At the Finance Select Committee today, Maggie Barry told a submitter “You are not here to ask us questions, you are here to answer our questions.” The submitter’s question was reasonable; could National members guarantee once foreign owners had an interest that the companies could not be sued under the unknown State investor disputes provisions of the secret Trans-Pacific partnership agreement. But it was addressed to closed minds.
The Government has given more explanations than fleas on a dog for this legislation. None of them stack up. The National Party noddies on the committee trotted them all out. Paul Goldsmith had a nyah-nyah response to one submitter who claimed the reasons behind the bill were ideological arguing that the claim was also ideological; John Hayes defended concerns about the risks posed by State Investor Disputes procedures under the Trans-Pacific partnership by asking for comparisons with the CER with Australia.
This privatisation is not like those in 1987-1993 – yeah right. Todd McLay wanted to ask a telephone submitter about Air New Zealand, as though that case proved that mixed ownership was ok. The lesson from Air New Zealand was that the Government had to buy it back for reasons of national interest, not that it is a good model of privatisation. None of the submitters believed that partial privatisation was the end of the process.We don’t want to have to buy back our electricity generation after it has been run down.
The only submission in favour of the Bill (sort of) came from Maori groups with a declared interest in buying assets with a good dividend stream. As one of them said “There is a lot of Maori settlement cash sitting around looking for a home”. However even this submitter opposed the Bill in its current form because it doesn’t offer any protection to such investors.
Todd McLay who chairs the committee referred to a number of the submissions as “emotional”. He was right. It was anger, and it won’t go away. One submitter calling in from Kaitaia told how 500 people had marched down the main street of Kaitaia that day at the start of the hikoi opposing the Bill. One hopes the promised Labour/Greens/Greypower/CTU campaign gets under way soon as well – now would be a good time.