Minister of Maori...
    Mana | 07-09
  • Labour recommits to Pike River families
    An incoming Labour-led government will do everything possible to recover the bodies of the Pike River Miners and return them to their families, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “This tragedy and its aftermath has left the families of the 29...
    Labour | 06-09
  • Voting has started and still no tax plan or fiscal budget for voters to see
    "Even though voting for the election has already begun, National still refuses to provide any details of its proposed tax cuts. And Bill English admitted this morning that he won’t provide any specifics until after the election", Labour’s Finance spokesperson...
    Labour | 06-09
  • National’s partners’ tax plans cost at least $42 billion
    If National forms the next government its partners’ tax plans will cost the country at least $42 billion, and maybe as much as $50 billion, wreaking havoc with the books, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker. “National claims to be...
    Labour | 05-09
  • Labour: Providing more opportunities for young Kiwis
    A Labour Government will ensure every young Kiwi under the age of 20 is given the opportunity to be in work, education or training, and plans to develop a conservation apprenticeship scheme to help do that, Labour’s Youth Affairs spokesperson...
    Labour | 04-09
  • Candles out on teachers’ slice of birthday cake
    Today may be Novopay’s second birthday, but there’s little to celebrate, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Novopay has cost the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars already, and the cost is still climbing....
    Labour | 04-09
  • National’s blatant broadband pork barrelling misses the mark by a country...
    National’s blatant pork-barrelling ICT announcement today should reinforce a growing sceptical electorate’s view that they are all about the gift wrap and not the present, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Instead of addressing the real issues - the woeful...
    Labour | 04-09
  • More evidence of the need to clean up the system
    The latest release of emails and messages between disgraced Minister Judith Collins and blogger Cameron Slater are more evidence of the urgent need to clean up politics, Labour MP Grant Robertson says. "This new evidence confirms a near constant flow...
    Labour | 04-09
  • Labour commits to stable funding for voluntary sector
    A Labour Government will establish long-term funding and streamline contract accountability for community and voluntary groups, says Labour’s spokesperson for the sector Louisa Wall. Announcing Labour’s policy for the community and voluntary sector, she said this would give much greater...
    Labour | 04-09
  • Better trained and skilled workforce under Labour
    Labour is committed to a skilled workforce that benefits businesses as well as their workers, and will increase workplace training to improve productivity and drive innovation, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “Labour believes the Government should support New Zealanders into...
    Labour | 03-09
  • Labour will make renting a better option
    Labour will provide greater security of tenure for renters, and build more state and social housing, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Labour believes every kid deserves a decent start in life. That means a warm, dry and secure home....
    Labour | 03-09
  • At least 15 new taxes under National
    John Key is the last person to talk about creating taxes, presiding over a Government that has imposed at least 15 new taxes, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “John Key tried a novel line in the debate last night claiming...
    Labour | 03-09
  • Labour will strengthen New Zealand’s democracy
    A Labour Government will act quickly to protect and enhance New Zealand’s reputation as one of the most open and least corrupt countries in the world, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “The health of any democracy is improved by greater...
    Labour | 02-09
  • MANA Movement says tax cut on GST must be first priority – Minto
    “If Prime Minister John Key has money available for tax cuts then cutting GST must be the first priority”,  said MANA Movement Economic Justice Spokesperson John Minto. GST is a nasty tax on low-income families”, said Minto. “People in the...
    Mana | 02-09
  • The Maori Party’s Mana-Enhancing Relationship with National – Minto
    “First we had Cameron Slater and David Farrar backing Labour’s Kelvin Davis bid to unseat MANA Movement Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau Hone Harawira.  Now we have Slater writing a pro-Te Ururoa Flavell article on his website, Whale...
    Mana | 02-09
  • There’s Only One Poll That Counts
    “One of the oldest sayings in politics is that there is only one poll that counts – the one on Election Day – and that’s the one that I am focusing on” remarked the MANA Movement candidate for Waiariki, Annette...
    Mana | 02-09
  • Local communities critical to Civil Defence
    Labour will focus on empowering New Zealand communities to be resilient in Civil Defence disasters, says Labour’s Civil Defence spokesperson Clare Curran. Announcing Labour’s Civil Defence policy, she says that Labour will work with schools, voluntary agencies and community groups...
    Labour | 02-09
  • Labour looks to long-life passports, gambling harm review
    A return to 10 year passports and a review of gambling laws are highlights of Labour’s Internal Affairs policy released today. “More than 15,000 New Zealanders signed a petition calling on the Government to revert to the 10 year system...
    Labour | 02-09
  • MANA Movement Leadership stands strong behind Internet MANA relationship
    “There is now, and always will be, a range of views about many issues within our movement and members are free to express them, but Georgina’s views on Kim Dotcom are not shared by the MANA Movement leadership or the vast majority...
    Mana | 01-09
  • Rebuilding the New Zealand Defence Force
    A Labour Government will make it a priority to rebuild the capacity of the Defence Force to carry out the tasks expected of it, says Labour’s Defence Spokesperson Phil Goff. Releasing Labour’s Defence Policy today he said the NZDF has...
    Labour | 01-09
  • Speech to Canterbury Chamber of Commerce
    Today I'm going to talk about our policy package to upgrade and grow our economy and how we turn that growth into a foundation for a decent and fair society. But first I want to address the issue of our...
    Labour | 01-09
  • Commission of Inquiry must have bipartisan support
    The Labour Party is drafting terms of reference for a Commission of Inquiry, Labour’s Shadow Attorney-General David Parker says. “It is abundantly clear there is a need for an independent Commission of Inquiry, chaired by a High Court Judge, into...
    Labour | 01-09
  • Rapid Transit to unclog Christchurch
    Labour will build a 21st century Rapid Transit system for Christchurch, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “The long delayed recovery of Christchurch hinges on a modern commuter system for the city. “We will invest $100 million in a modern rail plan...
    Labour | 31-08
  • Labour’s commitment to public broadcasting
    A Labour Government will set up a working group to re-establish a public service television station as part of our commitment to ensuring New Zealand has high quality free-to-air local content. “We will set up a working group to report...
    Labour | 31-08
  • A new deal for the conservation estate
    The health of our economy depends on New Zealand preserving and restoring our land, air, water and indigenous wildlife, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson. Announcing Labours Conservation policy, she said that there will be a comprehensive plan to restore...
    Labour | 31-08
  • Labour’s plan to end homelessness
    Labour has a comprehensive approach to end homelessness starting with the provision of emergency housing for 1000 people each year and putting an end to slum conditions in boarding houses, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “Labour believes that homelessness is not...
    Labour | 30-08
  • Labour: A smarter approach to justice
    A Labour Government will improve the justice system to ensure it achieves real public safety, provides equal access to justice and protects human rights, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Andrew Little says. “Our approach is about tackling the root causes of crime, recognising...
    Labour | 29-08
  • Labour to foster Kiwi love of sport and the great outdoors
    A Labour Government will promote physical activity, back our top athletes and help foster Kiwis’ love of the great outdoors by upgrading tramping and camping facilities. Trevor Mallard today released Labour’s sports and recreation policy which will bring back a...
    Labour | 29-08
  • Pacific languages recognised under Labour
    Labour will act to recognise the five main Pacific languages in New Zealand including through the education system, said Pacific Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio. Announcing Labour’s Pacific Island policy he said that there must be a strong commitment to...
    Labour | 29-08
  • No healthy economy without a healthy environment
    Labour recognises that we cannot have a healthy economy without a healthy environment, says Environment spokesperson Moana Mackey announcing Labour’s environment policy. “New Zealand’s economy has been built on the back of the enormous environmental wealth we collectively enjoy as...
    Labour | 28-08
  • She saw John Key on TV and decided to vote!
    . . NZ, Wellington, 15 September – ‘Tina’* is 50, a close friend,  and one of the “Missing Million” from the last election. In fact, ‘Tina’ has never voted in her life.  Not once. In ‘Tina’s’ own words, politics has...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • Eminem sues National Party for unlawful use of ‘Lose yourself’ bhahahah...
    …ahahahahahahahaha. Oh Christ this is hilarious… National Party sued over Eminem copyright infringment US rapper Eminem is suing the National Party for allegedly breaching copyright by using his song Lose Yourself in its campaign advertisements. The Detroit-based publishers of Eminem’s...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • Are the Greens about to be snookered by a Labour-NZ First Government?
    I wrote last week that it was smart politics that the Greens pointed out they could work with National, the soft blue vote that’s looking for a home in the wake of Dirty Politics isn’t going to Labour, so the...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • BLOGWATCH: Fonterra join 2Degrees and boycott Whaleoil
    In the wake of Dirty Politics, advertisers are pulling their advertising out of Whaleoil. PaknSave, Evo Cycles Pukekohe, Localist, 2 Degrees, Fertility Associates, iSentia, NZ Breast Cancer Foundation, Maori TV, Bookme.co.nz, Dobetter.co.nz and the Sound are now joined by Fonterra...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • PM Key accused of allowing secret ‘spook’ cable sensors to spy on citiz...
    Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald (left) and Kim Dotcom at the “moment of truth” political surveillance meeting in Auckland last night. Image: PMW By ANNA MAJAVU of Pacific Media Watch NEW ZEALAND Prime Minister John Key has been accused of...
    The Daily Blog | 15-09
  • Fiji pre-election ‘politics’ blackout stirs media protests, frustration
    BLACKOUT DAY – Monday, day one of the “silence window” in Fiji leading up to the close of polling in the general election at 6pm on Wednesday. And this is under the draconian threat of a $10,000 fine or five...
    The Daily Blog | 15-09
  • “Now the work of movements begins”: government corruption, media bias, ...
    I am so tired of the dirty politics of the National government, aren’t you? I am tired of John Key and his pathetic attacks on award-winning journalists who have spent their careers fighting and digging for truth and good. The...
    The Daily Blog | 15-09
  • Moment of Truth review, smoking guns and the awful coverage by the NZ msm
      There were queues unlike any the Town Hall has seen, 1000 were turned away once it became full…     …full to the rafters. The energy and atmosphere within the room was extraordinary, and it begun…   …Glenn Greenwald...
    The Daily Blog | 15-09
  • Why Maori TV’s Te Tai Tokeraou Poll will be proved wrong
    If Hone Harawira had a dollar every time the media wrote off his chance of winning Te Tai Tokeraou, he would have more money than Kim Dotcom. Remember the by-election? Hone was 1 point ahead of Kelvin in an exact...
    The Daily Blog | 15-09
  • September 15 RNZ interviews – and then the Moment of Truth
    . Acknowledgement: Emmerson . 15 September – Leading up to the Moment of Truth public meeting this evening, these Radio NZ interviews are worth listening to; . Alt link . Alt link . Alt link . Alt link . Alt...
    The Daily Blog | 15-09
  • Live Stream: Moment of Truth Tonight 7pm
    Live Video Stream by eCast: The Daily Blog will Live Stream the Moment of Trust public meeting from 7pm. The meeting will feature Glenn Greenwald, Kim Dotcom, Robert Amsterdam, and a very special guest…...
    The Daily Blog | 15-09
  • The proof Key lied about GCSB mass surveillance
    And we start getting to the evidence that proves Key has lied about mass surveillance. The article by Glenn Greenwald is out and it is beyond damning… Documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the government worked in...
    The Daily Blog | 15-09
  • A brief word on the Ede-Slater emails
    Every day I have rushed to read the paper to see if a breaking story on the Ede-Slater emails had broken yet. They haven’t. Day after day, where are these emails? We know Rawshark sent the emails to David Fisher...
    The Daily Blog | 15-09
  • The email that proves Key is a liar
    This is the Email proving Key knew about Kim Dotcom before he claims he did… “We had a really good meeting with the Prime Minister. He’s a fan and we’re getting what we came for. Your groundwork in New Zealand...
    The Daily Blog | 15-09
  • Henchmen
    Henchmen...
    The Daily Blog | 14-09
  • Why it simply isn’t credible that Key stepped in and shut down the mass s...
    Key’s staggering admission that yes there was a year long business model by the GCSB to mass spy on all of NZ but  that he stepped in and shut it down after Cabinet had signed it off just sounds like make...
    The Daily Blog | 14-09
  • John Key’s love affair with a straw man
    Politicians like putting up straw men for the purpose of self-righteously knocking them over. Prime Minister John Key has a particular straw man he loves to punch over. He raises it whenever he’s asked about mass surveillance of New Zealanders...
    The Daily Blog | 14-09
  • John Armstrong turns on Glenn Greenwald
    Where does a mediocre journalist like John Armstrong get off attacking a journalist with the credibility of Glenn Greenwald as he has in his ridiculous column today? Armstrong has the audacity to try and play the terrorism card to justify why...
    The Daily Blog | 14-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Denis Tegg – Which of John Key’s many statements on the GC...
    We already have Glenn Greenwald’s assertion on The Nation that John Key has misled New Zealanders as to whether the GCSB has engaged in mass surveillance of Kiwis. But Key has made many other statements about the GCSB’s powers and...
    The Daily Blog | 14-09
  • Election 2014: Numbers and Faces
    Democratic politics is a game of numbers and faces. How can we translate the numbers into the 120 or more faces that will be in the next Parliament? Below is my prediction of a likely result: 120 people, divided by...
    The Daily Blog | 14-09
  • Scotland the brave
    The possibility that Scotland will vote for independence this Thursday has panicked the British establishment. An unholy alliance of Tory, Labour, Liberal and corporate leaders has resorted to fear-mongering and bullying on grand scale in a last ditch effort to...
    The Daily Blog | 14-09
  • Why Key’s denials sound so off and why Dotcom’s fight is all our fight
    The shrillness of Key is the issue. His denials just too forced and rehearsed. Key has gone from Hollow Man to Shallow Man with his lashing out at Pulitzer Price winning Journalist Glenn Greenwald by calling him a ‘henchman’. This...
    The Daily Blog | 14-09
  • Letters to the Editor – Spies, Lies, Five Eyes, and other matters on a S...
    . . Sharing a few thoughts and observations with newspaper editors around the country… . from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>to: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014 subject: Letter to the Editor . The Editor Sunday Star Times . Our...
    The Daily Blog | 14-09
  • Letters to the Editor – Spies, Lies, Five Eyes, and other matters on a Su...
    . . Sharing a few thoughts and observations with newspaper editors around the country… . from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>to: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014 subject: Letter to the Editor . The Editor Sunday Star Times . Our...
    The Daily Blog | 14-09
  • As TDB predicted, Labour to use universal super fund to buy back assets and...
    Greens about to be snookered again?   As The Daily Blog has pointed out several times now, Labour will use a universal super fund to buy back NZs assets in a bid to offer Winston a legacy project… Labour plans...
    The Daily Blog | 13-09
  • A lesson in caring for our most vulnerable
    Some of the comments on this article make me sick. Because I am so very much over people who think they are better than others because things have gone their way in life and think those who aren’t as functional...
    The Daily Blog | 13-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Anjum Rahman – Please vote positive
    One of the features of campaigning is the meet-the-candidates event.  As an opportunity to present policies to the voter, they aren’t the best vehicle but still serve a useful purpose.  The problem is that there are too many candidates and...
    The Daily Blog | 13-09
  • For this who don’t vote this election
    For this who don’t vote this election...
    The Daily Blog | 13-09
  • Where does Key get off abusing a Pulitzer prize winning Journalist like Gle...
    We are seeing the Dirty Politics PM today when Key decided the best way to counter the Glenn Greenwald claims of GCSB mass surveillance was to denigrate Greenwald… Prime Minister John Key says he will prove Glenn Greenwald’s claims by the...
    The Daily Blog | 13-09
  • Teflon Man No More
    . .   On 26 August, as Nicky Hager’s expose on New Zealand’s right wing politics hit public consciousness and confirmed our worst fears, I wrote, “Dirty Politics” has achieved more than simply revealing  unwholesome machinations between National party apparatchiks,...
    The Daily Blog | 13-09
  • Dear mainstream media – regarding Key’s promise to resign if GCSB expos...
    Dear Mainstream media. How’s it all going? I would like to acknowledge the deep depression many members of the Press Gallery are going through as their boy Key looks less and less likely to win. I appreciate how a loss...
    The Daily Blog | 13-09
  • It’s official: ACT’s Jamie Whyte is several-sandwiches-and-a-salad sho...
    .   . There aren’t very many times I agree wholeheartedly with our Dear Leader – but on this occassion I believe he spoke for those 99% of New Zealanders for whom common sense is as natural as breathing air....
    The Daily Blog | 13-09
  • ‘I’ll not be intimidated … by cowards’, says Fiji death threat jour...
    Fiji Sun’s Jyoti Pratibha … death threats via fake Facebook profiles. Image: Pacific Scoop THE PARIS-based media freedom advocacy organisation Reporters Sans Frontières and the Pacific Media Centre have condemned threats and intimidation against political reporters this week covering Fiji’s...
    The Daily Blog | 12-09
  • Glenn Greenwald on TV3s ‘The Nation’ – Everyone remember when Key pro...
    Glenn Greenwald has just given his first NZ interview on TV3s ‘The Nation’ and what he had to say was incredibly damaging. Glenn is here for Kim Dotcom’s Moment of Truth on Monday and what he has just had to...
    The Daily Blog | 12-09
  • What will soft National vote do, why Colin Craig will be a focus in final w...
    In what has been the most unpredictable elections of our time, the final week promises more shocks and bombshells than World War One trench warfare. We have the media who still have the Rawshark emails that detail the Ede-Slater exchanges....
    The Daily Blog | 12-09
  • Would a National-Conservative Party reduce rights to an abortion? Legalise ...
    With the possibility of a Conservative-National Party coalition looming, let’s consider the impact of this new hard right religious Government on social policy. We know Conservative Party candidate Edward Saafi, believes the inability to legally bash your kids is responsible for teenage prostitution, teenage pregnancy and...
    The Daily Blog | 12-09
  • ACTs solution to crime – more guns?
    How insane are the ACT Party? Honestly? Their solution to crime is to arm every shop keeper with a sawn off shotgun??? “Criminals are well aware that shopkeepers are defenceless and are taking advantage of this in brutal robberies. What...
    The Daily Blog | 12-09
  • John Key’s gift to teenage girls…
    Yesterday I was at the MANA Movement policy release on “Predators on Poverty” in the Otahuhu Shopping Centre. Successive Labour and National governments have left vulnerable communities on their own to face these merciless thieves who prey on the poor...
    The Daily Blog | 12-09
  • Poverty denial – Where does National get its advice from?
    National is displaying a quite inadequate understanding of their own policies and worrying inability to respond to criticism. When John Key trots out his old, tired example of how ‘work pays’ on Morning Report this week to justify leaving 260,000...
    The Daily Blog | 12-09
  • Education reformers mean well, so what’s the problem?
    The thing about education reformers is that, mostly, they mean well. Whether it’s charter schools, National Standards, Teach First, or another reform, many people involved have good intentions.  They want to improve things, try something new and innovate, they say. The thing...
    The Daily Blog | 12-09
  • My brain hurts
    My brain hurts.  This election year has been a really long nine months.  The lies, the headlines, the spin, the policy, the chat, I am literally overloaded with information.  At times it’s been exhausting trying to keep up.  However I...
    The Daily Blog | 12-09
  • Slater loses Blomfield defamation case – has to pays costs & must dis...
    Great victory for Journalism today. The Defamation case Matt Blomfield took against Slater has jumped its first hurdle, Slater has been told he might be a ‘Journalist’, but he has no right to journalistic protection of his sources because there was no...
    The Daily Blog | 12-09
  • Seeing an Economic Vision
    It has been some time since my last post to TDB. I was fortunate to recently come back to NZ briefly for a bit of a break from my work in Pakistan. While my visit was super short, I took...
    The Daily Blog | 11-09
  • 5 reasons why anyone identifying as Left with a capital L should party vote...
    There are 5 reasons why anyone identifying as Left with a capital L should consider casting their party vote for Internet MANA this election. 1 – Feed the Kids: There is no excuses now that National have flirted with the idea...
    The Daily Blog | 11-09
  • What I want from a change of government
    The prospects for a change of government look a little brighter so I though I’d look at what we can expect. The only option being provided by Labour, the main opposition party, is for a Labour, Green, NZ First coalition....
    The Daily Blog | 11-09
  • Why is the “Progressive” Coalition so Regressive?
    Have you ever, when parallel parking, got yourself wedged into the curb? The car in front is centimetres away and your rear wheel is touching the curb at an angle. This is a metaphor for the state of economic policy-making...
    The Daily Blog | 11-09
  • Of course the Greens could work with National
    A warm soy latte with John Key?   Sharp in take of breath moment as TVNZ last night reported Greens could work with National post the election if National win. It’s a smart move. The Greens are so viciously anti-tribal...
    The Daily Blog | 11-09
  • Coalition for Better Broadcasting – Quality of Journalism
    “Skilled journos getting unwarranted shit from hack bloggers & online warriors could earn big $ in PR/marketing, so thank you for what you do”. As this tweet rolled across my screen this morning the irony had me rolling my eyes. Why on...
    The Daily Blog | 11-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Curwen Rolinson – #BlueGreen2014 – Or: The Media Jetskiis O...
    During Thursday’s iteration of One News, I was virtually shocked off my seat to hear a reasonably well-known political pundit slash nominal “journalist” prognosticating about the likelihood of the Green Party “switching gear” on its electoral strategy … and deciding...
    The Daily Blog | 11-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Michael Wood – Winning on the Economy
    One of the great tricks of the right over the past twenty years has been to desiccate debate about our economy. ‘The economy’ is spoken about as if it is an independent entity, divorced from the realm of democratic politics...
    The Daily Blog | 11-09
  • Unscrupulous worker highlights why 90-days works
    Federated Farmers believes the experience of a husband and wife farming team in Taranaki underscores why the 90-days provision is so important to small businesses. “Yesterday a member called 0800 FARMING to alert us to a guy doing the rounds...
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • Eye to Eye Uploaded
    Leading Maori broadcaster and political commentator Willie Jackson previews Eye to Eye Uploaded, a multi-platform series of interviews that he’s aiming to put in front of media radars next year....
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • Party Rankings against Inequality
    Revealed: which party will do the most to reduce New Zealand’s growing inequality crisis...
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • Maritime Union backs change of Government
    The Maritime Union says a change of Government is required to deliver secure jobs and decent wages for New Zealand workers....
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • Green Party package for newborns welcomed
    16 September 2014 Media Release The New Zealand College of Midwives has welcomed a policy announced today by the Green Party which would provide a package of essential items for every newborn baby. The College is a non partisan organisation...
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • ALCP Release Election Manifesto
    The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party has released its manifesto in the lead up to the election on Saturday....
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • Election Daily Update #9
    John Key’s National Party appears to have received a major boost from last night’s “Moment of Truth” event, according to the combined wisdom of the 8000+ registered traders on New Zealand’s predictions market, iPredict. Despite no major changes...
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • Eminem Publishers Sue New Zealand National Party
    Detroit-based music publishing companies sue National Party for damages for unauthorised use of song in election campaign advertising...
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • Parties Back Rethink of WINZ Shared Care Parenting Laws
    Overwhelming Majority of Parties Back Rethink of WINZ Shared Care Parenting Laws. Press release- Fifty Fifty Campaign, 16 September 2014 National is the only political party willing to defend the way WINZ treats separated parents who share their kids...
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • Parents Smacking Down Prime Minister
    "John Keys failure to deliver on his promise to change the anti-smacking law is costing National votes, and helping the Conservative Party," says Colin Craig....
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • Political Debate on Family Violence – Video & Audio
    The Dunedin Collaboration Against Family Violence was happy to host a political debate on Family Violence chaired by Professor Nicola Atwool of the University of Otago. Family Violence is a huge problem in our community and we invited representatives...
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • Greens Take Nanny State To A New Level
    Family First NZ is labelling the Green’s ‘welcome package’ for newborns policy as wasteful and misdirected. “This policy is taking ‘nanny state’ to a new level but indicates just how much the Greens want to intervene in family life,”...
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • 2,100 people send message about dirty politics
    2,100 people have signed their name to a full-page open letter featuring in the New Zealand Herald this Wednesday. The letter is designed to send a message to politicians that dirty politics is an important election issue....
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • Are DoC manipulating Rat Numbers?
    Ban 1080 Political Party co-leader Bill Wallace says there are serious rumours DoC has changed their rat counting technique to cover up the lack of the mythical “Rat Plague” claimed by the Department in Kahurangi National Park, and also that...
    Scoop politics | 16-09
  • Average Full time Student Is in Financial Distress
    A new survey has found that nearly half of all full time students are in significant financial distress....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Key and Cunliffe, research revealed by Ancestry.com.au
    Contrasting family histories of John Key and David Cunliffe, revealed by research from Ancestry.com.au....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Revelations a Damning Indictment of Key’s Honesty
    The Prime Minister’s honesty is now central to the election, says Internet Party Leader Laila Harré, following the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden that there is mass surveillance of New Zealand citizens by the GCSB....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Organisations Have ‘Duty of Care’ for Players says Law Firm
    Concussion injuries in amateur and professional sporting arenas are currently highly topical. Concussion potentially appears to have been implicit in the recent death of a young player in Northland....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Media Release from Closing the Gap on Health and Housing
    “Inequality is the biggest problem facing New Zealand at the present time” says Peter Malcolm National Secretary of Closing the Gap. It underlies many of our social ills, poverty, lack of trust, an economy that could do much better, and...
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Expanding Whānau Ora – a bottom line for Māori Party
    Leaving the best to last, the Māori Party has launched its Whānau Ora policy today following a fun family event at Te Ore Ore Marae in Masterton last night. “When we change what happens in our homes, we change what...
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Colin Craig’s Incredible Claims Continue
    Hot on the heels of a Conservative Party candidate proposing to double the price of a bottle of wine, Colin Craig has come up with an even more fantastic idea to buttress his uncosted tax policy....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • The Letter: Jamie Whyte is going to Parliament
    Friday night’s TVNZ Colmar Brunton poll puts Jamie Whyte in Parliament. TVNZ rounded down the poll result (ACT was on 1.2%). With the high wasted Conservative vote, just 1.2% makes Jamie an MP. It is ACT, not NZ First that...
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Why are we letting Dotcom steal our election?
    Why are we letting a convicted German fraudster and his American polemicists steal our election?...
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • ACT’s five point plan
    ACT has a five point plan to grow the economy by a third. To lift economic growth from the Treasury's long term forecast of just two percent to three....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Christchurch rebuild cost sharing plan must be improved
    “The agreement between the government and the Christchurch City Council about sharing costs of the rebuild is due to be revised in December, as some costs are more accurately known now than they were originally,“ says Warren Voight, Local...
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • ‘Key vs. Cunliffe’ Final Live NZ Election Reactor
    ohn Key and David Cunliffe go head to head for the final time on TV One on Wednesday as Election Day looms. Roy Morgan wants to know what you think about their performance as the leaders try one last time...
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Chamber welcomes Business Growth Agenda priorities
    Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce welcomes the National Government’s 10 highest priorities for its Business Growth Agenda as essential to continuing strong business performance and economic growth....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • #SafeSource NZ – A secure way to share the truth
    Dirty politics and a dirty environment go hand in hand. Our country’s future as a fairer, cleaner, more prosperous place is being threatened by backroom deals, corporate cronyism and a lack of transparency....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Last vid to encourage youth vote
    Here's the third and final in our series to boost the youth vote. It's called CINDER and it's a play on the popular dating app....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Fee hikes restrict student choices
    A survey of 5000 students from across the tertiary sector shows that tuition fees have increased at the maximum level permitted. Fees are constraining students’ choices more than ever before. Although tuition fees are only permitted to increase...
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • ACT’s five point plan to grow the economy
    ACT has a five point plan to double the rate of economic growth. The Treasury long term forecast for growth is 2% a year. We can lift it to 4%....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • iPredict Daily Election Update
    National’s forecast party vote has risen to 45.3% over the last day, at the expense of Labour and the Greens, according to the combined wisdom of the 8000+ registered traders on New Zealand’s predictions market, iPredict. A National/Act/UnitedFuture/Maori...
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • National’s economic strategy attack workers’ rights
    The National Party’s ‘Workplaces’ policy confirms that their economic growth strategy relies on attacks on workers rights, according to FIRST Union....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Questions Raised Over Cow Deaths
    The death of 200 cows after eating a new variety of PGG Wrightsons HT swedes [1] is a disaster for New Zealand farmers....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Final decision on Ruakura Development Plan Change
    The independent Board of Inquiry considering the Ruakura Development Plan Change has released its final report and decision. The Board has approved the plan change request but with amendments....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Confirmed – Smacking Law Needs Correction
    Family First NZ says that the ONE News Vote Compass survey showing only 23% support the anti-smacking law is no surprise, and confirms that it’s time the politicians listened to New Zealand families....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Kiwi voters urged to heed warnings
    Kiwi voters would do well to note the advice given this week to Queensland people by retired judge and renowned corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald, according to Democrats for Social Credit health spokesman David Tranter....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Fisheries policy analysis produces surprising results
    Nine political party policies were analysed to determine which party had the most public friendly fisheries policy and the results surprised LegaSea, an apolitical fisheries lobby group. “For the first time, recreational fishers have been offered...
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • $3m to help keep Hutt families healthy
    National Party candidate for Hutt South, Chris Bishop, welcomes news Hutt City Council has been selected to lead a $3 million anti-obesity initiative in Lower Hutt which will help families improve their health. “Healthy Families NZ is National’s new...
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • Community organisations struggling
    The survey, conducted by community sector network ComVoices, highlights the high level of frustration and urgency being felt by those who deliver services, says group Chairperson, Peter Glensor. 311 organisations completed the survey....
    Scoop politics | 15-09
  • NZ 2014 Election Index – 6-11 September
    Below is iSentia’s weekly Election Index for the period 6 to 11 September, showing the relative amount of coverage of nine Party Leaders in the lead up to the National Election across news media and social media. We will publish...
    Scoop politics | 14-09
  • Workers despair at Nationals lack of fairness
    “Nationals Workplaces policy, released today, fails to articulate any vison about how life for working New Zealanders can be improved.” CTU President Helen Kelly said. “Again if this policy focusses on removing work rights, its own documents...
    Scoop politics | 14-09
  • National tries to dodge the discussion on workers’ rights
    New Zealanders deserve a proper conversation about National’s plans to keep undermining the real value of their wages and conditions at work. “Today National has released a ‘workplace policy’ which will further widen the imbalance of power between...
    Scoop politics | 14-09
  • Didn’t Get Your Easyvote Pack? You Need to Enrol Now.
    If you didn’t get an EasyVote pack in the mail last week, you need to check your enrolment now as you may not be enrolled....
    Scoop politics | 14-09
  • Survey shows television without adverts could be vote winner
    Survey shows television without adverts could be a vote winner Television news focuses too much on politicians' personalities and not enough on the real issues, according to a UMR survey commissioned by the Coalition for Better Broadcasting....
    Scoop politics | 14-09
  • Which of Key’s many statements will Greenwald challenge?
    John Key's credibility and honesty will be tested on many more GCSB issues than whether there was / is mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the GCSB. I have put together this by no means comprehensive list of Key's statements...
    Scoop politics | 14-09
  • 4th tranche of Auckland Housing Accord licenses sprawl
    Youth organisation, Generation Zero, is appalled at the next stage of the Auckland Housing Accord, released today, as it is once again focussed on urban sprawl. The fourth tranche of 41 Special Housing Areas (SHAs), allows for 8000 dwellings, nearly...
    Scoop politics | 14-09
  • New funding to support high value food exports
    Auckland, New Zealand. 15 September 2014...Plant & Food Research has received funding for two new projects in the latest government science investment round....
    Scoop politics | 14-09
  • National, Greens Big Movers on Bribe-O-Meter
    The Taxpayers’ Union has updated its election policy 'Bribe-O-Meter’ to reflect the cost of recent campaign promises. The update takes into account Labour’s new fiscal tables and all announcements up to Friday and is based on numbers provided...
    Scoop politics | 14-09
  • Policy Costing Expert Questions ‘NZ Power’ Numbers
    Dr Michael Dunn, engaged by the Taxpayers’ Union to provide the figures for the 'Bribe-O-Meter' election costing website , is questioning the Labour Party’s costing of it’s flagship "NZ Power” policy....
    Scoop politics | 14-09
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