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Ask no questions

Written By: - Date published: 5:59 pm, April 24th, 2012 - 44 comments
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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.




44 comments on “Ask no questions”

  1. fustercluck 1

    I look forward to my tax dollars being spent to buy these assets back and recapitalize the infrastructure after they have been run into the ground by profit-driven private ownership.

    Go Nats!

    • McFlock 1.1

      I’m not.
      I’m looking forward to only one tax dollar being spent as a nominal sum for the forced renationalisation. 

      • vto 1.1.1


        Private enterprise has absolutely no qualms utilising all means at its disposal to achieve its ends. So when it comes to the state dealing with private enterprise there should similarly be no qualms whatsoever is utilising all means at its disposal to achieve its ends. i.e. legislate nationalisation of these power companies when they fail. And trust me, they will fail.

        (Following quakes and previous power blackouts, few if any, people in Chch trust electricity to keep them warm. Lotsa burning this winter…)

        It is a risk known well to private enterprise that governments may well intervene in myriad ways when it comes to sensitive and political issues and resources e.g. water, land, power, rail, roading, etc.

        Private enterprise knows this so why hesitate to deal to them?

      • fustercluck 1.1.2

        I like your plan better.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.3

        I’m looking forward to only one tax dollar being spent as a nominal sum for the forced renationalisation.

        Not even a morning tea for the million dollar fee investment banking consultants???

        Oh look, Argentina just nationalised oil assets belonging to a foreign (Spanish) corporate.


        “We are the only country in Latin America, and I would say in practically the entire world, that doesn’t manage its own natural resources,” Ms Kirchner said.

        She said her proposal “is not a model of statism” but “the recovery of sovereignty”.

        I guess someone should tell her about John Key and NZ.

        • prism

          Do you think there is, or could there be, a parallel with NZ’s direction and Chile’s predicament when they were trying to nationalise stuff and the USA backed a rightist government that shot the elected President Allende with awful consequences.

        • alwyn

          Are you seriously suggesting that a future Labour government in New Zealand would follow the example of the current government in Argentina?
          If so I recommend that everyone pull out as fast as possible from their Kiwisaver accounts. The Argentine government of Christina Fernandez, in 2008, nationalised all private pension funds. Since then they have blown all the money that people had put into those funds as provision for their retirement.
          You appear, since you are approving of the Argentinian actions, to be suggesting that a Labour government should do something similar here.

  2. Carol 2

    The Jonkey era of government in NZ is one of where the right have increasingly perfected the (non)consultation process, whereby they thumb their noses at democratic process.

    They decide on what they want to do and either
    don’t ask for public or any other submissions (Auckland “supershitty”; abuse of Parliamentary urgency) or

    They go through the motions of consultation without ever intending to do anything other than what they originally decided.

    Shame on them for turning their backs on hard won democratic processes and rights.


    In 1910, democracy was still fully to be established even in this core – there were limits in several places on universal male suffrage, and female suffrage still had to be fought for (with New Zealand and Australia pioneers in this regard). The struggle for democracy was intertwined with social campaigns by labour, women and (in India) for national independence. What is now taken for granted is a hard-won and historically recent achievement.

    Moreover, the inter-war period saw grave setbacks for democracy, as Europe succumbed to fascist and Stalinist totalitarianism: only the Allied victory in the second world war “normalised” it once more in its northern heartlands. But the cold-war’s entrenchment in the late 1940s and 1950s made democratic outcomes the exception.</blockquote.

    But maybe we shouldn't be surprised:

    The longer historical sweep of democracy’s evolution and setbacks also reveals that the modern experience of revolution has so often oscillated between democracy and dictatorship. France in 1789, Russia in 1917, Iran in 1979 – these are but the major landmarks of a familiar trajectory where spontaneous mass movements sparked by a democratic impulse gradually fissured, polarised, and eventually captured by dictatorial tendencies.

    NAct! Bunch of charlatans the lot of them!

    • North 2.1

      I’m not an alarmist nor a conspiracist but it’s been occurring to me of late that it almost seems planned. “Import a manipulable smile and wave, win a couple, fuck them up so that the poor fullas end up paying the cost of it all…….while we continue high hopefully higher on the hog.”

      Came to me today talking to a mature mate of mine on the autumn street of a very poor provincial town ……..”Their plan is to kill the welfare state………!”

      Bastards !

      • bad12 2.1.1

        I would say that your mature mate is on the right track with His/Her thinking, I see what National are doing with a slightly different twist, the twisted politics of it will have Labour put in the position where they will be forced to start swinging the axe at the basics of the welfare state,

        The tax cuts for the rich, the asset sales to the same wealthy voters, the borrowing to plug the tax losses and loss of revenue from the income stream of state assets, couple that with a NZ dollar at a far higher value than the ‘market’ would indicate and the incessant attempts to wrest part of the income stream from the NZ dairy industry off of those that make it on behalf of the speculative global capitalists, and what will be further tax losses to the Government by these moves and the falling price of dairy product on the international market and what we have in reality is a National Government pushing the NZ economy into assuming the position much like the Greek and other European economies have been forced to do,

        Slippery and National tho know that National have a short shelf life befor the electorate get too big a whiff of them and decide they are far past there best use by date and are simply playing the economic knife edge game with the NZ economy so as to be able to hand the whole mess to the next incoming Government in effect kneecapping that Government…

      • Muzza 2.1.2

        “I’m not an alarmist nor a conspiracist ”
        Why people feel they have to open with some sort of apology for noticing the obvious is testament to the marketing lies of using the words” conspiracy theory”.
        You then go on to use a “mature friend” to offer an opinion of where the national government might be heading, so which is it, you seem confused ?
        Let me clear it up. If the government is working to an agenda of privatization of public assets, and cuts to social services etc, and there is an agenda in play to benefit cronies and sponsors, then that is “conspiracy”. Amazing how people have become so lost by spin they feel it necessary to apologize for seeing what is right on front of the eyes!

    • Treetop 2.2

      I agree to, that the National Government is normalising being undemocratic.

  3. vto 3

    Maggie bloody barrie ??????????????

    For fucks sake, I have her taking a major role in the determination of law that affects me ?????????????? Just as well I was not there – I would not have been able to contain myself.

    I rail against the quality of people in Parliament often and the evidence has just been provided yet again.

    • felix 3.1

      Could it be the Vote Them Out party is on the move?

      • vto 3.1.1

        It should be but I imagine if that was to occur now the skeletons sitting around on lprent’s server would come back to haunt me taunt me and daunt me.

        • Colonial Viper

          I understand your reluctance.

          However, it’s the cost of living. Real boats rock. Don’t trust any politician who looks too clean and too good to be true. See the US fascination with pious, faithful, never done a thing wrong (yeah right) politicians? See what good its done that country. A total falsehood engaging in a total falsehood.

          If we don’t want real people in the Beehive, all we will end up with is fakes.

          • vto

            True, I have often wondered that …. But is the media and its effects not too great today for that to be overcome?

        • felix

          I shouldn’t think that would be an issue to the voters v, if I understand your main policy platform correctly.

          • vto

            Too true felix. It is of little import. Or rather, the people behind the party are of no import – that is its raison d’etre, its fundamental filosophy, its end goal. I could just remain anonominousish.

    • North 3.2

      Maggie Barrie ?

      The “I believe I have something to offer noise noise marigold smile” Maggot Barrie ?

      Another self promoting little angel/soldier of neo-liberalism.

      Wandering on like a happy litttle girl in a country estate house garden “offering something”………Pill-Ees !!!

    • Hami Shearlie 3.3

      Just be grateful she’s not your local MP VTO! We have to put up with her arrogance 24/7! Telling us what’s best for the Shore when she’s never lived here before , really sticks in our craws!

  4. Anne 4

    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.

    Well, of course she said that… she wouldn’t have had a clue what the submitter was talking about. A Junesey-come-lately who is so politically ignorant she’s already a local embarrassment. I’m ashamed to admit I live in the electorate she represents.

    • North 4.1

      Tell us more Dear Anne……..the woman’s a snob……..useless !

      • Hami Shearlie 4.1.1

        Don’t be so mean North! She must be fab because her little boy and Jonkey’s little tyke both go to Kings College. Not to mention Banksie’s little boy! I bet half of the Nats caucus send their little babies there, to schmooze with the upper echelon and look down on the underclass (which is the other 99 percent) with pity and/or derision!

      • Anne 4.1.2

        The woman is a snob alright and a supercilious one at that. She spent the campaign days swanning around the electorate in a bran new hybrid car that I understand was given her by a wealthy local dealer. She never drove the car herself (she had a permanant chauffeur) and would sit there like Lady Muck smiling at anything that moved.

        I hear tell from others, she didn’t like questions at public meetings getting too deep into National Party policy – presumably because she didn’t really know what they were.

        But the one that takes the cake was her response to the recent row over the Takapuna Point deal with Ngati Whatua. Her opening shot (and I paraphrase) was:

        she was really concerned about it… really, really concerned but she doesn’t think people understand what is at stake here. And for this reason she had organised a public meeting with Minister Finlayson who she was sure would be able to explain it to everyone’s satisfaction.

        The ‘people’ she was referring to have been fighting to save this beautiful tract of coastal land on and off for many years and here was Madam Junesy-Come-Lately – who knew bugger all about it – arranging for the intricacies of the case to be explained to them. It didn’t go down very well.

  5. The Stepper 5

    Just to be a little bit anal about this…

    No one can guarantee someone won’t be sued. There are any number of frivolous lawsuits out there – with no merit – taken only because someone who thinks they have a point to prove. Or are just a dick. Can’t stop them suing though, they just might have extremely limited chances of success. [Sidenote, wouldn’t a law giving judges the ability to throw something out for ‘being a dick’ be awesome? Might call for more serious consideration of judge appointments though…]

    Would a written question to the Select Committee (or, more particularly, members thereof) be more successful? Simply asking questions of sitting MPs? Granted it would give them an opportunity to come up with a weaselly response, but at least some kind of answer would have to be provided (I think).

    • prism 5.1

      wouldn’t a law giving judges the ability to throw something out for ‘being a dick’ be awesome?

      Think there is a law not admitting ‘frivolous’ lawsuits.

      • The Stepper 5.1.1

        Short answer: no. In various jurisdictions there are provisions for this, but not one all-encompassing law. Anti-Arsehole Act 2012?

        A suit doesn’t necessarily need to be frivolous to be dickish. There are many examples of people suing simply to be a dick, but they have an arguable (if tentative) legal point. That will generally get them over the ‘frivolous’ threshold and it can be heard.

        • insider

          Can’t people be declared vexatious litigants and barred from pursuing certain types of case. Of course costs can be awarded after the fact or requests can be made for bonds to be lodged before an action in some cases

  6. Foreign Waka 6

    The impertinence to say that a voter has to basically shush and wait until Mrs Berry addresses him with a question just takes the cake. I vote for opening up trade agreements to make it easier to import solar panels and install this technology on every house in NZ. There has to be enough panels to generate a average family basic power requirement.Furthermore, any feeding back of energy into the grid has to be refunded in real $. Judging by past patterns of keeping the votes iwi will get a portion of something that has been paid for and is owed by all NZlanders. Commercially and legally not right by a long shot, but then again what can be expected on this ride to the moral and ethical bottom of the pit.

    • marsman 6.1

      Maggie Barry should stick to fluffing around rich peoples’ gardens.

    • insider 6.2

      It’s not impertinence, its the rules. It’s a very longstanding rule. SCs are for parliament’s benefit not witnesses. Just like in court, you don’t have the right to question the judge.

      • lprent 6.2.1

        They aren’t judges. They are untrained citizen representatives.

        Guess what – they deserve only as much respect as their actions bring them. At least with a judge I can respect their knowledge of the law.

        You can be a panderer. I just think you have a low standard.

  7. marsman 7

    I imagine this select committee is merely a sham like other such NAct shams.

    Also. With all the’ Maori settlement cash sitting around looking for a home’ I feel it would be well used to set up new ventures which would have a direct benefit to especially young Maori rather than be used to strip the country of assets.

  8. marsman 8

    Re the select committee. it is no doubt a sham as others have been. They have got their agenda, and fuck anyone who gets in the way.

    • tc 8.1

      Of course it’s a sham, maggie- barks at passing cars-Barry, Paul -ban the homeless from akl cbd-goldsmith, the odious Haynes and other servants to the cause doing their bit to tick the box and move to the next phase of the plunder process.

      Don’t worry dunne will save us….oh wait, we are screwed.

  9. Kiwi Pete 9

    Shearer should just stand up and state Labour will re-nationalise the power companies with zero compensation when they get back in. That would scupper any sale from the get-go.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      That’s what a few of us have been saying for awhile. Unfortunately, Labour don’t seem to be listening.

    • Muzza 9.2

      But that will never happen, plenty of people not wanting to accept the obvious truth why it won’t , so I’ll say it again.
      Labour , National , it makes no difference they are the same smell of the same pile of crap.
      We have had tragic mps by the dozen but having the garden show host Barry there is beyond a joke. Having her on a finance expenditure select committee , lost for words really!

  10. insider 10

    So what you are saying is that it was standard practice under the last govt for submitters to interrogate select committees, and that honoured tradition has suddenly ended?

    • Jan 10.1

      Asking this question of much of the current legislative programme is pretty pertinent given the confidentiality with which the TPPA is being negotiated.

      There is a reasonable likelihood that this legislation is being passed as a stalking horse for conditions in the proposed TPPA to proceed without further enabling legislation. It provides some illumination on why the current government are so keen to conflate the profit making and currently not for profit service delivery sectors of the public services Under a TPPA it is possible that all government services could be fair game as profit centres for international corporates whether energy companies, education or health. Since its not a question the media is asking then posed as a rhetorical question to a select committee it is entirely fair game.

  11. Georgecom 11

    My understanding is that the Grey Power-NZUSA anti asset sales petition will be launched sometime early May followed by various regional launches and activities shortly afterward. The petition is supported by the likes of Greens, Labour, CTU, Mana Party, NZF.

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