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The art of the possible

Written By: - Date published: 10:19 am, June 20th, 2012 - 60 comments
Categories: assets, election 2014, privatisation - Tags:

The Nats’ latest defence of asset sales is ‘if Labour doesn’t say they’ll buy them back,then they secretly agree with the sales’.

Well, we would all like Labour to be able to make that commitment but, in the real world, that would be irresponsible (as irresponsible as, say, locking yourself into asset sales in the middle of a global economic crisis). The incoming government is going to have to know how the bad a situation the Nats are leaving the books in, the regulatory changes it intends to make to electricity (some of which could gut the value of the companies) and the state of the economy.

As for the suggestion that if you don’t reverse a policy, then you must love it – well, Bill, just ask the owner of the railways, the airline, and a bank who also provides Working for Families and interest-free student loans … he’s the man in the mirror.

60 comments on “The art of the possible”

  1. Dr Terry 1

    The problem is that this was yet another very crafty move by the Nat’s, likely (unfortunately) to register with people who do not trouble to think.

  2. RedLogix 2

    The correct answer to this nonsense is for Shearer to say, “Are you daring us to say this?”.

    • Pascal's bookie 2.1

      “You can’t unshit a bed. Bill English wants you to think that if you can’t unshit a bed, you are in favour of shitting the bed. He’s desperate, and his policy stinks.”

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      No, the correct answer for Shearer is to say that they will be renationalised with no compensation.

  3. ad 3

    Could you just spell out what makes it irresponsible for Labour to make that promise?

    – They don’t have to be held to doing it in a single term
    – The policy would immediately depress the share value of the company, without interrupting the divident flow
    – It is of course completely consistent with Labour’s Constitution
    – It immediately aligns the Opposition and gives Labour clearer coalition options
    – It would probably quickly depress the NZ Dollar – not all bad
    – Could be done in part with the NZSuper 40% local investment requirement, EQC fund, and ACC fund, with a bit of legislative stick where required

    • Pete 3.1

      Could be done in part with the NZSuper 40% local investment requirement, EQC fund, and ACC fund

      I think those are some of the sources the Nats are hoping to buy 10% parcels of the assets anyway. In part the asset sales are a way of raiding the pots of public money the government can’t otherwise get their grubby mitts on.

      • ad 3.1.1

        Agreed.

        I guess my main motivation for keeping the assets within public ands entirely is that we are such a small country and without a reaonsbly strong state the entire idea of New Zealand as a country will start to dissolve. This dissolution would affect New Zealand in:
        – dividend capacity
        – emergency command-and-control capacity
        – equity to raise public loans
        – exposure to the insecurity of the sharemarket
        – ability to control other than through (our often weak) regulators, and
        – as major innovators who do indeed burn through cash for projects that would in otherwise commercial terms not bother with that degree of R&D.

        Prime Ministers Holyoake and Muldoon would have been fine with that nation-building and nation-security stuff. These current guys are just too commercial for me.

  4. tc 4

    I don’t see any problem with the opposition putting the stake in the ground on buying back what’s sold without compensation.

    Plenty of ‘get outs’ once they get in as the NACT have BS’d their way through nearly 4 years so lord knows the true state of our nation with the highly paid consultants keeping the treasury etc in line.

    How many broken promises has Key made, time to play them at their own game and put some real heat on the MP/UF jellybacks.

  5. Peter 5

    It’s not irresponsible, in fact, it’s more than a bit gutless not to make that statement publicly. Labour did it with ACC in 1999 before the election (a slightly different situation albeit).

    It’s precisely Labour’s lack of conviction on asset sales, and its capitulation to the market on this issue that is probably behind its lacklustre response.

    You simply have to say categorically:

    “We will renationalise these assets at the price of sale, minus costs”.

    People get their money back, but the sale price is instantly driven down to a point whereby the sale becomes untenable for National to continue with.

    The beauty of the policy is that it never has to be enacted.

    Peter

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      “The beauty of the policy is that it never has to be enacted.”

      And seriously makes international and domestic business scared of any Labour government that comes to power. Which, on balance, is actually not a good thing. It might also violate international trade agreements we’ve signed up to.

      • freedom 5.1.1

        “It might also violate international trade agreements we’ve signed up to.”

        Which is why trade agreements are generally not worth the forests that get cut down to write them. Countries lose their sovereign right to determine their future and Industry smiles all the way to the Banks that gave then the cash to do the deal. Banks, that let’s face it, are the ones who really want countries to lose their auto-determination.

        mmm didn’t David Rockefeller say words to that affect?

        “The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite
        and world bankers is surely preferable to the national
        auto-determination practiced in past centuries.”

      • Peter 5.1.2

        This cuts to the heart of what I’m getting at – why is Labour so afraid of doing something more than just tinkering with market mechanisms, of doing something more than just having a kinder hand on the throttle and tiller (even assuming that the mechanisms are still connected to the engine?)

        One thing I have noticed (since I left the NZLP after 10+ years of hard core involvement) and decided to start up my own business, is that tories don’t think like that. Aside from not wanting to piss off their elite support base too much, they seem to have retained their ability to lead without the same fear that seems to cripple Labour leaders. National governments will therefore, take massive steps to intervene in markets, as this one has, albeit interventions that result in large transfers of wealth to their elite.

        Instead Labour seems to be very good at coming up with excuses about why it can’t make similar hard decisions. It always seems to be afraid of something or someone else, generally unelected jumping in and rolling back the policy. It wasn’t always like this.

        I do wonder if the root of the problem is that Labour cannot confront the fact that it’s just as neoliberal as the rest of them, and it knows that neoliberal responses aren’t working. Or, Labour now knows, deep down, it is clinging to a model of the world that no longer makes much sense, and it won’t acknowledge it, out of fear that the new model will hand far too much over to the Greens?
        (I think there is a new political model of the world that is in keeping with the old Labour traditions that doesn’t hand it over to the Greens)

        Honestly, to hell with an international trade agreement if it prevents NZ from being in charge of its own energy resources. Without energy, there is no economy, and if Labour is silly enough to allow someone else to be in charge of that destiny, when it has a policy response at its disposal that might stop it then is it really any different to National?

        Above all, it’s the fact that Labour currently possesses a policy weapon that could stop it, and IT WONT use it, that pisses me off so much.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.3

        And seriously makes international and domestic business scared of any Labour government that comes to power. Which, on balance, is actually not a good thing.

        Actually, it is a Good Thing. People should not be afraid of their governments but businesses should be afraid of pissing off the people and thus having the government come down on them like tonne of bricks.

        It’s called sovereignty

  6. vto 6

    Could somebody ‘in the loop’ with labour please explain why they cannot carry out a buy-back? If it is signalled well in advance then it is fine. The market simply doesn’t like rules being changed partway through, so just make the rules clear at the start.

    So, why not?

    What are the reasons?

    • BLiP 6.1

      .

      There’s this little thing called TPP – see, once National Ltd™ flogs off our electricity supply, we can’t buy it back without paying waaaaaaay over the odds in compensation to the corporates for loss of potential profit. Its a rigged WIN/LOSE table in the South Pacific corner of the international money changers’ casino being run by the 1%.

      • Kotahi Tane Huna 6.1.1

        Repeal the offending sections of that odious incompetence too.

        • freedom 6.1.1.1

          +1
          Start at “The” on title page 1
          and continue deleting until you hit the end of last page of the appendixes

        • BLiP 6.1.1.2

          .

          Perhaps youse didn’t get the memo. Our government can’t just change the law . . .

          AN OPEN LETTER FROM LAWYERS TO THE NEGOTIATORS OF THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP URGING THE REJECTION OF INVESTOR-STATE DISPUTE SETTLEMENT

          8 May 2012

          As lawyers from the academy, bench and bar, legislature, public service, business and other legal communities in Asia and the Pacific Rim, we are writing to raise concerns about the Investment and Investor-State dispute arbitration provisions being considered in the on-going negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

          We have diverse views about the TPP generally. However, we are united in our view that the foreign investor protections included in some recent Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) and their enforcement through Investor-State arbitration should not be replicated in the TPP. We base this conclusion on concerns about how the expansion of this regime threatens to undermine the justice systems in our various countries and fundamentally shift the balance of power between investors, states and other affected parties in a manner that undermines fair resolution of legal disputes.

          We are encouraged to note that the Government of Australia has said it is unwilling to submit to Investor-State dispute settlement powers under a TPP and other future trade agreements, and urge the TPP negotiators to exclude the Investor-State system for all countries, not just Australia.

          As lawyers, we believe that all investors, regardless of nationality, should have access to an open and independent judicial system for the resolution of disputes, including disputes with government. We are strong supporters of the rule of law. It is in this context that we raise our concerns.

          The ostensible purpose for investor protections in international agreements and their Investor-State enforcement was to ensure that foreign investors in countries without well-functioning domestic court systems would have a means to obtain compensation if their real property, plant or equipment was expropriated by a government. However, the definition of “covered investments” extends well beyond real property to include speculative financial instruments, government permits, government procurement, intangible contract rights, intellectual property and market share, whether or not investments have been shown to contribute to the host economy.

          Simultaneously, the substantive rights granted by FTA investment chapters and BITs have also expanded significantly and awards issued by international arbitrators against states have often incorporated overly expansive interpretations of the new language in investment treaties. Some of these interpretations have prioritized the protection of the property and economic interests of transnational corporations over the right of states to regulate and the sovereign right of nations to govern their own affairs.

          Increasingly decisions issued under this system see foreign investors being granted greater rights than are provided to domestic firms and investors under the Constitutions, laws and court systems of host countries. In several instances, arbitral tribunals have gone beyond awards of cash damages and issued injunctive relief that creates severe conflicts of law. For instance, a recent order by a tribunal in the case brought by Chevron against Ecuador under a U.S.-Ecuador BIT ordered the executive branch of that country to violate its constitutional separation of powers and somehow halt the enforcement of an appellate court ruling.

          This is not a unique case. The scope of government actions that arbitral tribunals have previously considered they may subject to review for possible violations of investor rights includes a ruling on jurisdiction in the Loewen v. United States case under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in January 5, 2001 that ‘measures’ include the function of a domestic court and the standing rules of civil procedure. The arbitral tribunal concluded that a jury decision in private contract litigation constituted a government measure that was subject to NAFTA’s investor rules.

          Investors are also seeking to avoid the deliberate decision of governments to require investors to pursue remedies in the domestic courts of the host nation, at least initially, by invoking the most-favoured-nation rule. Subsidiaries of Philip Morris International are seeking to circumvent a requirement in the Uruguay-Switzerland BIT that they must attempt to litigate their objections to Uruguay’s new tobacco labelling laws through the domestic courts for eighteen months before pursuing international arbitration by invoking a provision from a BIT between Uruguay and a third country that does not have that requirement.

          Moreover, the design of the Investor-State system tribunals allows lawyers to rotate between roles as arbitrators and advocates for investors in a manner that would be unethical for judges. The system also excludes the right for non-investor litigants and other affected parties to participate and fails to meet the basic principles of transparency, consistency and due process common to our legal systems. Investment arbitration as currently constituted is not a fair, independent, and balanced method for the resolution of disputes between sovereign nations and private investors.

          It is of particular concern that, rather than being an option of last resort, the use of this regime is increasing exponentially. BITs with Investor-State enforcement have existed since the 1950s, but between 1972 and 2000 only about 50 disputes were resolved. Since 2000, under the World Bank’s international arbitration arm, the International Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), alone 173 cases have been resolved and an additional 128 filed.

          To put this in perspective, as recently as 1999 only 69 ICSID cases had been launched. Today, there are 370-plus such cases underway, an increase of 436% – and that is only the number of Investor-State cases at ICSID. Over $675 million has been paid out under U.S. FTAs and BITs alone, 70% percent of which pertained to challenges to governments’ natural resource and environmental policies, not to traditional expropriations. Tobacco companies have also used Investor-State dispute settlement to challenge government tobacco control policies enacted to implement obligations under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

          The current regime’s expansive definition of covered investments and government actions, the grant of expansive substantive investor rights that extend beyond domestic law, the increasing use of this mechanism to skirt domestic court systems and the structural problems inherent in the arbitral regime is corrosive of the rule of law and fairness.

          WE THEREFORE CALL UPON
          all governments engaged in the TPP negotiations to follow Australia’s example by rejecting the Investor-State dispute mechanism and reasserting the integrity of our domestic legal processes.

          http://tpplegal.wordpress.com/open-letter/

          Thanks National Ltd™ – I’m lovin’ it.

          • Kotahi Tane Huna 6.1.1.2.1

            “Perhaps youse didn’t get the memo. Our government can’t just change the law . . ”

            Is that so? I think they can in fact. They do it all the time. You think a trade agreement is sacred or protected in some way?

            • BLiP 6.1.1.2.1.1

              .

              As it happens, contracts entered into under the TPP are protected – have a read of the Open Letter and get back to me.

      • Hami Shearlie 6.1.2

        On Think Tank last weekend Professor Jane Kelsey stated that South Korea have a similar kind of TPP. And they are talking about renegotiating the deal and deleting the clauses that allow private companies to sue!! It’s pretty suspect when Tim Groser says he hasn’t even seen what has been written into the contract yet. Even more suspicious that the public won’t be able to know what the Nacts have signed NZ up to for four years!! Why, if it’s so good for NZ? Anyone know any more?

    • Te Reo Putake 6.2

      Labour’s current priority is to stop the sales, if it all possible. That’s the immediate focus. There was, however, considerable support at the recent round of regional meetings to immediately return the stolen goods to public ownership when we lead the next Government and I would be very surprised if that is not Labour’s position going into the next election. We may find Shearer saying aas much in the next few days anywaym as Winston seems to have put it firmly on the agenda.
       
      As I commented earlier, I will be pushing for any compensation to be at the lowest price (either at IPO or lower if the share price drops). And paid over a number of years, so the NZ people get a clear financial advantage out of the re-nationalisation process. Which was something we could not do with Kiwirail and Air NZ, unfortunately.

      • ad 6.2.1

        That’s the natural tactical position. But tactics isn’t enough.

        “In the next few days” is too late for a debate being covered high on the TV news every day right now. Labour have had plenty of time to firm up their policy position.

        To be actually in the hot legislative debate without sharp policy soundbites is to hand everyone else a political gift.

      • Peter 6.2.2

        This is good, yes, but why wait for Winston to put it on the agenda. It reeks of decisions by focus group, or the reactive decision-making that Ministers make in their final term in office.

        I’ve often thought that Labour’s issue in terms of leadership is that we/they (I don’t see myself as part of the party any more) select highly competent public servants to be MPs. In other words, kind, loyal, caring, and intelligent people, far better than the tories. But the flaw, the fatal flaw, is that most of them see themselves as administrators of the state, rather than leaders. There is a lack of belief in the power of ideas and agenda-setting – they wait for someone else to take the initiative, and then if there’s enough support, they implement it competently.

        Right now we need more than that. We need leadership. If Shearer came out tomorrow and announced such a policy, I reckon you’d see a 5 point jump in Labour’s polling. This is a message from the provinces too, well beyond the Beltway.

        Peter

      • Draco T Bastard 6.2.3

        Labour’s current priority is to stop the sales, if it all possible.

        BS, they could stop the sales by saying that they will be re-nationalised without compensation. They’re not doing that though.

    • Pete 6.3

      A thought occurs to me that a Labour government could set up a single wholesaler for electricity, creating a Monopsony. We already have a successful model for this in New Zealand with Pharmac. Competing power companies would have a greater incentive to undercut each other.

      • Peter 6.3.1

        We had this system once upon a time. It was called the Electricity Department, and then, the Electricity Corporation of NZ. It had a single price setting policy that applied, with regional differences, to all of New Zealand. You didn’t need at least six generators, umpteen lines companies, and some shell companies such as Powershop all with marketing and admin staff to support in order to set reasonable and fair pricing for power. I think it was done with a staff of less than 10.

        Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but in aiming for perfection, what we’ve created is something far worse – a disintegrated and fragmented electricity system with artificial separations forced by law. Electricity is a natural monopoly, we cannot get away from that, so rather than trying to bend nature, it’s easier to just place it under strong central and regional governance.

        And hey, we’ve recreated the local power board…

        • Draco T Bastard 6.3.1.1

          +1

          • Peter 6.3.1.1.1

            My policy is actually to extend the role of the power board to all aspects of local energy use, by calling them Energy Boards, and giving them oversight of regions or sub-regions.

    • Jackal 6.4

      I would like to see the next government undertake aggressive legislative change to undo some of the damage that National has caused over the last few years. I would also like to see a special department that works closely with the serious fraud office set up to investigate Nacts corrupt practices. There should be a number of prosecutions.

  7. Enough is Enough 7

    I have been saying it for weeks.

    Labour can kill this bill in its tracks by announcing this very policy. Who will invest in a copany that is guaranteed to be nationalised in 2 years time. Absolutley nobody.

    Labour grow some fucking balls. This silly referendum wont stop the Nats. A firm policy anouncement will stop people investing in them though.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Who will invest in a copany that is guaranteed to be nationalised in 2 years time. Absolutley nobody.

      Actually, just saying that it will be renationalised will result in everybody trying to buy it as it would effectively be a guaranteed super-profit for the buyers. To stop the sale it must renationalised without compensation – not even the purchase price returned.

  8. Kevin 8

    Labour’s buy back of NZ rail cost a fortune:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/456672/Rail-buy-back-cost-nears-1-5b
    Anything is possible if you are willing to pay a premium and spend more than you earned in the first place.
    In other words buy backs are ridiculously expensive and bad economics.

    • ad 8.1

      That depends on the kind of signals you send to the market beforehand.

      Labour’s sale of NZRail in the first place told the market that they would pay over the odds. And I agree with you they did.

      But sending a signal that they would buy them back over time, and regulate the ass off them, and define New Zealand ownership of those shares, immediately discounts the price. In fact it would freak prospective buyers right out, unless they were New Zealand domiciled.

      Winston and the Grens are already making market signals on this already – if Labour did the same, any prospective investor knows they are taking an almightly gamble on the next election that National will get back in.

      But without that signal from Labour, forming a united Oppostion position, the market can’t see that risk so starkly.

      Pretty chilling looking at today’s Balance of Payments foreign ownership cash going out the window.

  9. Wayne 9

    Clearly Labour will not make such a promise. They surely will have more important things to do when they are in Govt, rather than spend money trying to undo the past – and for what purpose. New govts try and look forward, not back. Mr Shearer seems much more interested in spending scarce govt money on promoting innovation, which he can argue is intended to increase growth and opportunity. How would simply changing shareholders from private owners to the state do this?

    I am amused by the view that Labour could nationalise without compensation. You must have missed the last 70 years of Labour in govt and opposition. Much less the damage it would do to New Zealands reputation of having responsible govt. But in truth I am sure you know that.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      How would simply changing shareholders from private owners to the state do this?

      Interestingly enough, by allowing NZ to have enough resources to do the R&D (not that growth is sustainable of course but R&D is still needed).

      You must have missed the last 70 years of Labour in govt and opposition.

      Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean that it can’t happen in the future and in NZ, parliament is supreme.

      Much less the damage it would do to New Zealand’s reputation of having responsible govt.

      Personally, I don’t really care about how the banksters rate NZ.

    • Jackal 9.2

      Wayne

      They surely will have more important things to do when they are in Govt, rather than spend money trying to undo the past – and for what purpose. New govts try and look forward, not back.

      We’re talking about crucial infrastructure Wayne, which has to continue to function now and in the future.

      The problem is that the short term profit motive means that not enough will be reinvested and there could even be some asset stripping. That’s what happened with the rail which Labour had to purchase back, otherwise the network would be next to useless by now.

      Today, the National led government voted against amendments to the Mixed Ownership Model Bill that would have prevented asset stripping… I wonder why?

      • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1

        Today, the National led government voted against amendments to the Mixed Ownership Model Bill that would have prevented asset stripping… I wonder why?

        Because they know damn well that it’s going to happen as it’s an easy way for the new private owners to realise a profit and after it’s been done the government will have to then put in massive investment which will allow the private sector even more profits. Exactly as what happened with both rail and Telecom.

  10. captain hook 10

    National has never said why they want to sell them in the first place.
    It looks increasingly like its just a payoff to their pals in the sharemarket and those that can afford to buy and stag the shares.
    This government just gets crummier and crummier.

    • BLiP 10.1

      .

      Nope. It was crummy way back when John Key was being groomed to manage this and the other transactions coming down the pipeline.

  11. ianmac 11

    Bill English spent his full time after Question Time today, mocking Labour by challenging them to declare that they would buy back the sold shares. Bill doesn’t do funny very well. Just sounds sneering.

  12. BillODrees 12

    #JamesHenderson 
    There is nothing irresponsible about warning prospective investors that a forced buy-back capped at purchase price is a possible/likely occurrence.
    Your approach, and that of the Labour leadership, is weak and unnecessary. Where are their cojones?  This is not  strong leadership. 
     – 

  13. PunditX 13

    NZ First just issue the following press release:
    NZ FIRST COMMITTED TO BUYING BACK STATE-OWNED ASSETS

    New Zealand First will use its influence on the next coalition Government to buy back our state-owned power companies which are being flogged off by National.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters says New Zealand First is committed to buying back the shares at no greater price than paid by the first purchaser.

    “State-owned assets rightfully belong to all New Zealanders but National is intent on handing them over to rich foreign investors.

    “It is simply lining the pockets of the wealthy by selling off well-performing assets that already provide the Government with extremely healthy dividends.”

    Mr Peters says it is only fair to alert potential investors that New Zealand First’s intention to buy back the shares will be part of any coalition negotiations.

    “As things stand now, the assets will end up in foreign ownership which is an outright attack on our sovereignty. We are committed to repelling that attack.”

  14. Populuxe1 14

    Well, we would all like Labour to be able to make that commitment but, in the real world, that would be irresponsible (as irresponsible as, say, locking yourself into asset sales in the middle of a global economic crisis). The incoming government is going to have to know how the bad a situation the Nats are leaving the books in, the regulatory changes it intends to make to electricity (some of which could gut the value of the companies) and the state of the economy.

    This makes absolutely no logical sense. How exactly would it be “irresponsible” in the “real world” for Labour to show some chutzpah and come out against what is a vastly unpopular policy. It can only win them votes. If Labour at the very least protests asset sales, that will only either further encourage National to halt its plans, or it will get voted in in 2014. Best case scenario they can categorically state that assets will be renationalised with a small symbolic compensation. Labour’s job is to prevent the situation getting bad in the first place, or doing it’s best to reverse the damage.  Otherwise Labour are just cowards, plain and simple.
     

  15. tracey 15

    Nationals backers wld love if labour bought them back. Imagine how much they will have miraculously escalated in value in two years yielding a splendidly high and quick profit to those who bought.

    • felix 15.1

      Oh no tracey, you misunderstand. The proposal is to buy them at the initial sale price or less, minus costs.

      (Which I think is far too kind btw)

  16. Fortran 16

    The Greens and the Winston Party have said they will renationalise these companies sold.
    The Greens will then try and shut them down totally as against their religion.

    It seems to be overlooked again that the Government – whoever they are, have 51% of the shares which says that the 49% have NO CONTROL over them whatsoever.

    • Te Reo Putake 16.1

      No, that hasn’t been overlooked, doofus. It’s been ignored because its not true. Minority shareholders have rights and influence. You need to learn a bit about how shares, shareholders and boards work before you comment again, because you are embarrassing yourself.

      • ad 16.1.1

        It goes faster and deeper than that too.

        Even at 100% ownership, Auckland Council didn’t act hard and fast on the Ports of Auckland dispute. But at least there were citizens to shout at them loud and hard.

        Soon as there’s more than one shareholder to consult with, the Executive can divide and rule as well. Witness how nothing ever got done with Watercare other than Business As Usual when there were 6 Local Councils holding all the shares.

        Granted public entities can have more emotional shareholders than most.

        Lose just 5%, and you have to hold a Shareholder meeting to really adjust the course of things. Public don’t have to be invited as it is now a private company. Actual accountability drastically weakens.

        For entities the scale of Genesis, altering the corporate direction becomes much more cumbersome. Management keeps going on their course, pays more attention to regulators to adjust prices than pay attention to their owners, and otherwise can put their feet on the desk. Almost.

        Losing 100% ownership to anything lower is a massive governance and accountability loss. It’s a private company, with a public holding.

  17. JonL 17

    Labour give the appearance of a bunch of gutless fools who think that by saying nothing they won’t offend too many people, when, in reality, they offend everyone. If they don’t make up their minds pretty damn quick, and state exactly where they stand in the NZ scenario, they will continue to bleed supporters.
    That’s assuming they haven’t already stated where they stand, as “Key Lite”, in more and more peoples minds!
    My mates, relations and I have long gone, and, on Labour’s current performance (apart from a few glimmers of suppressed light) won’t be coming back any time soon!

    • ad 17.1

      Is it cynical to point out that the polls seem to have been tracking pretty well for Labour’s direction since November 2011?

      • john 17.1.1

        You are assuming that it must be because Labour is doing something right. It’s probably more likely because people are turning against national, rather than any changes than Labour has made to its policies.

        • Colonial Viper 17.1.1.1

          Voting for the least bad of the big two is not qhat I call motivational.

  18. Tim 18

    Reading this blog you have to conclude that no ‘Govt’ has done a worthy job of running our public assets….and MMP has now made the outcomes even worse for the long suffering ‘public’…..thank goodness for Muldoon and his (think) BIG call on building the infrastructure he did put in place…because without it we would be truely a bunch of low speed pacific islanders….SO Cullen’s purchase of TransRail justifies the fact that NO politician should be in charge of spending (wasting) our hard earned tax dollars. Look at the numbers in that SoE now and the cold hard cash being tipped down that black hole!! And the same politically driven agenda for when AirNZ needs more cash as well as KiwiBank and NZPost. NZ WAKE up!! We have tax revenues topping out at $54B per annum and expenditure at $70B. Public DEBT will top out at close to $70B this cycle. Unless we manage ourselves a lot smarter then we will be facing the abys that Europe is now……I don’t fancy we will; and we have a European ‘system’ that will continually deliver 120 dickheads every 3 years into Wellington ….I need to go for a walk…..

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    Tena Koutou Katoa Can I begin by acknowledging: Sir Doug Kidd, President, NZ Institute of International Affairs Maty Nikkhou-O’Brien, Executive Director, who did all the organising for today’s event. Labour’s foreign affairs spokesperson David Shearer. Victoria University of Wellington law ...
    16 hours ago
  • Inquiry into surgical mesh needed now
    The Government must urgently launch a Ministerial inquiry into surgical mesh after more than 500 patients have lodged claims of complications with the ACC, say Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “This is the most widespread crisis involving surgical devices in ...
    16 hours ago
  • Crime on the increase yet again
    Police Minister Judith Collins’ contention that crime is falling has proven to be wrong yet again, with latest Police statistics showing an increase in most crimes, Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash says. “Figures for June 2016 show an increase in ...
    1 day ago
  • Major reform of careers and apprenticeships to meet Future of Work
    The next Labour Government will transform careers advice in high schools to ensure every student has a personalised career plan, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Today I am announcing the next Labour Government will commit to a major ...
    2 days ago
  • DOC struggles on the pest front undermine Nats’ predator-free promise
    The Government’s planned predator-free initiative comes at the same time as the Department of Conservation is facing major challenges to keep pest numbers down, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.  “DOC’s annual report shows it failed on 5 out of ...
    2 days ago
  • QUESTIONS FOR (ORAL) ANSWER- TUESDAY 26TH OF JULY
    While Parliament might be in recess, there are still plenty of things that Ministers need to answer for. So the Labour team has put together six of the best questions that the Government should be answering today (plus a special ...
    2 days ago
  • Unfunded CYF a ticking time bomb
    The Ministry of Social Development is sitting on a ticking time bomb with Child, Youth and Family out of pocket by $56 million despite increased demand for its services, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “The new entity that’s replacing ...
    2 days ago
  • Lack of any real funding in predator free proposal
    Predator Free New Zealand is a laudable idea but the Government has not committed any real money into killing New Zealand’s pests, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.  “The $28 million earmarked for this project is just to set up ...
    2 days ago
  • Andrew Little Speech to LGNZ Conference
    Thank you for having me here today. Local Government New Zealand’s work of advocating for New Zealand’s 78 local councils is critical as we upgrade New Zealand’s economy, and make sure it’s delivering for all our people. Whether in Auckland, ...
    2 days ago
  • John Key must sack out-of-depth Trade Minister
    The Prime Minister must sack Todd McClay for failing to do his job as Trade Minister and be on top of a significant potential threat to some of our biggest exporters, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Todd McClay is clearly ...
    2 days ago
  • 45,000 Kiwis sent back to their GPs
    Last year nearly 45,000 Kiwis were sent back to their GPs without getting to see specialists they were referred to, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King. “This is a shocking figure and underlines how far the cut of $1.7 billion ...
    3 days ago
  • Half a million smells like pure cronyism
    The National/ACT Government’s decision to pump hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars into a new lobby group to advocate for charter schools shows just how much of a failure their ideological experiment has become, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. ...
    3 days ago
  • Select committee changes Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary Bill
    Photo by Tom Hitchon Parliament’s Local Government and Environment Committee has made many changes to the Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary Bill in response to public submissions, particularly submissions from iwi authorities and Te Ohu Kaimoana.   Read the amended Bill and the ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    4 days ago
  • Housing map a hit as crisis spreads across NZ
    More than 55,000 New Zealanders have used Labour’s interactive housing map in its first week to see how the housing crisis is affecting their local community, Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Our innovative map shows the housing crisis is ...
    6 days ago
  • Bridges must come clean about fraud within transport
    Hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money have gone missing and  the Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges must come clean after the Labour party revealed that a senior manager is being investigated for serious fraud, says Labour’s Transport Spokesperson ...
    6 days ago
  • Labour supports Spencer victory
    Labour congratulates Margaret Spencer for her tireless efforts in challenging the Government over family carer rights, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Annette King. ...
    6 days ago
  • US Warship visit welcomed by Labour
    Labour sees the United States warship visit as a red letter day for New Zealand’s non-nuclear status, which is core to our identity and has defined us a nation for 30 years, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Annette King. ...
    6 days ago
  • Time for honest dairy sector conversation
    ...
    6 days ago
  • What next? Dog kennels?
    Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett needs to explain why the Government thinks it is acceptable for it to refer families to live in garages and sheds, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This is a new low, just when you ...
    6 days ago
  • Banks bust a move, Government possum in the headlights
    Three of the big four banks have acted responsibly by bringing the shutters down on property speculators earlier than required by the Reserve Bank, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “It’s a shame the Government isn’t as motivated to act ...
    7 days ago
  • Latest OECD dairy forecast raises serious questions for economy
    The latest global dairy price forecast shows that New Zealand dairy farmers will not reach a break-even payout before 2019 at the earliest, and will not reach the dairy price factored into this year’s Budget until after 2025, Labour’s Finance spokesperson ...
    7 days ago
  • National’s reckless, out of touch approach to economy exposed
    Today’s economic assessment from the Reserve Bank highlights the danger to the New Zealand economy from a National government that is recklessly complacent in the face of a housing crisis and a struggling export sector, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. ...
    7 days ago
  • GP’s visits get more expensive
      Visiting the GP is set to become more expensive after the Government ignored warnings that people were not receiving access to affordable  healthcare, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Over 400,000 New Zealanders who should be able to access ...
    1 week ago
  • Farm prices bear brunt of dairy downturn
    The slump in dairy prices that has seen farm prices drop to their lowest level since 2012 and down a third from their peak in 2014 will be of concern to farmers, banks and our overall financial stability, Labour’s Finance ...
    1 week ago
  • Reserve Bank “gets on with it”, National carries on in denial
    The proposal by the Reserve Bank to tighten loan to value ratios for investors shows they are prepared to do their bit to crack down on speculators, while National is still stuck in denial mode, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. ...
    1 week ago
  • Housing crisis holds up interest rate cuts
    The housing crisis that National still wants to deny is stifling the New Zealand economy, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The latest Consumers Price Index shows that all prices excluding housing and household utilities decreased 0.5 per cent – ...
    1 week ago
  • Housing crisis holds up interest rate cuts
    The housing crisis that National still wants to deny is stifling the New Zealand economy, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The latest Consumers Price Index shows that all prices excluding housing and household utilities decreased 0.5 per cent – ...
    1 week ago
  • Govt’s state house sell-off ramping up
    Government plans to ramp up the state house sell-off by selling another 1000 houses in 2016/17 will mean more families in need missing out, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “New figures show the Government plans to sell 1000 ...
    1 week ago
  • Govt’s state house sell-off ramping up
    Government plans to ramp up the state house sell-off by selling another 1000 houses in 2016/17 will mean more families in need missing out, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “New figures show the Government plans to sell 1000 ...
    1 week ago
  • National must reassure exporters on dumping case
        The National Government needs to show our key exporters that they are in control of any anti-dumping case against China before it damages some of our most important industries, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.     ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must reassure exporters on dumping case
        The National Government needs to show our key exporters that they are in control of any anti-dumping case against China before it damages some of our most important industries, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.     ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Papers describe litany of incredulity
    Treasury documents which slate the Government’s plans for a national bowel screening programme confirm the proposal was nothing more than a political stunt to cover up underfunding of the health sector, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette Kings says.  The papers were ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Effect of rampant house prices widens
    The latest house price figures from REINZ show the housing crisis expanding throughout the country, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “We are seeing steep increases in median house prices in Central Otago Lakes – up 42.4% in the last ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Public invited to have say on homelessness
    People who are homeless, those who were once homeless, those working with the homeless and concerned New Zealanders are being asked to share their experiences and solutions to this growing issue with the Cross-Party Homelessness Inquiry. This inquiry was launched ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    An apology from Hekia Parata to the people of Christchurch is long overdue, Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. "As if the earthquakes weren't traumatic enough, Hekia Parata and the Ministry of Education then attacked the one thing that had ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing crisis affecting more than 98 per cent of NZ
    Labour’s new housing map shows the housing crisis is now affecting more than 98 per cent of New Zealand, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Housing pressures have seen house prices rise faster than wages in all but four ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Uber might not be a taxi firm but it must pay tax
    Uber needs to explain how it paid only $9000 in tax when it earned $1m in revenue and is one of the fastest growing companies in the country, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Uber New Zealand appears to be ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tax changes should have been made 3 years ago
    National could have avoided the international stain on our reputation from the Panama Papers if it had let IRD’s planned review of foreign trusts go ahead three years ago, instead of now belatedly acting because of the Shewan recommendations, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must stop state house sell-off
    The Government must immediately pull the plug on its planned sell-off of state houses in order to stop the housing crisis getting any worse, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “While Paula Bennett is putting people into transit camps in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Thoughts on Labour’s new housing policies
    The Labour Party launched its package of ideas to fix the housing crisis over the weekend. Their ideas match ours in many ways. This is good news, because it means that when we change the government we’ll be ready to ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Thoughts on Labour’s new housing policies
    The Labour Party launched its package of ideas to fix the housing crisis over the weekend. Their ideas match ours in many ways. This is good news, because it means that when we change the government we’ll be ready to ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Thoughts on Labour’s new housing policies
    The Labour Party launched its package of ideas to fix the housing crisis over the weekend. Their ideas match ours in many ways. This is good news, because it means that when we change the government we’ll be ready to ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing crisis drives household debt to record levels
    The Finance Minister must be woken from his slumber by Westpac’s report today that says house prices have largely driven household debt to record levels and are rising at a pace faster than other developed economies, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson ...
    2 weeks ago
  • English denies dividend decision made – Joyce should delete his account
    National must explain who is right in the Housing NZ dividend debacle, after Bill English said no decision had been made on a payment for the next two years, in direct contrast to Steven Joyce, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Pressure forces Govt to make policy on the hoof
    Steven Joyce’s surprise announcement that Housing NZ will no longer be used as a cash cow has forced the Finance Minister to make one of National’s biggest ever U-turns, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “After years of insisting the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 10-fold more affordable houses under Labour
    New data showing homeownership rates continue to fall and more Kiwis than ever rent, highlights why Labour’s plan to build 10 times more affordable housing in Auckland is so desperately needed, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Labour’s Affordable Housing ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Out of excuses, Brownlee resorts to scare tactics
    Gerry Brownlee’s ridiculous suggestion that Labour would nationalise Christchurch’s east frame shows National has resorted to scare tactics to hide its failure to build desperately needed affordable houses in our city, Labour's Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods says. “Plans put in ...
    2 weeks ago

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