If Labour and the Greens were talking about nationalising the dairies or taking over the factories, I could understand their cries of ‘protect property rights’ but, actually, Labour and the Greens aren’t nationalising anything, they’re just changing the system that National invented in the 1990s. And the companies that will lose profits are government creations.
Now, take a gander at the current ownership of the electricity companies and what it would look like post-asset sales (assuming National’s projection of 33% to foreign institutions, 33% to local institutions, and 33% to ‘mum and dad’)
Two-thirds of the companies are currently government-owned, a further 15%+ is foreign-owned. Only 1% is owned by small ‘mum and dad’ retail investors.
Post asset sales projected ownership:
If the asset sales go the way National expects, the gentailers will still 35%+ government-owned, with foreign ownership making up a further 25%. Only 10% will be owned by ‘mum and dad’.
So, why are National and the Right pitching a fit at the prospect of the Crown and foreign institutions losing superprofits when that’s the price of households and businesses getting lower power prices? Real businesses are looking forward to paying less for power but National says ‘stuff them, we’re looking out for the Crown’s stealth tax and Origin Energy’s profits’.
It’s mad. Well, it would be mad if the Right actually believed in helping business. If the Right was about helping business it would be against all rent-seeking in the non-tradable sector, whether it’s the Crown and Origin exploiting the electricity market for super-profits or ‘investors’ riding the housing and rural property markets for tax-free capital gains, because this rent-seeking is vampirism that sucks the life out of the economy, increases our foreign debt, drives up our exchange rates, kills jobs.
But National’s not against these things, are they? No. Because they don’t stand for a more efficient, wealthier economy. They stand for protecting the interests of the elite, protecting the status quo, no matter how stuffed the status quo might be, no matter how much it hurts businesses and Kiwi families.
Update: Now, the Right’s line is becoming ‘first they came for the electricity companies’ superprofits…’ and insinuating that next Labour and the Greens will nationalise the foreign-owned supermarket duopoly. (Because sorting out that broken market would be so awful). Of course, it means no such thing. The electricity market needs fixing. Families and businesses oughtn’t be paying superprofits to the Crown and foreign investors. NZ Power will deliver that. And the market and the Right know it. That’s why they’re trying to scare up the ‘threat’ that other broken markets will be fixed.