web analytics

Buy it back

Written By: - Date published: 1:07 pm, April 28th, 2008 - 21 comments
Categories: assets, privatisation - Tags: ,

I see that the Wellington lines network has been sold. Given the network has been in in the hands of foreign investors before I can’t see a sustainable argument for blocking the sale as the Auckland Airport bid was blocked. I do think the government should have bought it back. Electricity is too important to be left to a competitive model and in my opinion the government should be taking every opportunity to return the electricity sector to public ownership and then move to re-regulate it to work cooperatively. Buy it back.

21 comments on “Buy it back ”

  1. I so agree with you.

  2. Draco TB 2

    Was wondering what they would do but aren’t surprised that it wasn’t blocked. This lack of action shows a complete lack of understanding of the free-market and why something as critical as power should never have been sold in the first place. Competitive markets can’t help infrastructure investment simply because there can’t be any competition without making it cost far more and be far more inefficient.

  3. Dark Watcher 3

    Yeah and crash the economy. Idiots. Communism failed in Russia what makes you think it will work here?

  4. insider 4

    SOrry are you talking about the Wellington lines network formerly owned by Vector, a 75% community owned business that has chosen to sell its assets which it bought from NGC an Australian owned company I believe, and the same Vector that got done for anti competitive pricing against Wellington customers?

    ANd you want to put it back into public ownership?

    ANy concerns about the large chunks of NI lines owned by Powerco that Australian company? Nope, didn;t think so.

  5. IrishBill 5

    Insider, I would happily have powerco lines bought back. My point is that when the opportunities arrive (in this case because Vector has taken on too much debt) the government should take them.

    The anti-competitive practices you describe happened after deregulation of the market and, I would argue, were the direct result of the environment that deregulation created.

  6. Matthew Pilott 6

    Dark Watcher – too dim for words; you can’t distinguish communism from any other type of collectivism or public ownership?

    And everyone knows that communism would have worked in post-war England, Russia was a backward aristocracy, destroyed by war and turned into a backwards communist state – worst possible candidate! Now, England, what with rationing and ‘mustn’t grumble’ – they’d have made it work.

    I hope Labour can articulate some form of policy of buying assets, that should be publicly owned, when they’re available such as in this instance – although if National will sell them off when they get the chance, NZ will be setting itself up to be suckered time and time again – this needs to be managed in a better fashion than is currently possible.

  7. insider 7


    The anticompetitive practices were actually directly mirroring what went on before deregulation (ie prices fixed to pander to electorates) and were carried out by an arm of local government, showing how farcical the regular beat up of foreign shareholders is when you have just as evil aucklanders in control.

    What is Powerco doing wrong that makes you want to take on their business? Why not leave them to it and let shareholders wear the risks not taxpayers.

    You criticise National for diverting money from other activities to fund tax cuts. Isn’t spending $750m on the Wellington lines network taking money similarly? And to what end? to subsidise Wellington power prices? What other benefits would there realistically be?

    It seems a kneejerk ‘buy it’ response more at home in a Monopoly game than to any market failure.

  8. randal 8

    intially it was sold because the “london Market” would not give ‘someone’ a loan to erect westpac stadium way back when so I guess it is just a pawn in someone elses game now.

  9. Felix 9

    Insider asks “to what end?”.
    To my mind the correct question is “why on earth was it ever sold?”

    If it WERE a Monopoly game however, it would be a waste of money – that and the waterworks.

  10. Not blocking the sale of the Wellington electricity network is proof of the Labour led governments hypocrisy and political opportunism. Is anything a more strategic asset than the electricity network that supplies the countries political hub? Is a company linked to the Chines communist regime in some way a safer owner than a Canadian pension fund ? Laughable.

  11. Macro 11

    Electricity Networks are an important factor in assessing the national power of a country. In the WWII the allies spent thousands of lives attempting to disrupt the Electrical Networks of Germany and vice versa. When this country sold off our Electrical Networks to overseas interests we effectively gave away our controlling interest in a vital piece of public infrastructure. All an overseas company controlling our Electricity supplies is concerned about is making a quick buck – as Vector have admitted in commenting on the sale – “our stakeholders have done well out of this sale.” What happens if NZ finds itself at odds with the country from which our Electrical Providers are based? Where do does the Company sit then? And why should an overseas company be interested in capital expenditure to improve supply networks? Toll have shown NO interest in improving our rail network.

  12. Lines companies aren’t competitive. They are monopolies. That’s why a mechanism to regulate their pricing was constructed after the initial Max Bradford market-faith explosion.

    I see no reason why a foreign investor buying a monopoly in order to extract monopoly rents from Kiwis is in any way desirable. It isn’t ‘investment’ at all. “Businesses” (I use the term loosely here) like this one should be owned by the fund that pays our pensions, or the users of the service supplied…..not people from other countries.

    I still haven’t forgiven Max Bradford for cutting my community-owned Kapiti power dividends in half in the 1990s and handing the balance to (then) foreign-owned Contact Energy. That was theft right out of my pocket.

  13. insider 13

    The vast majority of the electricity industry is either owned by the state or community owned trusts.


    Vector have arguably been underinvesting and have been ripping of Wellington customers to favour Aucklanders. I don’t recall Powerco facing similar accusations. Which one is locally owned and which one foreign?

    And I’m not sure if your WW2 analogies are that relevant, unless you think the Chinese are up to something…

  14. milo 14

    Canada bad, China good. Eh? … Wot? Garn … get out of here.

    The argument that Auckland Airport and Vector Lines are not comparable would only be persuasive to somebody who’d had a political lobotomy.

  15. Jum 15

    who is siobahn?

    She just called me a liar on Colin Espiner’s blog.

  16. IrishBill 16

    “The vast majority of the electricity industry is either owned by the state or community owned trusts.”

    Yes insider, but they work as separate entities and often in competition with each other. My argument is that they need to be brought back together into one publicly owned system that works cooperatively and not for profit.

  17. insider 17


    What you want is central planning and a socialist model for power – why that would work when it has been an enduring economic failure wherever it has been tried? Profit and markets are really important to send signals regarding need and efficiency, as much in electricity as in any other essential such as food, petrol, water.

    Central planning has been tried and not necessarily been that successful with high levels of over investment, some significant inefficiencies in our system as well as political interference. Both of which mean someone pays more than they should do. Not all of it was bad either. But what’s good for an engineer is not necessarily good for consumers.

    YOu’d be better selling off portions of the SOEs to get more financial discipline into their operations, and remove some of the sometimes overt political pressure exerted on them.

  18. IrishBill 18

    Insider, it didn’t fail as a model for electricity prior to deregulation. I wouldn’t say the same model was needed for food or petrol because they are not natural monopolies (or in the case of generation and the grid a series of geographic monopolies). I would say that water should be owned by the public because it too relies on a series of local monopolies. As does telecommunications (but don’t get me started on that!)

    In short it takes a lot more capital investment to reproduce the infrastructure needed for water and electricity than it does to do so for food or petrol. The other thing about power is that efficient generation relies on proper communication between generators and balancing the type of generation according to peaks and troughs. With more and more wind coming on-line this will become even more important (wind generation having no reserve capacity). Efficient transportation of power also relies on balancing generation with line-capacity. I figure the best way to do this is to have the whole lot under one roof and working as one integrated system. The problem with that is if it’s privately owned it becomes the mother of all monopolies.

  19. insider 19

    I understand your point and it is superficially attractive but it doesn’t recognise that such an approach has led to major over investment in capacity because they were elegant engineering solutions or because the planners got the numbers seriously wrong. There are lines in New Zealand that are nowhere near capacity 30 years after they were built.

    Central planning meant Whirinaki was built about as far away from where it is needed and arguably it was not a great investment anyway.

    Central planning is also undermining plans for a $400m Rodney plant which would prevent the need for Transpower’s $1 billion line upgrade through the Waikato. That’s an issue for everyone in New Zealand because we will all pay part of the cost of those pylons, no matter where you live, because the costs are socialised, whereas Genesis would wear the costs of Rodney and have to recover it in a competitive market.

    The system is operated centrally by Transpower, and they do a great job. But they have not been so great as an asset owner and planner see the Auckland 06 power cut which appears to me to have been a failure of design and risk management, let alone maintenance.

    This then raises another risk. Centralising the system means you could sacrifice the benefits of specialisation and have trade offs made due to management preference and knowledge rather than customer need.

  20. IrishBill 20

    Insider, you seem to have mistaken cooperative planning for “think big” style single-point generation and distance transmission. There is nothing inherent in a single entity, publicly owned electricity system that discounts more localised generation and shorter transmission. There is however a systematic flaw in a profit-driven competitive model that leads to underinvestment.

    On the matter of your Rodney example you know very well that the Rodney generation proposal was for gas powered generation and is not based on renewable energy. If anything that particular push for non-renewable generation represents the short-term thinking of the competitive model.

  21. Draco TB 21

    There are lines in New Zealand that are nowhere near capacity 30 years after they were built.

    And why is this a problem?

    see the Auckland 06 power cut which appears to me to have been a failure of design and risk management, let alone maintenance.

    No, that was a consequence of them having to turn a profit for their shareholders rather implementing needed infrastructure at a reasonable cost as a benefit to the community.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Bill to transform drinking water safety passes
    The Government today passed legislation that will transform drinking water safety and improve environmental outcomes for our wastewater and stormwater networks. “The Water Services Act gives Taumata Arowai the legal authority to carry out its duties as New Zealand’s dedicated water regulator. This represents a major transformational advance for the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor to travel to Europe and US to support economic re...
    Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor will travel to Europe and the United States on Thursday this week to advance New Zealand’s trade and economic interests with key partners, including representing New Zealand at the G20 Trade Ministers’ Meeting in Italy. It follows recent engagement between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 hours ago
  • Asia New Zealand Foundation Chair and Board members announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Dame Fran Wilde, DNZM, QSO, as the new Chair to the Board of the Asia New Zealand Foundation – Te Whītau Tūhono. “Dame Fran Wilde has been a trustee since 2019 and I am confident that her experience and deep ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • Latest KiwiSaver Annual Report shows promising benefits for members
    The latest KiwiSaver Annual Report from the Financial Markets Authority (FMA), highlights how Government’s recent policy tweaks have positively benefitted New Zealanders, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Dr David Clark said today. “Fourteen people so far have withdrawn their funds early thanks to a rule modification made in March this year. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Reasons for permitted travel across Alert Level boundary expanded
    From 11:59pm tonight additional reasons for permitted travel will be introduced for movement across the Auckland boundary, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says. “As this outbreak has shown Delta is highly transmissible, and in order to be confident of controlling its spread, restrictions at the Alert Level boundary have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Tenancy measures introduced to further support COVID-19 impacted businesses and tenants
    The Government has introduced changes to help ease the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on both commercial and residential tenancies. As part of the COVID-19 Response Legislation Bill introduced to Parliament, measures are being taken to help businesses resolve disputes over commercial rent, as well as provide greater certainty for landlords ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    11 hours ago
  • Details of interest deductibility rules released
    The Government has released the draft legislation outlining the details of the policy limiting the deductibility of interest costs on residential property investments. Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the interest limitation proposals, announced in March, aim to stem investor demand for existing residential properties. They do not affect the main ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • GPS sets long-term direction for housing, urban development
    The Government has today laid out its long-term vision for housing and urban development in Aotearoa New Zealand, ensuring we have the infrastructure and homes needed to nurture thriving communities in the decades to come. The Housing Minister Megan Woods says the Government Policy Statement on Housing and Urban Development (GPS-HUD) ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • Government welcomes collaboration between Vector and X
    A move by Vector to form a strategic collaboration with X, (formerly Google X) to work together on the virtualisation of the Auckland electricity grid highlights the type of innovation that can help decarbonise and decentralise the electricity system, says Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods. “The visualisation of New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • PM farewells Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy
    The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy completes her five year term as Governor-General of New Zealand today. “Today marks the end of an eventful term of office for Dame Patsy and I want to acknowledge and thank her for her tireless service to New Zealand over the last five years,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • Government delivers on improving health and equity outcomes for women
    ACC cover for maternal childbirth injuries Government working to improve and strengthen maternity services The Government is laying the foundations for a better future by improving equity and health outcomes for women through amending ACC legislation and an updated Maternity Action Plan. “Amongst a suite of changes, we’re proposing to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Speech at launch of the Dementia Economic Impact Report
    E nga mana E nga reo E nga iwi Tēna kotou katoa Ka huri ki nga mana whenua o te rohe nei. Tēna koutou. He mihi hoki ki a tatou kua tau mai nei I raro I te kaupapa o te rā. No reira tēna koutou katoa Acknowledgements Thank you ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Backing world-class innovation in New Zealand
    $12 million Government investment to support cutting-edge R&D in New Zealand by international businesses Dawn Aerospace and Merlin Labs join Innovative Partnership’s Airspace Integration Trials programme MOU signed with Air New Zealand to conduct a nationwide feasibility study into sustainable aviation fuels The Government is propelling cutting-edge innovation through a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • One-way quarantine free travel dates confirmed for RSE scheme
    From 4 October RSE workers from Vanuatu can begin arriving into New Zealand From 12 October RSE workers Samoa and Tonga from can begin arriving into New Zealand As part of a programme of work to reopen our borders and reconnect with the world, the Government has announced quarantine free ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • More community grants to support youth mental wellbeing
    The Government continues to make more mental health and wellbeing supports available to young people to ensure services are there when and where they need them, Health Minister Andrew Little says. “More than twenty community-led projects have now received a funding boost through The Youth Mental Wellbeing Fund to keep ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Self-isolation pilot to start with 150 people
    The goal of safely re-opening our borders and developing new ways for people to travel will start with a self-isolation pilot, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. “As part of the Reconnecting New Zealanders plan announced in August, the self-isolation pilot will look at self-isolation for vaccinated travellers who ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Poroporoaki: Waka Joseph Nathan
    E Waka e, kei hea ra koe, kua ngaro nei i te iwi e, E kawe nei i ngā rongo, i ngā mahara mōu, i ngā wawata i hua mai i a koe. E Waka e, haere ra, kei te tuahu koe o te ati a toa, Kei poho tonu ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Canterbury school students get hands-on with food and fibre careers
    Secondary school students in Canterbury will have the breadth of food and fibre careers showcased to them thanks to a new initiative launched today, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said. Secondary School Employer Partnerships (SSEP) Canterbury is a collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries and SmartNZ, a charitable trust that connects ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Tuvalu language revival and COVID-19
    Te Vaiaso o te Gana Tuvalu 2021 - Tuvalu Language Week moves online due to the uncertainty around COVID-19 said the Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.  “However it is a timely reminder of the power of embracing both traditional and new ways of doing things. It has been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Strengthened reporting will improve abortion and sterilisation services
    Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall has announced new data and reporting regulations which will help improve abortion and sterilisation services in New Zealand, by painting a clearer picture of the need in our communities. “The Government is committed to ensuring everyone who needs to access abortion services can, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • United Nations General Assembly: 76th General Debate Statement
    E ngā Mana, e ngā Reo, Rau Rangatira mā o tēnei Whare Nui o te Ao Prestigious people, Speakers of note, Chiefs one and all of this General Assembly Ngā mihi mahana ki o koutou katoa, mai i toku Whenua o Aotearoa Warm greetings to you all from my home ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • APEC 2021 Women and the Economy Forum prioritises women’s economic empowerment
    Minister for Women Jan Tinetti today chaired the virtual APEC 2021 Women and the Economy Forum, which is working to address outstanding issues for women and girls across the region as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The forum brought together Ministers and representatives from 21 economies to discuss gender ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government invests in restoring iconic South Canterbury river valleys
    The Government is investing up to $18.4 million over four years to create jobs and help restore braided river valleys, alpine and pastoral lands in the South Island as part of its Jobs for Nature programme Land Information Minister, Damien O’Connor announced. Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Upper Hauraki to move to Alert Level 2
    Upper Hauraki will move to Alert Level 2 from 11:59pm tomorrow, 25 September, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. After positive cases were detected in the Upper Hauraki area on Sunday, extra Alert Level restrictions were put in place to immediately prevent any wider transmission of the virus.  “We’ve ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Report into Aotearoa New Zealand’s export controls system released
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today welcomed the findings of an independent review into Aotearoa New Zealand’s export controls system, which regulates the export of goods to foreign militaries, police forces or paramilitaries. Produced by David Smol, a former Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New District Court Judge appointed
    Attorney-General David Parker has announced the appointment of Brett Crowley of Wellington as a District Court Judge.  He is currently the Wellington Public Defender and started his career as a staff solicitor working in a range of litigation including criminal defence work. He went to the bar in 1999 specialising ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Mental health stocktake shows strong progress
    The first report of the Government’s Implementation Unit has found strong progress has been made since the Mental Health and Addictions Package was announced in 2019. “The report notes most initiatives funded in the Budget 2019 package are on track to deliver what is expected by 2023/24,” Grant Robertson said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Working together to grow the West Coast
    A project that has been crucial in allowing businesses to continue during the tourism downturn is among a number of initiatives to receive a boost from the Government’s Jobs For Nature programme, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. Sustaining South Westland is an extension of an initiative set up last year ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Next steps to improve safety in wake of Whakaari White Island tragedy
    The Government is moving to improve safety in light of the Whakaari White Island tragedy and has released proposals to reinforce safety standards in registered adventure activities. The package of proposals includes: Strengthening requirements for how operators, landowners and the regulator manage natural hazard risks Improving how risks are monitored, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand donates more COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX and the Pacific
    Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta and Associate Health Minister Aupito William Sio announced today that New Zealand is donating additional Pfizer vaccines to the Pacific and AstraZeneca vaccines to the COVAX Facility, to support equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. “New Zealand is donating 708,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Speech to the Property Council of New Zealand
    Kia ora koutou katoa   Is it a pleasure to be able to speak with you today, and to be able to answer some questions you may have. I would like to acknowledge the organisers of this event, the Property Council. The theme of this year’s conference is City Shapers. Together ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Additional MIQ for Christchurch
    An additional hotel will be added to our network of managed isolation and quarantine facilities, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “I have approved and Cabinet is in the final stages of signing off The Quality Hotel Elms in Christchurch as a new managed isolation facility,” Chris Hipkins said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • NZ COVID-19 response earns another major digital investment
    Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications Dr David Clark welcomes Amazon’s Web Services’ (AWS) decision to establish a Cloud Region on New Zealand shores, further boosting New Zealand’s growing digital sector, and providing a vote of confidence in the direction of New Zealand’s economic recovery. “Amazon is the second ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand invests in cutting edge cancer R&D
    Scaling up the manufacture of CAR T-cell cancer therapy for clinical trials Advancing New Zealand’s biomedical manufacturing capability Supporting future international scientific collaborations Transforming cancer care with targeted, affordable solutions Research, Science and Innovation Minister Hon Dr Megan Woods has announced that the fight against COVID-19 will not stop the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Expert group appointed to lead New Zealand’s future health system
    An outstanding group of people with extensive and wide-ranging governance and health experience have been appointed to lead the Māori Health Authority and Health New Zealand, Health Minister Andrew Little says. “This Government is building a truly national health system to provide consistent, high-quality health services right across the country. This ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Funding to help clean up contaminated sites
    The Government is supporting the clean-up of contaminated sites in Northland, Dunedin and Southland to reduce risk to people’s health and protect the environment. Environment Minister David Parker said the funding announced today, through the Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund, will help us turn previously hazardous sites into safe, usable public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Predator Free apprenticeships open up new job opportunities
    The expansion of a predator free apprenticeship programme is an opportunity for more people to kick-start a conservation career, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “The Predator Free Apprenticeship Programme is focused on increasing the number of skilled predator control operators in New Zealand through a two-year training programme. “The Trust ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Further NCEA support confirmed for Auckland students
    The number of Learning Recognition Credits for senior secondary school students will be increased for Auckland students, Education Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. This recognises the extended time these students will spend in Alert Levels 3 and 4. “It means students in Auckland will have a fair opportunity to attain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Long-term pathway next step to better mental wellbeing for New Zealanders
    The Government is taking a new approach to support people who experience mental distress, Health Minister Andrew Little says. “Kia Manawanui Aotearoa – Long-term pathway to mental wellbeing (Kia Manawanui) is the first 10-year plan of its kind that targets the cause of mental distress and also sets out how ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Keeping our Police safe to keep our communities safe
    The Government is committed to keeping our frontline police officers safe, so they in turn can keep New Zealanders safe – with one of the largest investments in frontline safety announced by Police Minister Poto Williams at the Police College today.   The $45 million investment includes $15.496 million in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago