Author Archive

‘Mum & Dad’ right to be angry with Nats

Written By: - Date published: 9:42 am, December 5th, 2013 - 40 comments

Mighty River, Meridian, and Air New Zealand are all now trading well below their listing prices costing ‘mum and dad investors’ who were taken in by National’s ad campaign tens of millions of dollars of their savings. Bill English’s angry response is ‘you would be complaining if they had made windfall gains too’. He’s right. And there’s the rub.

Transmission Gully: they profit, you pay

Written By: - Date published: 8:53 am, December 4th, 2013 - 34 comments

The proponents of Public-Private Partnerships offer two justifications for the extra cost compared to normal government financing: 1) a mystical claim that the private sector will find efficiencies in a PPP that they wouldn’t find if they were just contracted to build a project normally and 2) risk is shared between the taxpayer and the private investors. Except it’s not.

800,000 referendum votes in already

Written By: - Date published: 7:46 am, December 3rd, 2013 - 41 comments

John Key set us a challenge on the referendum: get more an a million ‘no’ votes. That would mean more votes against asset sales than National won in 2011. So far, so good. The Electoral Commission has processed 805,204 votes. Doubling that would be an outstanding result that would almost certainly mean a million ‘no’ votes. Get your vote in now.

Over half a million votes received already, have you posted yours?

Written By: - Date published: 7:40 pm, November 29th, 2013 - 63 comments

The Electoral Commission has reported receiving and processing nearly quarter of a million referendum votes per day on Wednesday and Thursday this week. All up, 530,000 votes are in so far – an impressive 17.50% turn out already. That’s far better than you would expect from a council postal ballot at this stage. Now, let’s get the rest in.

Assets sales make Crown a billion poorer

Written By: - Date published: 9:22 am, November 29th, 2013 - 122 comments

In the Budget, the Government said asset sales would increase the net worth of the Crown by half a billion dollars because eager mums and dads were going to snap the shares up for more than they were worth on the government books. As we know, it didn’t quite work out that way. The Greens have updated the Budget and found the impact is $1.5 billion worse than expected.

Democracy under attack in Hawke’s Bay, Nats’ vote at risk

Written By: - Date published: 8:01 am, November 27th, 2013 - 42 comments

I heard Duncan Garner on the radio the other day mocking Napierites’ opposition to being forced into a Hawke’s Bay-wide super-council. ‘Why should there be 2 mayors within 21km of each other?’ he asked. Nah. The question is: ‘why not?’ If they want to keep own having their own council, that they pay for, why should someone else get to take it away? It didn’t used to be possible. National made it possible.

Who wants some Genesis shares?

Written By: - Date published: 7:20 am, November 21st, 2013 - 120 comments

So, Mum and Dad Kiwi, you listened to the multi-million dollar ad campaigns and the years of propaganda from National, and you bought shares in one of their asset sales. How are you doing so far? Don’t listen to English, who claims you haven’t lost anything unless you’ve cashed up – that’s the same as saying your house or your Kiwisaver isn’t worth anything. Let’s look at your losses.

Groser says govt ministers in denial of reality

Written By: - Date published: 7:25 am, November 14th, 2013 - 145 comments

3news has shaken out hidden science denialists in National. This follows the disgraceful booing of Russel Norman by National MPs who did not want to hear him ‘inappropriately’ quote a Filipino official attributing the typhoon to climate change at a time apparently meant for empty platitudes. Meanwhile, the Filipino official that Norman was quoting has written to thank him.

Air NZ sale coming on the quiet

Written By: - Date published: 7:57 pm, November 13th, 2013 - 121 comments

Word is out that National is going to slam through the sale of its Air NZ shares early next week ahead of the referendum. No mention of ‘mum and dad’ investors this time. No ad campaign imploring you get ‘get your share’. Nope. It’ll be a quick and dirty sale to some big institution which will then divvy it up to other institutions. We might not even be told until after the fact.

National’s litany of economic failure

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, November 10th, 2013 - 132 comments

I finally got up the courage to trawl through Tracy Watkins’ hagiography to John Key and found something interesting at the end. The Dom has made a table of main economic and fiscal measures comparing where they are now to where they were in 2008 and, crucially, where they were projected to be now in the forecasts Treasury made immediately after National came to power. It’s a list of National failure.

English says higher wages mean better results

Written By: - Date published: 9:01 am, November 7th, 2013 - 52 comments

National’s been working hard to keep wages down for the 5 years. They’ve weakened union laws, introduced fire at will, opposed $15 minimum wage and the living wage. And it’s worked: 46% of workers got no raise last year, another 18% got less than a 2% raise. 5 years ago, 59% got a raise above 2%. Strangely, though, English says high wages are good for the economy.

National: the party the insurance companies bought

Written By: - Date published: 6:47 am, November 4th, 2013 - 72 comments

National and the Insurance Council are in lock-step in their opposition to KiwiAssure. That’s no coincidence, the two are very closely linked. We know that the Insurance Council’s head was Bill English’s Chief Advisor. But the links go deeper. The insurers gave National a million dollars for its ACC privatisation policy in 2005, they colluded to keep the details secret.

The Cunliffe bounce

Written By: - Date published: 9:43 am, October 30th, 2013 - 26 comments

Fairfax suffered the double indignity of first having its poll contradicted by One News’ hours later and then Key himself mocking the idea that National is on 50%. Still rogue polls happen. That’s statistics. We can look through the variation in single polls by comparing the 6 After David polls to their 6 Before Cunliffe predecessors to see if there really has been a Cunliffe bounce.

SkyCity deal gets sleazier

Written By: - Date published: 11:40 am, October 23rd, 2013 - 14 comments

It raised a few eyebrows when the Catholic Church appeared to back the SkyCity deal. Seamus Donegan appeared before the select committee for the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, saying they couldn’t find a link between pokies and problem gambling. Turns out that Donegan’s submission was the opposite of the Commission’s real position, and he’s National MP Sam Lotu-Iiga’s electorate chair.

What a major oil spill means for NZ

Written By: - Date published: 9:35 am, October 23rd, 2013 - 47 comments

Greenpeace has released scientific modelling of what would happen if a major oil well blowout (like Deepwater Horizon) were to occur at either of the sites were Anadarko is preparing to start deepwater drilling. It shows the dramatic size that a spill could reach, affecting beaches and fisheries. And, remember, our response force for such an event is three dinghies.

“Do we want to play Russian roulette with two bullets or one?”

Written By: - Date published: 9:54 am, October 22nd, 2013 - 68 comments

Lord Nicolas Stern, who wrote a ground-breaking report on the economic costs of climate change against the costs of stopping it (conclusion: stopping it is cheap compared to the cost of not), has changed his mind. Climate change is getting worse, faster, and heading to worse results than he thought. It’s no longer a matter of avoiding disaster, but how bad it gets.

The red tide rising

Written By: - Date published: 11:59 am, October 20th, 2013 - 40 comments

National led the combined Labour+Green vote for 76 successive Roy Morgan polls. But how times have changed. The Left’s led 10 of the last 14 polls, and all the last five. With solid vision, policies, and a credible candidate for PM, the Left finally has the goods to win. Watch for the cracks to appear in the Nats as they position for a post-Key future.

Stopping casinos hurting our communities

Written By: - Date published: 7:53 am, October 18th, 2013 - 97 comments

Imagine if cigarette makers gave out free packs to target groups to get them hooked and if you were trying to quit smoking and you had a ‘loyalty’ card with your cigarette maker then, when they noticed you had stopped making purchases, they sent you a free pack. That’s what casinos do. Freebies are used to hook people into gambling and keep them hooked. The Greens will stop them.

Double Dipton’s doublethink

Written By: - Date published: 12:48 pm, October 17th, 2013 - 41 comments

Bill English praised the Cullen Fund on its 10th anniversary yesterday. He noted it has achieved an average return of 8.84%, well above its target. He failed to mention that he opposed the Fund being created and that he suspended contributions to the Fund at the worst possible time.  And he still doesn’t want to resume them for 7 years.

Where did Mighty River get that spare $50m?

Written By: - Date published: 7:57 am, October 16th, 2013 - 44 comments

So, Mighty River Power has so much spare cash at the moment that it just doesn’t know what to do with it. Rather than pay out a special dividend, they’re going to buy back some shares. This, naturally, has raised eyebrows because these shares were only just sold to ‘mum and dad’. But the bigger question is: where did Mighty River get a spare $50m in the first place?

Restarting Cullen Fund contributions

Written By: - Date published: 10:59 am, October 9th, 2013 - 56 comments

Stopping contributions to the Cullen Fund was always going to stand out as one of John Key and Bill English’s most economically inept decisions. They chose to stop the Fund buying assets just when they were at decades low prices, Crown borrowing was cheap, and markets were already recovering. The cost in just four years: $2.5 billion. And rising.

$1.6 million a week lost net dividends from Meridian

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, October 7th, 2013 - 12 comments

The asset sales costs just keep on rising. The tally so far is $124 million. The ‘buy now, pay later’ scheme for Meridian is going to cost $61 million. There will be tens of millions in other sales costs. Now, the Greens have calculated the lost net dividends from Meridian alone at $1.6 million per week. Makes the referendum seem like a good investment in telling Key this is not OK.

National playing catch-up on affordable housing

Written By: - Date published: 8:06 am, October 4th, 2013 - 58 comments

Earlier this year, National attacked the Greens’ Progressive Ownership housing policy, a ‘rent-to-own’ scheme that effectively gives first homebuyers access to the Crown’s low cost of capital. Nat fanboi John Armstrong said “It is a dog of a policy. It should be put out of its misery”. Now, National’s nicked it. The problem is, they’re just doing it on a token scale.

We’re really stuffing up, aren’t we?

Written By: - Date published: 7:58 am, September 29th, 2013 - 54 comments

The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report makes, well, pretty damn depressing reading. Over a century after the basic mechanism of global warming by greenhouse gases was understood, and quarter of a century since the world’s nations signed the framework convention on climate change, emissions are still rising and the outlook is getting worse.

I guess this just shows the Right doesn’t have a monopoly on arseholes

Written By: - Date published: 8:11 am, September 27th, 2013 - 34 comments

The other day, I wrote a piece on Poto Williams’ selection to be Labour’s candidate in the Christchurch East by-election. I promptly had to ban a commenter who assumed her selection was due to a quota – ie. a woman Cook Islander can’t possibly win on her own merit. Unfortunately, it seems The Standard sets higher, um, standards than The Herald, which published a similar argument by Damien Rogers today.

Have the Nats been at the insanity peppers?

Written By: - Date published: 6:57 am, September 23rd, 2013 - 23 comments

Selling Mighty River shares was bad enough: $66m taxpayer dollars spent on selling shares with a dividend yield of 6% (the total shareholder return for the Crown last year was 11%) to avoid borrowing at 4% . That’s spending money to lose money. Not crazy enough, apparently. For the Meridian sale, they’ve doubled down. The cost will be $100m and they’ll be selling shares with a dividend yield of 8%.

Labour chooses Poto Williams for Christchurch East

Written By: - Date published: 4:19 pm, September 21st, 2013 - 57 comments

Labour has selected Poto Williams to be its candidate for Christchurch East. I hadn’t heard of her before but a few phone calls has convinced me she’ll be a great candidate and a great MP. It’s fantastic to see a Maori woman being selected for a general roll seat in a open competition with people from a variety of backgrounds. That shows it’s a meritocratic system.

You’re paying for interest-free loans to foreign bankers

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, September 19th, 2013 - 89 comments

You will have heard of this ‘buy now, pay later’ plan that the Nats have to try to save the Meridian sale. Pay 60% of your shares’ price up front, the remaining 40% in 18 months. It’s an interest-free loan, funded by higher government borrowing. What we didn’t know is this outrageous fact: this taxpayer-funded interest-free loan will be extended to foreign banks

Colin James on the asset sales referendum & Nats’ economic record

Written By: - Date published: 10:25 am, September 10th, 2013 - 17 comments

Colin James takes on Key over the asset sales referendum, savaging the economic argument for sales. Then he turns to National’s other big financial markets call – suspending contributions to the Cullen Fund James discovers its cost us a lot of money. What James doesn’t recognise is that asset sales and suspending the Cullen Fund payments were never about what’s best for NZ.

Cunliffe’s vision

Written By: - Date published: 8:06 am, September 9th, 2013 - 128 comments

Just a few days of hustings to go, and next Monday we’ll have a new Labour leader. David Cunliffe looks home and hosed: the polls show he’s favoured by Labour supporters and, importantly, the wider public; the only unions to declare a preference have backed him; and there’s a steady trickle of MPs swapping to get themselves on the right side of history. He’s done it by offering what Labour’s lacked: vision.

National’s asset sales cost $124m + $2.3m per week

Written By: - Date published: 7:26 am, September 4th, 2013 - 31 comments

National says that $9m is too expensive for you to have your democratic say on asset sales (that’s less than the budget for Pike River re-entry, which everyone supports even though it’s unlikely to recover bodies). What National doesn’t want to you now is that they’ve spent at least $124m on the asset sales so far, and the foregone net profits from Mighty River is running at $2.3m a week.

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