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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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    Imperator Fish | 24-04
  • Fatah and Hamas – a marriage made in peace hell
    Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas want to have another go at marriage.They can’t promise anything, but are willing to have a try in order to reinstate the dwindling legitimacy they are both suffering from their respective enclaves....
    Pundit | 24-04
  • Know your Tory fellow travellers and ideologues: John Bishop, Taxpayers Uni...
    . . On 19 March, I reported on the Board members of the so-called “Taxpayers Union”. With one exception, every single member of the Taxpayers Union Board was a current (or recent) card-carrying member or supporter of the National and/or...
    Frankly Speaking | 24-04
  • Three Songs For ANZAC Day
     Eric Bogle:  And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda  Eric Bogle: No Man's Land (The Green Fields Of France)  Redgum: I Was Only Nineteen They tell us that at Gallipoli New Zealand came of age as a nation. Well, if that's true, why is...
    Bowalley Road | 24-04
  • Labels for climate data
    “These results are quite strange”, my colleague told me. He analysed some of the recent climate model results from an experiment known by the cryptic name ‘CMIP5‘. It turned out that the results were ok, but we had made an...
    Real Climate | 24-04
  • Solemn Falsehoods: ANZAC Day, 2014
    Worthy Sons? Every ANZAC Day we tell ourselves that the blood sacrifice of Gallipoli marked the birth of New Zealand nationhood. But as the above poster attests, it was not our independence that George, the King Emperor, acknowledged but our...
    Bowalley Road | 24-04
  • Murray Horton Speaking Tour : Who’s Running The Show?
    Press Release – Campaign Against Foreign Control Of Aotearoa MURRAY HORTON SPEAKING TOUR May 4 – 29 Whos Running The Show? And In Whose Interests? Murray Horton is the long serving Organiser and spokesperson for two Christchurch-based groups, the Campaign...
    Its our future | 24-04
  • US President Obama and Prime Minister Abe of Japan – Presser
    Press Release – The White House PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) On behalf of the Japanese people, I would like to express my heartfelt welcome to President Barack Obama, who is in Japan as our state guest. Barack and I...
    Its our future | 24-04
  • Shane Jones’ new job raises Ministerial interference questions
    The Public Service Association says the announcement that Labour MP Shane Jones is to move to a new ‘ambassador-level’ role...
    PSA | 24-04
  • Evidence lacking for Northland council amalgamation
    The Public Service Association has told a Local Government Commission hearing in Kaikohe that there is a lack of evidence supporting...
    PSA | 24-04
  • World News Brief, Thursday April 24
    Top of the AgendaObama Navigates Asia-Pacific Security Challenges...
    Pundit | 24-04
  • This is treason, sirs!
    A guest post by Captain Horace Cockwood, RN, on the problems besetting the Labour Party...
    Imperator Fish | 24-04
  • The Beatification of St Jonesy
    This has been even stupider than I thought it would be. The majority of the media commentary regarding Jones has been – as Malcolm Tucker would put it – borderline homoerotic. Morning Report featured Damien O’Connor, Clayton Cosgrove, John Tamihere, Chris...
    DimPost | 24-04
  • Photo of the day – ANZAC
    I don’t know if they’ve done it again this year but this from 2012 was one of my favourite things to happen in Takutai Square Photo are credited to oh.yes.melbourne...
    Transport Blog | 24-04
  • How to become a climate change denier (in 4 easy steps)
    Cartoon drawn by Joshua Cakeburger Drummond as a contribution to the High Water Project, and rooted in bitter experience, I suspect…...
    Hot Topic | 24-04
  • TV3′s The Nation: Antarctica and public understanding of climate change
    A few days have passed since Lisa Owen’s interview with Antarctic scientists Chuck Kennicutt of the US and Gary Wilson of New Zealand on TV3’s The Nation but I hope it’s still worth drawing attention to. Programmes like The Nation...
    Hot Topic | 24-04
  • Shane Gones
    So, Shane Jones is quitting politics.  The reasons given, according to Polity, are because he wants the Labour Party to embrace a wide range of opinions, and that that too many people have opinions he doesn't agree with, like forming...
    Left hand palm | 24-04
  • Australia welches on open government
    Last year, Australia announced that it was joining the Open Government Partnership. But now that Tony Abbott is in charge, they're backing out:THE Abbott government is reconsidering Labor’s pledge to sign Australia up for a major international transparency and citizen...
    No Right Turn | 24-04
  • A counterproductive waste of money
    That's the quick assessment of Britain's participation in the "war on terror":Britain's military operations since the end of the cold war have cost £34.7bn and a further £30bn may have to be spent on long-term veteran care, according to an...
    No Right Turn | 24-04
  • Shane Jones Nationalised
    Shane Jones is on Radio Live as I type this, explaining that he quit politics because he just couldn't be arsed etc.  "No reservoir of energy to..." as he put it.  Ridiculous.  Retirement at 54.  A career beginning and ending...
    Tumeke | 24-04
  • The ICJ orders Australia to stop interfering with witnesses
    Last year, in what was clearly the actions of a guilty government, the Australian government detained a former ASIS agent who was going to testify against them over their bugging of the government of East Timor, raiding his house and...
    No Right Turn | 24-04
  • Here’s what a real bloke sounds like
    Kelvin Davis3 hrs ·...
    Pundit | 24-04
  • So long Shane, thanks for all the ‘fush’
    So Shane Jones is off. Retired from politics he says. Couldn’t give 100 percent to the cause so he did what he thought was best for the Party.Shane Jones has always been a polarising figure and never more so when...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 24-04
  • The benefits of transparency
    Ministerial expenses were released today, and as usual, I spent an hour trawling through the credit card statements hoping to find evidence of Ministers rorting us. So what did I find? Nothing. No $1,000 a night luxury hotel rooms. No...
    No Right Turn | 24-04
  • Christchurch to use Auckland’s old trains?
    As the new electric trains roll out over the coming year or so, a question we don’t know the answer to is what will happen to the old diesel trains Auckland no longer needs. Of course we will need to...
    Transport Blog | 24-04
  • Access: Defective, deficient, deviant and delinquent
    As many NZ babies do, I developed eczema and asthma. My mother took me to various clinicians. I have vague impressions of kindly doctors with strange accents. In retrospect they were probably part of the Jewish diaspora - educated at...
    Public Address | 23-04
  • An FPP politician in an MMP world
    So, now that Shane Jones has gone, he's come clean about the reason: he didn't want to work alongside Russel Norman and the Greens. Which I think emphasises just how much of a throwback Jones was, and how unsuited he...
    No Right Turn | 23-04
  • Hard News: Friday Music: News from talented women
    As I may have noted once or twice, Janine and the Mixtape's Dark Mind EP is one of last year's overlooked local gems. Or perhaps not-so-overlooked now, given that her new video for 'Hold Me' was premiered this week on...
    Public Address | 23-04
  • Focus on housing costs, raise wages not interest rates
    "The increase in the Reserve Bank's interest rate, while expected, shows little imagination and will raise mortgage costs for home owners," says CTU economist Bill Rosenberg. “The focus should be on getting housing costs down, and raising wages to make...
    CTU | 23-04
  • One year on: progress made to prevent another Rana Plaza tragedy
    Date of Release: Thursday, April 24, 2014Body:  An official from one of the two global union bodies that negotiated the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, currently visiting New Zealand, says that the Accord continues to make big steps forward to ensure...
    First Union Media | 23-04
  • Update from Dr.Gevil
    We wanted to share with you a little fun....
    Gareth’s World | 23-04
  • Matauri Bay: There are certain stories that get under your skin
    There are certain stories that get under your skin, stories that no matter how many times you hear them somehow strike you in a way that you never forget, stories that become a very part of you. The story of...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 23-04
  • Anit-fluoridation advertising deceptive
     Looks like the scientific fight-back against the misinformation coming from anti-fluoridation groups is having some success. This press release from the on-line Making Sense of Fluoride group. Anti Fluoridation Advertisements Rejected by The Advertising Complaints Authority Over the past week,...
    Open Parachute | 23-04
  • The Art of Letting Go
    via Porcupine Farm   While the big news with regard to the rebuild has been the scaling back of the Arts Precinct, this is just one part of a wider narrative that sees the grand plan unravelling. Since I wrote...
    Rebuilding Christchurch | 23-04
  • Joyce tells Otago to ship in more students
    Tertiary Update Vol 17 No 11 Tertiary education minister Steven Joyce is using threatened changes to university councils to bully the University of Otago to take more international students, says TEU national secretary Sharn...
    TEU | 23-04
  • New money for Māori innovation won’t cover cuts to Māori research
    Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Māori centre of research excellence is welcoming the  government’s decision to invest up to $2.5 million a year over the next two years in Māori-led science and...
    TEU | 23-04
  • UCOL staff given holiday but not pay rise
    UCOL staff got two extra days’ holiday they did not bargain for this week between Easter and Anzac Day, but what they really want is a pay rise. The polytechnic’s chief executive Paul McIlroy said...
    TEU | 23-04
  • Workers Memorial Day 2014
    Please be advised that there are three events planned to commemorate Workers Memorial Day (28 April) in Wellington. The media are invited to attend all three events.What When Photo:  ...
    CTU | 23-04
  • Shane Jones speaks out
    On 3news last night, Shane Jones gave a staged interview where he got some things off his chest. Not exactly a graceful exit, but there you go. Two of the things he said were especially interesting to me. Shane said:...
    Polity | 23-04
  • No Economic Rationale for $760m Warkworth Toll Road
    This is the fifth in a series of posts based on the Campaign for Better Transport’s submission to the Puhoi to Warkworth Board of Inquiry. The full presentation is over at bettertransport.org.nz In this post we look at the economic...
    Transport Blog | 23-04
  • iPredict Ltd 2014 Election Update #15
    Column – iPredict iPredicts 7000 registered traders continue to believe Winston Peters NZ First party will hold the balance of power after the election and allow National to govern. There has been a small gain to Act and the Conservatives...
    Its our future | 23-04
  • Photo of the day – Vulcan Lane
    Vulcan Lane alive with people Photo is credited to oh.yes.melbourne...
    Transport Blog | 23-04
  • Have your say on what Internet rights should look like
    Today I launched my Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill – NZ’s first ever bill crowdsourced by a political party. The launch happened live on Reddit, and I was joined in my office Joy Liddicoat (former Human Rights Commissioner and present...
    frogblog | 23-04
  • Michael Porter on Social Progress
    via CNN, Fareed Zakaria has a fascinating interview with Harvard's Michael Porter, architect of the Social Progress Index that was launched to great fanfare a little while back. New Zealand won the top rank in that index, and Porter's main...
    Polity | 23-04
  • Time running out to save uni councils
    There’s only a week left to have your say on the Government’s changes to university and wānanga councils. Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce has put forward dramatic changes to the way uni and wānanga councils are made up – removing...
    frogblog | 23-04
  • Another reason why we need an enforceable BORA
    Back in 2003, the then-Labour government, faced with the "threat" of an unpopular child-sex offender being released from prison at the end of their sentance, enacted the Parole (Extended Supervision) and Sentencing Amendment Act, allowing them to be detained for...
    No Right Turn | 23-04
  • Attack of the Return of the Revenge of the Night of Boris Johnson