Cheekygames: Privatisation comes to a blue suburb

Written By: - Date published: 9:42 am, January 24th, 2016 - 18 comments
Categories: business, Economy, Privatisation - Tags:

Reprinted from Cheekygames.

Since National came to power after the 2008 election, it has become increasingly clear that John Key’s government, unduly influenced, aided, and abetted by the bantamweight ACT party, intends to cleave mindlessly to the ideology that essential government services and functions must be privatized.

Consider the ‘partnership’ (charter) schools and the many individual problems and messes we’ve heard about virtually as soon as they started opening in the wake of National’s 2011 confidence and supply agreement with ACT. At a macro level, when special education and gifted student programs are desperate for funding, school pools are closing, school camps cancelled, and child poverty with its pernicious effect on educability is worsening, it is fundamentally unfair that charter school students get funded as much as 500% more than their public school cohort. And we don’t even know if the charter schools could be doing a 500% better job than public schools, because Education Minister Parata quashed a plan to compare their performance.

At the micro level, in the National stronghold of the coastal suburbs of the Tamaki electorate anyway, the charter school argument doesn’t seem to engage residents. After all, these are people with the means to send their children to exclusive private schools if they deem their local decile 10 public school to be somehow lacking.

Likewise was their outrage in the wake of revelations of prisoner abuse at Mt Eden Prison muted. While even the likes of Patrick Gower was expressing disgust at Serco’s negligence, behind the gates of their expansive properties, whose value escalates with each passing month, these citizens would have been among those continuing to rate National’s stewardship highly. A life of crime, after all, is something that befalls other, different people in other, different suburbs, and those people deserve the consequences of their life choices. Even when the reality of those suburbs is just two kilometers to the south to behold, it is Key who knows best, Key who gets the preferred Prime Minister tick, even when he makes theatre-of-the-absurd arguments that the Mt Eden situation, far from being an unprecedented fiasco, actually underscored the advantages of working with private sector providers. Key even said Serco could re-apply for the contract to run Mt Eden when it comes up for tender again in 2017.

So regardless of the consequences and evading both systemic accountability and deserved criticism from the very constituents whose opinion might matter, National’s privatisation agenda marches on. However, it is possible their next target, while seemingly more modest than a school or a prison, is a lot closer to home for their well-heeled Tamaki constituents. How will these entitled residents reconcile their cognitive dissonance as the government and leaders they worship shut down their beloved St Heliers Post Shop, shunting some of its essential services to the Take Note shop a few doors down?

Tamaki MP Simon O’Connor certainly won’t be leading the opposition to NZ Post’s plans. He has been lobbying merely “to have the services remain” and considers Take Note’s acquiescence “a positive result (from what could have happened!)” This comment seems very rich in light of the fact that NZ Post is contractually obliged to provide their essential services in a discrete number of locations.

The St Heliers Post Shop has been a distinctive part of village life for decades, a feature, along with the public library, distinguishing St Heliers from Kohimarama and Mission Bay. What sort of business would occupy the premises in its stead? Yet another overpriced cafe with mediocre fare?

NZ Post is a state-owned enterprise. Presumably the distinction between that status and any other ordinary business is that the needs of the population it serves should be weighted at least as heavily as profit motive in the formulation of its business model. NZ Post’s after tax profit of $110 million for 2013/14 suggests it’s not circling the drain just yet. It may need to change to survive the times, but foisting its duties on Take Note and the like is a risky and unproven gambit. How will Take Note be accountable to the public if it does a bad job? What if it goes belly up or becomes otherwise unable to continue providing service?

The post shop is scheduled to close in late June. It will be interesting to see if the people of St Heliers will now come together to insist that the state remain a meaningful part of this enterprise.

Julia Schiller.

Anyone interested in the campaign to save the St Heliers Post Shop can follow events via its Facebook page.

18 comments on “Cheekygames: Privatisation comes to a blue suburb”

  1. Rae 1

    SOEs will become a thing of the past with rules contained in the TPPA. Another reason to be very afraid of that thing, it will cement right wing economic policies regardless of what the public might want to vote for in the future

  2. Colonial Viper 3

    Maybe the people of St Heliers could appeal to Sir Michael Cullen, chair of the NZ Post board and former Labour Deputy Prime Minister.

    I’m sure being through and through Labour, that he understands the importance of keeping local services in local communities, right?

    • Keith 3.1

      I see Colonial Viper, Labour are to blame. 101 National tactic albeit a little 2015 don’t you think?

      • greywarshark 3.1.1

        Don’t be wet Keith. Sir Michael Cullen, chair of NZ Post Board, purported to believe in Labour’s supposed mission statement carried forward proudly from the past, could be expected to put the citizen service by government first. You might scorn that as 101 approach. Perhaps you haven;t progressed in your thinking enough for a university course.

        • Colonial Viper

          Maybe Keith thinks that Sir Michael Cullen and the board of NZ Post are somehow blissfully unaware and uninvolved in the closure of NZ Post branches throughout the country.

          Or maybe he thinks that Cullen and Labour should be given a pass on all the neoliberal shit they have done and supported over the last 3 decades.

  3. Tautuhi 4

    The private banks want to eliminate Kiwibank who are the opposition, they have just the man in John Key to satisfy their objectives, more profit for private banks and less services available for NZ citizens, another example of Corporate Greed?

    NZ going to hell in a hand basket?

  4. Nick K 5

    A book shop in Devonport had to close a while ago because ‘e’ books were taking its business. What’s the government supposed to do about that – step in and save it. There’s a thing called email which you may have heard about. I’m not sure the government can stop emails being sent, instead of letters.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      Failed free market dogma still has true believers, that much is obvious from your witless flailing. The question is, do National Party supporters love faith-based market “solutions” when they’re on the receiving end?

      Charter schools and high rise property development opportunities in Epsom, that sort of thing: hypocritical trash on display for all to see.

      Sorry, were you doing your best to divert the discussion on to the shite you believe? Better luck next time.

    • Keith 5.2

      I only wish National would have that puritanical view of the market when it comes to the labour market but they keep sticking their oar in there rather than letting it take it’s natural course to tilt the field in businesses favour!

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2.1

        Legislation and regulation are fundamental aspects of market forces, just like taxation, government spending and revenue. The reason right wing trash hate these things (until they buy some MPs) is that they don’t want citizens to have any power – that is a market force they can’t cope with: they pack a tanty every single time.

        Of course, being lazy hypocrites, they don’t even know they’re doing it.

    • millsy 5.3

      Post shops also handle various bill payment and so on.

  5. greywarshark 6

    There are increasing numbers of cars on the road, and everyone knows that it is not a good thing to sleep on the road but still the drivers who run into such people get taken to task. So you Gnats who want to lie down and let the free market roll over you are counting on the state caring a toss for you. We don’t want to lie down and watch our lives and supports being stolen from us, not like you unprincipled cowards and lax layabouts.

  6. Smilin 7

    All a numbers game but the game Key plays is money numbers not people numbers or supports the value of established govt services with any traits of left leaning politics in the public service
    Key attacks anything that has the slightest bit of left politics. its his party’s MO .
    His Smilin Assassin abilities coming to the fore again pushing privatisation as the only way to run govt services so that they cant be a problem accountable to the people by govt representation
    All hail the free market or get out of jail free card

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