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Asset sales petition to be launched

Written By: - Date published: 8:03 am, March 6th, 2012 - 149 comments
Categories: petition, privatisation, referendum - Tags:

Confirmation that a petition for a citizens initiated referendum is to be launched by a coalition led by Grey Power, the Greens and Labour.

The word is it has been very complex getting wording agreed by all the groups. There’s still going to be a  bit of a delay while the wording goes through an official process before they’ll begin collecting signatures.

They’ve got to get 307,000 signatures to force a referendum. I reckon that’ll be pretty straightforward . It’s only a fraction of the combined membership of Grey Power, the unions, and the parties. And, together, they can bring a hell of a lot of activists on to the streets. The key will be getting as many signatures as possible as quickly as possible.

If it was me, once the petition has jumped through the official hoops, I would kick off with getting every activist in Wellington to do blanket coverage of Ohariu. And again when Mighty River goes on the block.

This is going to be a massive thorn in the government’s side. While Key is trying to explain why he is selling these assets against the people’s will, Green and Labour MPs (who should have a target of personally collecting 1,000 signatures each) along with thousands of activists will be knocking on doors and giving people an avenue to express their opposition.

And then there’s the referendum itself. Under the law, it must be conducted with 12 months of the petition being completed and presented. So, some time late 2013 – a year out from an election – the Nats are going to get hammered in a referendum.

If I was Key, I would almost be praying Dunne decides to go against the legislation. It’ll save him a whole lot of pain in the long run.

149 comments on “Asset sales petition to be launched ”

  1. Jim Nald 1

    I would be happy to be standing at a busy corner on the main street every day for an hour during lunch to collect, as an initial target, 1000 signatures.
    Bring it on 🙂

  2. The word is it has been very complex getting wording agreed by all the groups.

    I’m not surprised that’s been difficult, it’s crucial that they get this right. The ‘smacking’ referendum was farcical due to the wording.

    Apart from getting agreement the big problem with wording is it has to serve two separate purposes:
    1. To attract signatures to a petition it needs to make a bold statement on one side of the argument
    2. To make a credible referendum it needs to be a balanced, clear and non contradictory.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 2.1

      Yes Pete, it’s too hard. Better not get involved.

      • Lanthanide 2.1.1

        Pete is all for community engagement and a new way of doing politics and suchlike. I’m sure he’d be right out there on the front lines, engaging with his community to see what they think of his party’s championed policy.

        • Pete George

          Yep, I’m all for community engagement and in principle support referenda, but I’m very suspicious of party driven petitions.

          I’m interested to see if the settle on credible wording for the petition, and I’ll be interested to see how the petition goes (and the assocaited debate), and if it gets to a petition I’ll be interested to see the result of that, and then the subsequent response of Government to that.

          My main concern is that the referendum will end up being a binary question eg for or against asset sales. That won’t answer how strongly people are for or against, nor will it answer whether people may against asset sales but against the alternatives even more.

          There’s also a problem that the petition and possible referendum may not look at what is eventually actually proposed in legislation as opposed to all sorts of claims flying around at the moment.

          • Kotahi Tane Huna

            My main concern is that the referendum could drown in a shallow puddle of vacillating froth from United Future.

          • Ben Clark

            Pete, the law requires that it be a binary question, with a clear Yes or No answer. So if that’s your main concern you can be pretty sure it’ll be fulfilled.

            • Pete George

              I know, and that’s one deficiency of the process.

              The other major deficiency is the timeframe involved, it takes far too long.

              By the time the petition is done, confirmed, and then if successful the referendum is eventually held it wil be way down the track. There could even be assets sold by then.

              * Citizens’ Initiated Referendums require a petition signed by 10 per cent of enrolled voters – just over 307,000 signatures.

              * Organisers have 12 months to collect the signatures.

              * The Government then chooses when the referendum is held.

              * It is not bound by the result.


              • McFlock

                it’s all so futile, why bother. Much better to get community engagement organised by people who have managed to sit through the last twenty years with no party affiliation whatsoever. There’ll be enough of them eager to futilely volunteer their time, surely! /sarc

              • Actually having a binary question is an advantage of the CIR process. The problem is that it’s still not good enough. You can get loaded questions, (like the one pushed by Family Fist) or “fluff questions”. (like the “should we give better support to firefighters?” question)

                Ideally what we should have is a draft bill that would be introduced by a CIR, and use a paraphrased question that independent lawyers write to sum up the draft bill.

                • It’s an advantage if used the way you suggest, associated with a binding referendum. That’s a form of process that could actually work, as compared to the current system designed to fob off. But I don’t see our parliament putting anything like that in place.

                  • No, I mean a binary question is ALWAYS better for the kinds of questions you’ll get from CIR. The only time I’d say you need non-binary questions is when you ask voters about electoral reform, and even then, the approach the latest one took where we have a binary “change or not?” and then our options works quite well.

  3. I agree with Jim that this petition needs to be circulated near and wide and will do my bit.  I thought the wording should be crowd sourced to see what could be agreed upon.
    For me something like the following could work:

    We the free people of New Zealand hereby declare that we oppose the assets built up by the blood sweat and tears of our forefathers being privatised for the benefit only of the wealthy and overseas corporate interests.

    • Gosman 3.1

      You are joking aren’t you?

      Otherwise this is one seriously funny unintentional post.

    • Lanthanide 3.2

      Not sure if you’re serious or not, but that’s terrible.

      • mickysavage 3.2.1

        It is off the top of my head and is intended to be a starter for discussion.

        • Pete George

          It’s a good starter for discussion then, as an example of the easiest sort of petition/referendum for a government to ignore – it would be simple to say that any proposed sale programme is not addressed by this.

        • Gosman

          Off the top of your head – really???

          The top of your head seems to be a mix of faux Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill pomposity.

          • Uturn

            Sneering is the lowest form of intelligence.

            • Gosman

              I personally think smashing your head repeatedly against the keyboard as a reply would probably qualify as indicating a level of intelligence lower than someone replying with a sneering comment. A couple of your posts today have come close to this level.

              • Uturn

                I haven’t smashed my head against a keyboard today. Have you? You want to play this game gosman? OK.

                Sneerers, sometimes intelligent in a knowledgeable way, but rarely in a self awareness way. They’re suffered some kind of continued humiliation, emotional abuse or oppression as children or young adults and now can’t make it past their own fear to express their pain and start to grow again. Their minds are prone to anxiety and panic and they are expert at predicting outcomes and finding patterns within information – it’s how they keep the inner hurt child safe. Sometimes it gets so bad they lose all control and try to humiliate others as they have been as a last ditch attempt to communicate their pain. They hide behind powerful people, their spouses, rules, duty, ideals and organisations. Their conscious identity is based almost enirely on the persona and is very is fragile.

                So who was it gosman? Your father? Your teachers? Your mother or siblings? Maybe just our sucky NZ culture? That’s why you come here. To demonstrate you are worth something by lazily pushing against the ideas you disagree with. Conflict is power and control, and control means not having the fear. Is that it gosman?

                The trouble is gosman, you won’t get what you need here. You have to look inside, meet your pain head on and learn to grow again. My sympathy for your predicament has run out because you reach for the easy psychological painkiller and sneer and abuse others. You’ll just end up banned and alone, trapped in your own pain.

                • Gosman


                  Gotta love that pop psychology. Next you’ll be telling me that if only we thought positive thoughts then everything would be right with the world.

                  Now that you bring up self awareness, have you ever thought that some of the stuff you write about might in fact be complete rubbish?

                  • Uturn

                    Yeah yeah, bluster bluster, look at me, look at me… We know gosman. We know. You use the same recipe every time.

                    Expression reveals the person. That’s the rule, no one exempt. You’ve been rambling on here long enough to show us exactly who you are, all your little fears and ticks. How is the dissociative disorder going for you? Will you be here tomorrow, pushing – or should that be slouching – against ideas you disagree with? Or will you do the hard work and start your own blog of your ideas, from scratch? I think we all know the answer. Easier to disagree, eh. Less work. Sort of like an intellectual bludger. The thing is, not many people here will be interested in your ideas because the purpose of this blog is the complete opposite. Wrong market, old chap.

          • mickysavage

            You should develop a sense of humour Gossie.  It helps the long winter nights fly.

          • lprent

            Seems to be quite virulent. You seem to have almost as big a pomposity dose as PG…. 😈

        • Lanthanide

          Your question is so obviously biased and leading that any results would be ignored.

          That was a similar problem with the anti-smacking question.

    • alex 3.3

      “We the undersigned do not support the partial or complete sale of state owned power companies.”

      Job done.

      • Only not.

        The wording of CIR’s must be capable of a “yes” or “no” answer … that’s kind of the point of a referendum.

        • alex

          Should the government sell any stake in state owned power companies?

          Better? You legal eagle you.

      • Enough is Enough 3.3.2


        Specific and to the point. Turn that into a question and it will leave the recipient with no doubt as to what the undersigned are petitioning. Something that Key and his smarmy band of thieves cant ignore.

        That statement above from Savage is an example of the worst kind of emotive off this planet rambling possible. The government would laugh that off as meaningless drivel. Are you really a lawyer…this and your opinion on company directors duties has me wondering what law school you went to….

        • yeshe

          Why is it being limited to power stations ? Are we not intent upon opposing sales of any state owned assets ?

          • KJT

            Buying and selling of State assets occurs all the time.
            Strategic infrastructure which delivers an income stream and is essential for NZ should not be sold.

        • Uturn

          Well Enough is Enough, here’s the thing about yours and others comments to Savage. I’ll spell it out so we all catch the context:

          This is the internet. It’s a public forum for ideas and discussion. We all peruse this and other sites, we read the various comments, we know how thoughts translate into words and how discussions often stray from serious academic presentations to lighthearted comedy to passionate outbursts and back again. We should all have realised by now that words taken straight from thoughts and typed onto the page are not as inhibited as those we speak to each other in person. We are all smart people, are we not? All capable of understanding, of keeping one eye on the context as well as the material? Of not getting lazy and disappearing into cyberworld completely, like dreamy toddlers? Of bringing some real life awareness and perspective to the electronic medium? We are? Hmmm?

    • Link whore.

      That is just weird.  It does not way anything.  It is like saying “Lets make everything better” and not worrying about the details because they are too difficult.  Do you approve of inertia? 

      • Tigger 4.1.1

        Pete, just give it up mate. Its embarrassing watching your pathetic attempts at misdirection

        Ohariu voter here. Will be volunteering to get signatures all over our beautiful electorate..


    • KJT 4.2

      Typical politician/PG answer. A lot of waffle that says nothing.
      And of course we want to bring down the bunch of lying thieves we have in Government.
      Before they have done so much damage we can never recover.
      Like the Right wing Government in Greece.

  4. fabregas4 5

    I would happily collect signatures here up North. In fact, I’d guess that the number of folk prepared to collect signatures would hit the referendum number required alone.

  5. Kotahi Tane Huna 6

    Q1. Do you support treason charges for politicians who propose asset sales? Yes or no. If “no” go to question 2.
    Q2. Do you support exile for politicians who propose asset sales? Yes or no. If “no” go to question 3.
    Q3. Do you support public flogging and head-shaving for politicians who propose asset sales? Yes or no. If “no” go to question 4.
    Q4. Do you support a namby pamby bleeding heart liberal holiday camp slap on the wrist for politicians who propose asset sales? Yes or no. If “no” go to question 5.
    Q5. You’re one of them, aren’t you?

    Too complicated?

    How about: “We the undersigned do not support the sale of publicly owned assets by this or any other New Zealand government”?

    • rosy 6.1

      Good, but…
      “We the undersigned do not support the sale of publicly owned assets, in their entirety or partially, by this or any other New Zealand government”?

      • Lanthanide 6.1.1

        I couldn’t sign such a petition, because it’s too much of a blanket. I would support (or at least not oppose) the sale of some SoEs, such as TVNZ, and it’s only this government’s current plans that I specifically object to because we aren’t in such a financial position where it is our only choice, as ably demonstrated by Labour at the election.

      • Gosman 6.1.2

        So you believe that if a School closes in a particular location because of falling class sizes and/or amalgamation with another school the Government can’t sell the land and use the funds to support other schools?

        If we take this to it’s logical conclusion the Government will be steadily accumulating more and more assets slowly crowding out the private sector as well as having an awful lot of useless assets that they will have to maintain for no benefit.

        • Kotahi Tane Huna

          Thanks Gos (and Lanth), good points both.

          “We the undersigned do not support the sale of publicly owned significant assets by this or any other New Zealand government”?


          “We the undersigned do not support the current government’s policy of asset sales”?

          The devil is in the details as ever.

          • rosy

            Or it could be restricted to SoEs or require agreement with a given percentage of the opposition.

          • Gosman

            Stick with the wording about this Government and specify the policy of partial sale of SOE’s.

            Good luck with the petition. It is not going to make a blind bit of difference in my opinion but at least it will make you feel like you did something and that’s important.

            • Lanthanide

              It makes things difficult for National and will harm their chances at the next election because they will have ignored the clear will of the people (like they already did once with the anti-smacking referendum).

              • So it’s political campaigning rather than having and realistic attempt at changing the policy.

                • KJT

                  So what!

                • rosy

                  All it needs is one MP to realise there is no mandate for asset sales and cross the floor.

                • Kotahi Tane Huna

                  Pete are you deliberately obtuse or does it come naturally? Has it not occurred to you that a political campaign is a realistic way of changing policy?

                  • Of course it is an available political tactic, although parliament is the more common domain for parties to try and influence policies.

                    I just think it’s worth recognising that although called a Citizen Initiated Referendum this appears to be more of a political party/group initiated referendum.

                    It’s not clear how much of it is simply politically motivated and how much might be for the good of the people.

                    • Roger

                      “Of course it is an available political tactic, although parliament is the more common domain for parties to try and influence policies.”

                      The parties that have the power in parliament want to sell the assets. The people who do not want asset sales (the majority) are not MPs so it is just about the only real option.

                      “I just think it’s worth recognising that although called a Citizen Initiated Referendum this appears to be more of a political party/group initiated referendum.”

                      And I think it’s worth recognising that 307000 agreeing to support the call for a referrendum is significant regardless of the citizen’s party or group affiliations.

                      “It’s not clear how much of it is simply politically motivated and how much might be for the good of the people.”

                      It is for the good of the people that government owned companies operating in a natural monopoly markets, providing essential services and bringing in steady returns for the country are not sold down to the point where foreign investors can force the companies to remove any social or environmental objectives and charge us more for power so that they can line their own pockets.

                • felix

                  What’s the difference, Pete? I mean that quite seriously.

                  I’d happily support a National govt that enacted policies I agree with.

                  Wouldn’t you?

                  • See above for the answer to your first question.

                    I’d happily support any policies I agreed with no matter which party proposed them. I supported and took advantage of the Green initiated home heating and insulation policy. I support the Labour balloted Monday-ising bill.

                    And I’m reserving my support or otherwise for the asset sales petition, depending on how it’s worded. I think it’s probably too late and the process is far too slow to be much use though.

                    • felix

                      You may have missed my point, which was (intended to be) simply:

                      What’s wrong with putting pressure on any party to change their policies?

        • McFlock

          Actually, there’s no reason a defunct school can’t be turned into a community centre or demolished for state housing. It doesn’t need to be sold.

    • Gosman 6.2

      This thread is turning into classic comedy gold.

    • Lanthanide 6.3

      I couldn’t sign such a petition, because it’s too much of a blanket. I would support (or at least not oppose) the sale of some SoEs, such as TVNZ, and it’s only this government’s current plans that I specifically object to because we aren’t in such a financial position where it is our only choice, as ably demonstrated by Labour at the election.

  6. Striker9 7

    Mighty River Power are first on the block. Along with petition, could boycott and mass movement of customers away from Mercury and Bosco, both owned by Mighty River, throw a spanner in the works too. Just a thought.


  7. Roy 8

    Put a copy online that people can print out, sign and mail in.

  8. vto 9

    Why is a petition even needed?

    The majority of New Zealanders voted for parties that stated no asset sales. The biggest referendum, the general election, has already sorted this out.

    • lcmortensen 9.1

      We’d be struggling to say so: we’re 0.13% short.

      National + ACT + United Future = 48.98% of the party vote
      Labour + Green + NZ First + Mana + Conservatives = 48.86% of the party vote

      Then again, election results on a particular policy can be confounded by other policies. What other policies could make someone vote National or ACT despite the threat of privatisation?

      • Pete George 9.1.1

        I don’t think the election was won so much on policies but rather the perception of ability to manage the economy.

        Labour betting virtually their whole campaign on anti asset sales and bumping up the minimum wage (many workers as well as small business employers weren’t happy with this) suggested a narrow lack of vision.

        They did dabble with a CGT that might have a bit of a positive benefit some time late in the decade (or not) but didn’t seem to fully back this. Voters wanted the economy sorted sooner.

        Not promoting or backing their leader didn’t help either.

        • McFlock

          Don’t forget rotten boroughs creating a tory overhang. That helped the nats get in. Embarrassing for them, though, that their majority has been whittled down so far that they need the support of nematode parties.

          • alwyn

            That comment has absoltely zero connection with reality.
            The number of MPs is determined by the nation-wide party vote and any party that has even one list MP must have votes for more members than they have won electorates.
            National has got list MPs. They therefore did not get an overhang from “rotten boroughs”.
            It would be possible to claim that the Maori electorates are close to being the equivalent of the old rotten boroughs (because of the way they count the children in determining the number of people in the electorate) but none of the other electorates come close.

            • McFlock

              Firstly, if National had not run Clayton’s campaigns in Epsom and Ohariu then National would still have <50% of the parliamentary party vote. By having candidates tearing down their own election hoardings National got two electorate seats from different parties, i.e. in addition to their party vote. This is the only reason they can sell assets (depending on Maori Party decision – haven’t followed whether they’ve completely sold out or not).
              Then there is the question of the Maori Party: at least nobody can accuse them of having faced patsy campaigns.

              • alwyn

                There are a couple of things on this.
                These seats are nothing like “rotten boroughs”. Rotten boroughs existed in Britain prior to the 1832 reforms. They were electorates that had basically lost almost all their constituents but continued to elect MPs. Some of them had less than 10 voters. One of them had fallen into the sea from erosion. Both Ohariu and Epsom are essentially the same size as any other electorate and the use of the term “rotten borough” is not realistic.
                If Banks had not been elected in Epsom, and National had won the seat the absence of an ACT MP would have, I understand, led to National getting 60 rather than 59 MPs. This is due to the vagaries of allocating the final seats. I cannot give you a reference to this on-line but I saw the calculation just after the election.
                You also suggest that National would have got less than 50% of the party vote and imply that this does not give them a mandate. It is quite likely that a party could get less than 50% but get more than half the seats in the house. This is because a party, such as the Conservatives in 2011, or NZF in 2008 get less than 5% but do not win an electorate. So what? The only real way around it would be to reduce the party vote threshold down to zero.
                In terms of Clayton’s campaigns of course all the Green candidates in 2008 ran such things. All the Green MPs were saying “don’t vote for me, vote for the Labour candidate”. On the West Coast the Green candidate even announced that he had voted for the Labour person.

                • McFlock

                  check it out from the election results website
                  It looks to me like National still get under 50% of the votes that parties which reach the threshold or get an electorate receive.
                  60 seats is still not a majority, even without an overhang.
                  And I was using the term “rotten borough” in the context of an electorate that becomes essentially a gifted seat for a patron to provide undemocratic, excessive and undeserved influence in parliament, rather than strictly by their size.

                  • alwyn

                    My last comment on this.
                    You are right on the total. If you add up the Labour, Greens, New Zealand First, Maori and Mana party votes thay come to 1,066,003. National got 1,058,636. Bloody close though wasn’t it?
                    Somehow, though, I cannot see anyone putting together a coalition from hell like that one and holding it together for three years.
                    Both Russell and Winstone would demand that they were deputy PM and Minister of Finance and that the other was relegated to posts outside cabinet.
                    I have excluded ACT and UF as you regard them as not going to be in Parliament without National giving them an electorate seat. Thus there would only be six parties.
                    Your classing Ohariu as being an electorate that is within National’s ability to assign is going to upset Charles Chauvel though. Champagne Charlie likes to think that it is really his.

        • mickysavage


          I don’t think the election was won so much on policies but rather the perception of ability to manage the economy.

          It was actually won because the turnout was crap.  Feel free to deny and I will then bombard you with a plethora of statistics and analysis.

          But the turnout was even lower than 2008 because people thought it was a foregone conclusion.  Shame really, it was a razor edge seat of the pants win for the Nats and this will show in the next couple of years. 

          • Pete George

            Non-voters didn’t think Labour were worthy of a vote.

            • rosy

              You have evidence to support that, Pete? Without evidence, at best you could only say that voting for any party was not their priority on election day.

            • McFlock

              By that logic, the percentage of the population who thought UF was worthy of a vote indicates that you have no idea what voters think.

  9. If realistic the petition will need wording something like this:

    Do you oppose the National party asset sales programme that you don’t have the final details of yet and that will be under way by the time any possible resulting non binding referendum might be held but you want to kick their arse next election regardless?

    • fender 10.1

      It’s good to have input from a flake who has had the “kick up the ass”, tnx PG, and tnx Dunedin North.

    • lprent 10.2

      Solution to that is obvious. National should have had the details available about how the sales would be made before the last election. Hell they should have the details out now… Where are they? Stuck up Peter Dunne’s fundement as far as I’m aware.

      National didn’t campaign on the details of the policy for good tactical reasons — they wanted to win the election. For similar tactical reasons those details will probably become available about the time that the legislation is passed and the assets sold. Guess what, it is hard to retroactively nationalize those assets, although that is what I think should happen based on the sneaking around that National, Act, United Future, and even the Maori party have been doing.

      So you’re actually whining that the government is being secretive about the details of the asset sales. Bitch to them.

      • Pete George 10.2.1

        No. I think there was enough detail during the election to be fairly clear about National’s intentions.

        They are currently going through a consultation process with coalition partners (and possibly other parties) to put together a package that will get sufficient support to get through the first reading and on to the next (committee) stage where more discussion and consultation will take place.

        We won’t know the final details until the end of this whole process. That’s fairly normal.

        • lprent

          Nope. The primary benefit that National and its partners were touting for the partial privatization was the 6 billion in debt repayment (ie paying for the taxcut hole). Turns out that the best advice they had for an expected return was a little less than half of that and that National were touting a fantasy figure. And based on treasuries track record with predicting returns on asset sales in the past, I’d expect that the actual return would be about half of that.

          Almost everyone who looked closely at what National said came up with the same thing. It was almost impossible to restrict or even retain a significant fraction of the 49% ownership within NZ. National said that was possible, and are now saying that it is not.

          National were saying before the election that the 51% that the government retained would be sufficient to control the physical assets and prevent their on-sale. Now they are saying that they wouldn’t want to prevent that. It doesn’t look to me like they are planning to even restrict the listing to the local stockmarket – so much for widening the base.

          In short there appears to be no part of National’s statements prior to the election that appears to bear any relationship to what they are planning on doing apart from their determination to sell them. In short – National were lying their arse off. The vacillating parties like United Future appear to have been sucked in by the bullshit and now have a hook solidly placed for National to reel them in…

          I could go on. But lets take the much smaller task. Tell me what parts of the policy you think have remained the same…

        • mickysavage

          Petey so you think that the asset sale proposal is vague and lacking in detail.

          Fair enough.

          Then why did the Government (coiffured one included) include the sale figures in the books?  This Government not only needs the sale to go ahead but will have a big hole in the books if they are not sold.  And if, gasp, they are not sold for enough then severe cuts are going to have to be made in some really important areas.

          Kinda irresponsible doncha think? 

  10. Hey guys … can’t help but note you missed a fairly major opposition party from your list!

  11. felix 12

    Interesting, Pete.

    People who get involved in the political process are often criticised on the basis that there’s no point opposing something that hasn’t happened yet, then when it does happen they’re criticised because there’s no point opposing something that’s already happened.

    You’ve managed to simultaneously voice those objections to participation in one comment. Well done.

    How’s the new type of politics going btw?

    • McFlock 12.1

      Someone uses Yes Minister as their playbook, in lieu of actual policy and principle.

    • felix, that illustrates the shortcomings of our petition/referenda process, doesn’t it. Too slow and cumbersome and ineffectual to be much use within our democratic system. Designed by politicians to be that way.

      How do you think we could have a more effective public feedback and lobby system?

      • Blighty 12.2.1

        the sales will be happening as this petition is being signed and by the time the referendum is held.

      • felix 12.2.2

        That’s a good question Pete, and over the medium to long term an important one.

        However right now I’m a bit more concerned about our energy infrastructure being flogged off so I’ll be focusing on using whatever tools I have available in the present to stop that from happening.

        • Pete George

          I don’t see how a petition/referendum system designed to have some semblance of democratic process but more effecient at fobbing off long term public policy initiatives can be very useful for dealing with government priority legislation on the go.

          I doubt National will mind that so much time and attention is going into a futile sideshow while they proceed.

          Stopping it proceeding may be harder than trying to change Dunne’s mind, the Maori Party are sounding like they may be on board the asset sale train as well.

          • Matthew Whitehead

            Honestly, this issue is going to be a deathblow for either of the more centrist support parties of the government. If the Maori Party gets on board, I don’t see how they retain their seats next election.

  12. Kevin 13

    It may be to late to mount an electoral challenge to the Governments asset sale programme. Legislation is well down the track to pave the way for asset sales, the Maori Party have offered the only real opposition by insisting on the Section 9 inclusion in legislation to protect the “Kiwi” share of assets from being sold off.
    The National Party campaigned on asset sales prior to the election and their reappointment as government is seen by them as endorsement of an asset sales programme.
    If a petition is not successful, the New Zealand public will have to adopt a different tactic and that is to buy into the assets, putting your money where your mouth is. In the case of power co’s this may prove to be a lucrative decision, however buying into Air New Zealand may prove to be more challenging, as would buying into Television New Zealand which is facing an uncertain future technology wise.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 13.1

      Or not. Another way would be to support re-nationalisation, either without compensation (my preferred option) or at the original price without interest.

      Enough support in the electorate for these policies will ruin the sale, scaring off investors and making it clear to those foolish enough to collaborate with the bought party that they will lose their shirts.

      Seriously, we’ve had enough of this kleptocrat and his half-wit hangers-on. It’s time the gloves came off.

      • Te Reo Putake 13.1.1

        Without compensation is definitely the preferred option if we are going to recoup lost investment for the country. Imagine how much better Kiwrail would be if we didn’t have pay a ridiculous price to buy it back.
        In the alternative, nationalisation with compensation set at either purchase price or the market price, whichever is the lower.
        As the warning says; share prices go down as well as up and your experience may differ from the advertisement.

        • insider

          That’s a nonsense. NZ Rail had something like $1b in debt written off in the 80s. that was debt accrued under govt ownership. Imagine if it had not had that burden removed. It has always lost money no matter who owns it.

          • McFlock

            Amazing how effectively trucking companies can compete with rail when they don’t have to absorb 100% of the cost of road maintenance.
            Oh, that and when rail companies suddenly switch from being an unemployment sump into a profit-seeking enterprise all at once, it sets them up for a fail. 

            • insider

              Where does this trucks don’t pay the costs come from? Highway costs are fully funded by fuel taxes. Plus those taxes fund a bunch of other things too. Local roads get about 50%

              • McFlock

                Because the NLTF is the sole source of funding for NZ highways?
                No other government funds whatsoever?

              • KJT

                We had this one out several years ago.
                The shipping federation conclusively proved that trucking is heavily subsidised.
                By: Light vehicle petrol and road taxes, council rates used for roading, oil import hidden costs, among others, and soon, carbon charges.
                Not to mention noise, congestion and parking.

          • Kotahi Tane Huna

            I suspect the biggest problem for NZ rail (outside of predatory wingnuts) is an engineering issue: our narrow gauge, and consequent speed limitations.

  13. johnm 14

    My Opinion which others are free to refute if they wish:

    Shonkey, Dunny Paper, and the Baubles and Bangles party plus the Axe party known as Act are far far worse than Doug Graham and the rest’s constructive fraud at Lombard. The former through a corrupt gamed system, not representing the majority are committing daylight robbery of extremely important strategic assets owned by the totality of New Zealanders, whether they be rich, middle, poor, deserving or undeserving i.e. in the common good, in the name of a criminally selfish ideology of the rich get richer the poor get screwed known as neoliberalism :which is the common good is rubbish market advantage is everything which is concentrated in the 1%s hands, the result of this being debt slavery and the neofeudalism of the working poor. The ultimate aim is to 100% privatise all wealth into private hands in a grab what you can and the devil take the losers. The losers lose as the common good is relentlessly incrementally dismantled.

    Take the U$$$$$$ You have the rich there living in their own cocoons having bought and sold the Repubs and Dems presiding over a shit pile of ordinary sheople americans living in miserable poverty. Example? 47,000,000 Yanks exist on food handouts.

    • johnm 14.1

      I forgot to add if you’re illiterate in the U$$$$ and can’t fill out the Bull Shit paperwork for foodstamps have no fixed abode and can’t pay someone to help you you end up hungry on the streets. Your best option then is to access the U$$$$$’s major growth sector Privatised prisons by committing an offence. Then you get a warm cosy cell and three meals a day and you don’t have to fill in all that BS paperwork booklets! Plus all that attention you never had before! From a nobody to a somebody in an easy action. Also you helping the economy by creating more GDP. creating employment for prison builders and guards and the tech weapons to control inmates.

  14. DH 15

    I think the best approach to wording it is to take a leaf out of the justice system. Make it a simple blanket coverage question with option of an exception.


    “Should any state asset with a value greater than $x million be sold without a public referendum”

    That would ban all sales subject to us approving it. Simple, effective and with little chance of misinterpretation.

    (the value part would be a bit subjective & possibly some other wording might be more appropriate but it would probably suffice)

    • Make “that without a binding public referendum”.

      The obvious problem being that this referendum wouldn’t be binding.

    • Lanthanide 15.2

      But it doesn’t actually address the issue at hand: whether we should sell the SoEs that National is preparing to sell.

      Someone who supports asset sales can just as equally answer Yes to the question you’ve proposed as someone who opposes asset sales. That test tells you that you aren’t asking the correct question.

      • DH 15.2.1

        Sure it does. You include each asset as separate questions in the same referendum.

        Should assets be sold without a referendum yes/no

        If no should the following be sold

        1/ Sold Energy yes/no
        2/ AirNZ yes/no
        3/ etc etc yes/no

        Would be bloody hard for any Govt to go against a referendum like that without risking a public flogging.

        • insider

          “Sold Energy” – snigger

          Why do we own a coal miner? When was the last time anyone put coal on a fire?

          • McFlock

            Down south we do. I believe that coal-fired stations also provide extra grid generation when required.

            • insider

              But coal is not ‘vital’, in that you could use electricity or wood. Should we nationalise firewood suppliers?

              Huntly is the main coal power station – it’s more than just a backup and a lot of its coal comes from Indonesia. Much of our domestic coal goes to Fonterra for process heat to make milkpowder.

              • McFlock

                You mean the electricity producers that they’re looking to sell (and don’t give me that 49% bs), and the forests that the Crown is getting out of?
                I credit you lot for consistency in the believe that no strategic asset is worth the protection and public benefit of public ownership, but ffs. Every single one? 

                • Colonial Viper

                  But coal is not ‘vital’, in that you could use electricity or wood.


                  • insider

                    Why is that funny? How do you heat your house? Do you have an aga?

                    • McFlock

                      I do. Lots of people do. It’s called “Shit that can’t get cut off or have lines come down in winter”

                    • insider

                      I use wood as the primary heat. Even if I had a multiburner I don’t think I’d use coal as its so messy. I don’t understand why cv thinks substituting coal with wood or an electric heat pump is funny

                    • McFlock

                      Same reason steam engines ran on coal when they could.
                      Now imagine a limited budget. Which is better?

                    • insider

                      I don’t know the cost and heat value of coal – but I’ll assume it’s better cos you’ve asked the question 🙂 It costs me about 250 a cord and I use 2.5 each winter usually.

                    • McFlock

                      Depends on the coal – I only know that after buying the cheapest coal that seemed to be 90% rocks 🙂
                      But of course the big example is the transport that has to carry its own fuel – ships were on coal, not carrying holds full of wood for fuel.
                      No idea on usage though – I do coal, spare wood and electricity, and all of them also heat the water  🙂

                    • Colonial Viper

                      FFS you burn shit low grade coal for heat, you use good metallurgical coal to make steel.

                      Anyone driven a car this week? Or gone inside a tall building? Or crossed a bridge? Steel more than any other material marks the first two thirds of the 20th century.

                    • insider

                      What’s that got to do with home heating, which is what we were talking about.

                    • Colonial Viper


                      You asked why anyone would own a coal miner.

                      And then you ran your entire bullshit argument on the use of shitty crap cheap heating coal, ignoring all the high value uses of quality coal.

                    • insider

                      No.if you follow the order of the thread The vital reference was clearly in response to mcflock’s comment that he still put coal on his fire. Try to keep up.

                • insider

                  Id primarily ask what options are available in deciding. So ports are a natural monopoly in their area but there are plenty of port options in nz, so no need for the state. but in say western Australia or a pacific island you might reach a different conclusion.

                  So I’m happy with transpower being govt owned, but Id like to see it challenged a bit more on its investments. It’s currently a cosy cartel with the powercos and we end up paying a lot often for their benefit, and they shriek crisis and the govt panics and tend to chuck money at them. There is almost an incentive to fail occasionally. You could perhaps drive efficiency through a 10 year operating contract. You could even separate out north and south networks as they pretty much run independently and the hvdc as a discrete asset. Might not be worth the hassle though.

                  I think a reasonable case could be made for the core phone network too but there are (limited) alternatives like wireless and fibre like Telstra has in some places. Given its already private you could just control it like lines companies. Roads and rail similar. You can contract out rail if you wanted but road might be a bit harder cause we don’t track cars individually – though we do contact it out to a large extent as all the thinking and design build and maintenance is done by consultants – nzta is pretty much a project manager and purse holder, and policy shop.

          • DH

            Well for starters because coal brings in good export earnings, and since we own it the income stays in the country & broadens the tax base. Solid Energy also have the institutionalised knowledge & experience necessary for NZ to mine & export our own mineral resources instead of giving them away to foreigners for a pittance.

  15. FairnessAtWork 16


    here’s the question the campaign’s going with:

    Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air NZ?

    • Bruce 16.1

      In my opinion, keep it simple and keep it straight to the point:

      “Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air NZ?”

      Yes/No to this question sounds good.

      Lets not dither, lets make a decision and get on with it. The left has some real ammunition with this issue and it seems supported by people of all political persuasions.

  16. Roy 17

    John Key on a referendum: “I don’t care, nyeah nyeah nyeah”


    • muzza 17.1

      “He (JK) said National had openly campaigned on the issue and won the election decisively.”

      delusional at all!

    • taxicab 17.2

      Intersting link Roy , I see Shonkey say’s any New Zealander is going to be able to buy shares NO !! Anyone on a benefit will not be as an annual declaration to WINZ if filled out honestly will invoke the wrath of Paula ie you will be required to sell your shares and live off the proceeds until you are asset srtipped before being eligable to get a benefit . So how many Mum and Dads and others are effectively disenfranchised from this process .

      • Roy 17.2.1

        Shonkey probably only counts wealthy people as people. Beneficiaries are not real people and therefore can’t be New Zealanders, in his eyes.

  17. Fortran 18

    I have resigned from Grey Power, whose intents are not to be Political.
    Silly old buggers should keep word and refrain.

    • Colonial Viper 18.1


      Do you reckon issues like Super are not political? Did you ever notice all the political meetings Grey Power organises with candidates up and down the country? Winston always draws a big Grey Power crowd lol

      Good on them for being a community group who is politically interested!

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 18.2

      Grey Power used to be apolitical back in the day. I can remember when they took all us “silvers” on a lovely trip to Waitomo Caves, and Meryl left her sunglasses on the bus, but that was ok, because it’s dark in the caves.

      But then a group of radical “progressive” silvers infiltrated the group I used to love, and started exercising their right to freedom of speech and getting involved in “issues”

      It’s so hard to find a decent herd of sheep these days!

    • mac1 18.3

      Here is a link to the Grey Power website. http://www.greypower.co.nz/policies/

      The policies of Grey Power are spelled out there.

      It has a long-standing policy on opposition to asset sales. “To ensure that there is no further privatization of water and public state assets and to resist any sales of SOEs.

      This policy was reiterated before the last election. Here is the link. powershop.scoop.co.nz/2011/11/11/grey-power-any-asset-sales-must-remain-in-nz-ownership/#more-784

      Thirdly Grey Power is political, of course, but not party political. The press release I have read mentions a coalition of community groups led by Grey Power, and also the Unions and at least two political parties are involved.

      Grey Power has to be political in the general sense in order to get its policies enacted.

      This from one of those ‘silly old buggers’ (and proud to be) you mentioned so disparagingly.

  18. tc 19

    Noble though this idea is, the hollowmen are a few steps ahead, got the maori div of the nat party on board and have urgency in the event this looks like it may become an invonvenience to their asset stripping plans.

    They’ve waited more than 10 years for this and IMO the only saviour is for them to not have the numbers to pass the blagging.

  19. we all need to support ONE petition and this should be it. please make it printable so those without the luxury of internet can be counted.

  20. Reagan Cline 21

    I’ll be voting with my wallet. Not interested in buying shares in more NZ power companies (already have some in Contact Energy). The market will be skewed by a rush of inexperienced retail investors with a quick buck in mind, the Government will have a controlling interest, so my vote and anything I might say at the Annual Meeting will be kiboshed from the start, the vagaries of rainfall and demand in NZ (4.4 million energy consumers and plenty of power companies to choose from – supply might well exceed demand and they will try to artificially raise demand – unsustainable), finally environmental and maori interests are always going to be lurking in the background. Coal mines are a different story altogether – if they float coalcorp I might come calling.
    Meanwhile, aren’t we seeing a smoke screen with the State “asset” sale furore ? How are the various interest groups making use of this ?

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 21.1

      Do you honestly believe people are paying attention to your weasel words? We need better wingnuts.

  21. Reagan Cline 22

    Thanks for responding KTH. Yes I believe some people are paying attention and I agree we need better wingnuts. I looked it up and it is American slang for extreme right wing – why do we import even our slang terms ? By the way – where was your bus to Waitomo made and where did the capital come from to build that road through the King Country ?

  22. Reagan Cline 23

    Thanks again. And enjoy that laugh !!!

  23. Jim Nald 24

    Has Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia sold their souls? To John Key? How much? And for what end?


    Gee, Pita, can you really hear yourself these days? And actually even believe in what you say?

    [audio src="http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/mnr/mnr-20120306-0812-harawira_urges_maori_party_to_quit_government_over_asset_sales-048.mp3" /]

  24. If key and co can ignore the opinion of the masses over assets sales,i really dont think
    a petition is going to be a game changer,it wasn’t with the anti-smacking bill,so consideration
    should be given to take a more direct action and that is a mass protest ending on the steps
    of parliament,similar to the protest with mining on precious land some time ago.
    There is a ground swell out there against asset sales about 70+%.
    Surely the maori party can see that key and english went away from the hui’s with
    an idea that they could engineer and twist what the meetings really wanted and they
    did that,however their devious ways will come back to haunt them because some
    maori are not happy at all that the section 9 did not cover both crown and private.
    there will be tears before bedtime,the storm is brewing.
    Petitions are fine also when you have an acceptable party to listen and take notice,this
    crowd is simply not interested in what the public think,arrogance abound by key when
    he said ‘thats what we have elections for’ but a slim majority of 1 does not give him
    the consent to ride roughshod over majority public opinion and he needs to be made
    to see and understand kiwi’s are just not happy about their precious,strategic assets
    getting hocked off partially or fully to overseas interests,because that is what will happen and we all know it, these assets are not an airport or a television station etc,they are assets that
    have been built using men’s blood,sweat,tears and bloody hard work,they are our life
    blood,our security,our future,somehow there needs to be a strong message sent to key and co.

  25. RedBaron 26

    If enough of us slap our name on the petition quickly then the other parties can just say, “Sorry John we have community support to renationalise” and then buy back at the lower of cost or market value less 10% per day for every day in private ownership.

    That should frighten off any buyers.

  26. TJ Martin 27

    where do we sign this petiton. I live in Christchurch – how can I help get signatures for this petition.

    Regards TJ

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