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Transmission Gully to cost $15 per trip

Written By: - Date published: 9:52 am, August 30th, 2013 - 188 comments

If you had $3 billion to spend on transport over 25 years, what would you do with it? Increase spending on cycling facilities six-fold and give all our cities Amsterdam-like sustainable transport? Increase the amount spent on public transport by over a third? Or, build a duplicate motorway for 3% that Wellington’s population will use, at a cost to the taxpayer of $30 per commuter per day

Cost of Mighty River sale keeps on rising

Written By: - Date published: 7:27 am, August 29th, 2013 - 32 comments

National spent $66 million selling Mighty River Power. That’s what it costs to put 750 kids all the way through school. The Greens have done the numbers on Mighty River’s profit announcement to work out the Crown would have a net $2.3 million more per week if it hadn’t sold the shares. That ongoing loss is enough to pay for the education of 18,000 kids.

Who would buy Meridian shares after MRP?

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, August 28th, 2013 - 209 comments

If you invested in Mighty River, you’ve lost 13% of your money so far. The word is the current plunge is prices is institutions selling off in order to force the Meridian listing price lower and Mighty River has a long way to fall yet. But the lower it goes, the less likely ordinary people will be to risk their savings on another privatised power company.

Peak driving & what National’s doing with $12 billion of your money

Written By: - Date published: 9:12 am, August 19th, 2013 - 161 comments

National’s desperately racing to lock in Transmission Gully and the Puhoi to Wellsford Holiday Highway ahead of the election, in case they lose. Those two projects are nearly half of their $12 billion ‘roads of national significance’, 300km of roads costing an outrageous $40,000 per metre. Now, you would think if the Government was spending $12 billion, it would be to meet a growing demand. Think again.

The opportunity cost

Written By: - Date published: 4:33 pm, August 14th, 2013 - 34 comments

National spent $30m of our money to save (some of) the 800 jobs at Tiwai Point (for an extra year). People have reasonably pointed out that’s the a lot of money – especially when government agencies are routinely destroying jobs by sending work overseas over contract prices that save far less. But what about the broader picture: did the Nats consider the opportunity cost?

The convention economy

Written By: - Date published: 9:36 am, July 29th, 2013 - 14 comments

You know it by now, Key, English, and Joyce have said it often enough – National’s formula for the economy is more mining, selling assets, and convention centres. We’re actually making less money from mining now than 5 years ago. Asset sales have been a predictable failure. But we’ve got 3 new convention centres coming, that’ll bring in the international revenue, eh? Nah.

Key fails first home buyers

Written By: - Date published: 7:35 am, July 24th, 2013 - 34 comments

Key’s wringing his hands, saying that the Reserve bank is likely to bring in loan to value ratio requirements without an exception for first home buyers but claiming that first home buyers are still his priority. If that were true, he would have done his part to tackle the real problems in the housing market: speculators, foreign buyers, and lack of affordable home building.

The flat patch

Written By: - Date published: 10:18 am, July 5th, 2013 - 17 comments

I’ve been having a look at the Roy Morgan trend. Oddly, I don’t see this Labour ‘flat patch’ that people are claiming is happening. What is happening is that the Greens are trending slightly down (as it usually does mid-term) and Labour isn’t rising fast enough to offset that. We’re still some way off the safe-zone for Labour+Greens, and the question is whether we’ll get there.

Huge Nat u-turn on City Rail Link

Written By: - Date published: 12:44 pm, June 26th, 2013 - 64 comments

It’s a massive win for the Greens, for Labour, and Auckland. National has caved to the pressure from local government, from business, and from its political opponents. With the polls so close National couldn’t afford to go into 2014 opposing the CRL when Aucklanders want it and the opposition is mobilising it as an issue, including the Greens’ ‘re:connect’ campaign.

Polls and the search for meaning

Written By: - Date published: 12:08 pm, June 26th, 2013 - 80 comments

Imagine if, five times in 18 months, I stuck my head out the window on a random day, made a guess of the temperature that was 95% likely to be 3 degrees or less too high or too low and, then, extrapolated climate change data from my results. You would laugh at me: too much chance and margin of error, not enough data points. Still, that doesn’t stop the Herald.

Who’s Tourism Minister again?

Written By: - Date published: 11:15 am, June 25th, 2013 - 45 comments

Back in 2008, a bright new thing called John Key said that, if he became Prime Minister, he would take the Tourism portfolio. He said “it’s an industry that’s particularly important in maintaining and boosting this country’s employment levels and growth prospects” and “we can do an awful lot better”. International tourism revenue has fallen 20% since 2008.

Houston and the cost of sprawl

Written By: - Date published: 10:15 am, June 16th, 2013 - 51 comments

The Right’s favourite sprawl example at the moment. Sections for $50,000. Wow! But they haven’t asked why new sections in Houston are so cheap. They’ve just assumed its because Houston doesn’t have tight zoning rules. In fact, they do – but their rules encourage sprawl. And, while the land may be cheap, it means much higher living costs – particularly transport.

So, who’s up for buying some shares in Meridian?

Written By: - Date published: 8:59 am, June 5th, 2013 - 40 comments

Mighty River closed at a new low of $2.36 yesterday. Here’s English on the likely take up of the sale of Meridian: “We would expect that it will give New Zealanders the opportunity to invest in a large New Zealand company, and tens of thousands of them are likely to do so.” Tens of thousands. For reference, they expected 250,000 investors in Mighty River but only 113,000 showed up.

Looking up

Written By: - Date published: 8:55 pm, May 29th, 2013 - 138 comments

You can get all excited over every poll you see from people who poll a handful of times a year. You can try to read meaning into every bump and dip to fit your narrative, even if the ‘movements’ are just statistical noise. Or you can look at the trends.


Written By: - Date published: 7:59 am, May 29th, 2013 - 176 comments

So, the latest Fairfax poll isn’t flash for Labour and it’s the same old story of leadership. But don’t get too excited there’s no ‘trend’ in the Fairfax – they’ve polled just three times since the election. We also know that most pollsters have been over polling National for years. Instead, lets ask what the polls show now compared to the immediate pre-election poll.

The myth of ‘mum and dad’ investors

Written By: - Date published: 9:15 am, May 24th, 2013 - 121 comments

The myth that National sold Mighty River Power to ‘mum and dads’ is dead. New analysis shows that half the retail shares went to just 12,844 people. A tiny group of 394 people bought 10% of the retail shares. Only 13.4% of the company is owned by what you might call ‘ordinary Kiwis’ – less than the amount owned by foreign investors. But the truth is, ordinary Kiwis are the 98% who bought nothing.

$38 on highways for every dollar on public transport

Written By: - Date published: 9:49 am, May 21st, 2013 - 44 comments

Key is busy explaining that his petrol tax increase won’t just be funding his pet highway projects – the ‘Roads of National Significance’. He says it’ll go on public transport, too. Well, yeah, maybe. But the truth is that National is slashing public transport funding while pouring massive amounts into the RoNS even as traffic volumes fall and public transport demand rises.

Strong support for NZ Power

Written By: - Date published: 8:10 am, May 16th, 2013 - 56 comments

The Right unleashed the most brutal campaign in living memory against an opposition policy when the Greens and Labour announced the NZ Power plan to bring down power prices. They (rightly) saw it as a challenge to the whole rentier class that has been bleeding NZ dry for quarter of a century. It’s heartening, then, that the Right hasn’t managed to fool people.

Stopping Key’s dirty deal with SkyCity

Written By: - Date published: 9:56 am, May 15th, 2013 - 40 comments

National’s trying to do something unprecendented – they want to give a private company a 35 year indemnity against costs arising from law changes. No-one else gets this. You don’t get money from the government when they make a law that costs you. Nor does any other business. Just SkyCity as part of their dirty deal with Key. Sign the petition to stop it here.

Spin-bustin’: unemployment drop

Written By: - Date published: 9:22 am, May 10th, 2013 - 11 comments

The working age population grows by around 30,000 a year. A bit over two-thirds of them work or want a job. So, to keep unemployment from rising, the economy needs at least 20,000 additional jobs per year. So, the drop in unemployment must mean we did that and some last year, eh? No. Just 8,000 jobs were added last year. Unemployment fell because people dropped out.

Spin-bustin’: new investors scared off MRP

Written By: - Date published: 8:19 am, May 10th, 2013 - 27 comments

The Nats’ spin is that ‘mums and dads’ were scared off investing in Mighty River Power by the Green-Labour NZ Power plan to reduce power prices but sophisticated buyers bought in. Look at the evidence: 80,000 of the 113,000 retail investors are new to the stockmarket and they boost stockmarket participation by 20%. Hence there were 400,000 existing Kiwi shareholders, and less than 10% of them bought in.

RIP Wellington

Written By: - Date published: 9:26 am, May 7th, 2013 - 95 comments

John Key says that Wellington is dying and “we don’t know how to turn it around”. Coupled with Brownlee’s slow suffocation of Christchurch and the Nats’ refusal to unblock Auckland’s transport arteries, its not good news for the major cities. But if Wellington is dying, who killed it? The guy who sacked all the public servants? The guy who killed manufacturing?

Surplus 2014/15: an excuse for not doing what needs doing

Written By: - Date published: 7:50 am, May 6th, 2013 - 30 comments

John Key’s excuse for the planned veto of the extension of paid parental leave is that it would put the 2014/15 surplus at risk. There’s several reasons that’s bullshit, the main one being: why is going just under or just over some arbitrary line in the Crown’s books the Nats’ one aim for the economy? The truth is, Key’s using the surplus as an excuse for not doing the right thing.

Loss of wealth? No, a redistribution of wealth

Written By: - Date published: 8:50 am, April 23rd, 2013 - 29 comments

Eddie explored yesterday who stands to lose from falling asset values in electricity companies resulting from lower power prices. The answer: the Crown and foreign investors. Now, JBWere has estimated those book value losses at up tp $1.4b for Contact and Trustpower, meaning $4b all up. But, despite the cries from the Right, that doesn’t mean wealth is being lost, it’s moving.

Nats trying hide Mighty River risks?

Written By: - Date published: 1:49 pm, April 21st, 2013 - 21 comments

It is absolutely essential for National that lots of ordinary Kiwis buy Mighty River shares. Is that why, as Rod Oram found, there’s no independent advice available to ‘mum and dad’ on the size of the risks? National must have such advice, but it’s keeping it from the public and beating the ‘buy, buy, buy’ drum instead.

Rentiers on notice

Written By: - Date published: 9:06 am, April 20th, 2013 - 36 comments

The Green/Labour NZ Power announcement is a clear warning to the owners of electricity companies that their days of rentier profits are coming to an end. Joyce cries for the declining value of their shares but that fall tells us that the market thinks Labour and the Greens will govern, NZ Power will work, and it will knock hundreds of millions off power bills.

Nats panicking on NZ Power

Written By: - Date published: 7:33 am, April 19th, 2013 - 347 comments

National’s reaction to the Labour/Greens NZ Power announcement was telling. They panicked. There was no genuine critique, just ‘won’t someone think of the shareholders’. The funniest bit was when National tried to say that it is a North Korean idea. In truth, it’s South Korea that has a Single Buyer like NZ Power. And their power prices have fallen while ours have risen.

Key’s power price record

Written By: - Date published: 7:48 am, April 17th, 2013 - 78 comments

Spooked by tomorrow’s joint announcement by Labour and the Greens on policy to cut power prices, National is trying to claim they have solved the problem. Get real. In the past year, household electricity prices rose an average of 5%, that’s over six times the rate of general inflation. By my reckoning, the average power bill has risen 16%, or about $300 a year under Key.

Caveat emptor 2

Written By: - Date published: 6:46 am, April 15th, 2013 - 104 comments

Labour’s put out a release saying power prices are too high and “signalling that the future Labour Government will make changes to the sector so that New Zealanders considering purchasing shares in Mighty River Power, which go on sale tomorrow, are aware of that before investing”. In other words, ‘we’re gonna cut power prices, and the electricity companies’ profits will be hit’.

Key to make GCSB’s illegal spying legal

Written By: - Date published: 7:49 am, April 10th, 2013 - 171 comments

So, the GCSB has been systemically breaking its own law by assisting the SIS and Police to spy on New Zealanders – a clear violation of the GCSB Act and, potentially, the Crimes Act. Key leaked the report revealing this while he was overseas so it would be ‘old news’ by the time he gets back. Now, he’s offered his ‘solution’ – make GCSB’s illegal actions legal, make it legal for the GCSB to spy on you.

Looters’ bonus to cost $40 million

Written By: - Date published: 7:57 am, April 8th, 2013 - 26 comments

Bill English has just admitted to Breakfast (good questioning by Nadine Chalmers-Ross) that the looters’ bonus on Mighty River Power will cost around $40m. You and I can think of many valuable things this government could be doing with $40m, rather than giving it to people who already have thousands in the bank. But that number also tells us something.

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