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Cunliffe kicks arse on asset sales

Written By: - Date published: 8:06 am, August 22nd, 2011 - 95 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, don brash, privatisation - Tags:

At the start of the year, John Key said that he wanted to have a mature debate on asset sales. Now, his Finance Minister and SOE Minister are refusing to front up to debate David Cunliffe on the issue. Instead, that was left to old man Brash on Q+A yesterday. Cunliffe made mincemeat of him. The Right still has no justification for flogging off profitable assets.

The video is here, and below’s part of the transcript:

PAUL  The old bogey – asset sales – the sale of our state-owned enterprises.  It’s going to be one of the big issues probably of this election.  Prime Minister John Key says if National wins in November, they’ll put up for sale 49% of the shares in power companies Genesis, Meridian and Mighty River Power, coal miner Solid Energy and Air New Zealand.  This is proving to be a very difficult sell.  At the start of the year, the Prime Minister had this to say.

JOHN KEY      I think New Zealand’s ready for that grown-up debate about whether we can afford all the things that we’re doing and how we can best fund our future.

PAUL  Eight months on, sad to say, he’s not so keen to have that grown-up debate, because none of his people are coming on today.  We asked State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall to front.  He said no to an interview and no to a debate with David Cunliffe, and he has a rule against debating David Cunliffe, it seems.  Finance Minister Bill English says National has spelled out its policy and he doesn’t see the need to debate the issue on asset sales, so the government is mum.  They are, however, happy to come on if or when they figure out how to ensure Kiwi investors get first dibs on those shares.  We’ve said, well, we’ll hold them to that.  Today instead we’re delighted to have Dr Don Brash with us, the ACT leader, and the supporter of the asset sales.  He joins us in Wellington.  And Labour’s David Cunliffe, who doesn’t think they’re a good idea at all, with Guyon.


DAVID           Well, there certainly is the emotional power it in.  New Zealanders are very clear in what they think, and I can tell you that polling that lines asset sales up against our fair tax package says three to one, people prefer to keep their assets and pay down their debt, while some of Don Brash’s rich white old men who are enjoying their tax cuts are made to pay a capital gains tax, like they should’ve been as he said when he was the governor of the Reserve Bank.


DAVID           Look, I really will insist on finishing this, because Don Brash is in no place to lecture the New Zealand public about populism.  I did not give the Orewa speech; somebody else did.  Now, Mr Brash knows very very well that New Zealanders care about long-term solutions.  They know that selling off the family silver to pay for six months’ worth of government deficit and losing on the—

DON   That’s nonsense, David. You know it.

DAVID           It’s not rhetoric.  I know that there is $300 million in dividends from those assets.  I know that the government will pay around $350 million to the ticket-clippers who will be involved in the sale, and I know that New Zealanders want to see a real game plan that will feed the kids in South Auckland and grow our economy without flogging off the birthright that we are handing down to the next generation.

95 comments on “Cunliffe kicks arse on asset sales ”

  1. Craig Glen Eden 1

    The Nat’s wont want to be on the same Platform as Cunliffe they are scared of him, watch over the next four months as they avoid any thing involving Cunliffe. Brash was stupid enough to believe his own ideology, English knows however he is unable to even give half decent answers as occurred at Nationals own conference (friendly fire). The problem for Bill is sometimes you get killed even with friendly fire.
    Watch out for copious amounts of smile and wave operations and piss all else from National this election. Labour have a hard road in the next four months but with a positive plan for New Zealander’s future they could still pull this out of the fire.

    • Deadly_NZ 1.1

      Sooner or later someone will have to front, and face him. The way they are avoiding debating Cunliffe makes it sound like a death sentence to them. well politically it is, makes you wonder who will draw the short straw.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Cunliffe is part of a strong LAB front bench team; on the other side the NATs have smile and wave and that’s it.

    Sale of our strategic energy assets to foreigners – assets which will become more valuable from now on not less valuable as oil depletion hits harder and harder year by year – is a sell out of our sovereignty.

    The traditional Tory conservatives who back National are starting to realise that National is not a conservative party interested in guiding NZ for the long term – they are in fact a neoliberal party wanting to suck easy profits out of NZ.

    NZ has to own its future.

  3. Lazy Susan 3

    Also watch part 3 of Q&A where the panel debate the issue. Holmes once again puts in an appalling partisan performance. Helen Kelly trounces Michelle Boag and manages to get across some great hits despite Holmes constantly talking across her..

    Also gotta love the piece towards the end of the debate where Boag gets all excited and confesses that “the market” will never invest in major new infrastructure in rail, communications or other strategic assets because we are “too small”. So there we have it from the horses mouth – the government pays the bills and the private owners cream the profits. Watch the righties continue to tie themselves up in knots as they try and justify the unjustifiable on asset sales.

    Loved the empty seat in the studio with the Ryall and English name tags on it. Seemed like an appropriate metaphor for the NActs ideas on the economy. They’ve got to be a bit desperate if all they can wheel out is the dinosaur Brash to do the heavy lifting.

    • handle 3.1

      The best part had to be pearl-wearing Boag comparing selling our national electricity system with sacrificing one’s boat or second house. Talk about out of touch.

    • marsman 3.2

      How come Paul Holmes keeps getting away with his obviously biased attempts at steering the debate. He gets a huge taxpayer funded salary for being an incompetent arsehole, much like most of the National Party.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        He is employed under a TVNZ framework that LAB could have and should have changed to a pure public broadcasting model.

  4. John Dalley 4

    Did notice the Michelle Boag looked like she was sucking on a lemon buring Q & A.
    If she starting to become disallusioned with her great hope Smile & Wave?

  5. Peter 5

    Nothing to lose, Cunliffe on the front-foot is better than any of them. It’s time for him to tour the country a la Winston, to talk up his economic solutions.

  6. tc 6

    It was also a first rate display of what a bunch of partisan nat monkeys Espiner and Holmes are in what’s meant to be a high calibre political issues show without bias….. yeah right.

    • AAMC 6.1

      I loved watching the blood drain fro Holmes’s face as 2/3rds of the panel pummeled his party, and Espiner as he proclaimed “this isn’t a Labour Party speech” as Cunliffe destroyed Brash. Pity only about 100k people watch it.

      And Boag seems very intent that Communism had failed, has nobody pointed out to her that it currently subsidies Capitalism.

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        And Boag seems very intent that Communism had failed, has nobody pointed out to her that it currently subsidies Capitalism.


        capitalism has long failed; the crony capitalism which replaced it in the 1980’s is failing big time now. The financial and currency markets are completely manipulated with high frequency trading bots and insider knowledge scams.

        Democratic socialism ftw. (not centrally directed communism).

        • AAMC

          I was amazed Holmes didn’t point that out to her, cough…splutter! They’ve all got Reds under their beds at the moment!

          Nothing like a bit of cold war thinking and spin to manipulate the debate.

      • mickysavage 6.1.2

        And Boag seems very intent that Communism had failed, has nobody pointed out to her that it currently subsidies Capitalism.

        Excellent. Mind if I plagiaries this?

        • mickysavage

          Oops “plagarise”

        • AAMC

          I think I probably plagiarized it from Adam Curtis from this interview about his new series, ‘All watched over by machines of loving grace’. I imagine he’s happy for it to belong to the political commons.

  7. randal 7

    so they cannot provide one good reason for the asset sales.
    thats very strange.
    in fact not being able to provide a reason for an action is irrational not to say absurd.

  8. John 8

    Don’t you lot find it funny that you’ve been harping on about asset sales for weeks and weeks yet you’re polling at terrible lows and National is almost 2x ahead??

    Let me guess, the public are all halfwits being somehow duped by the evil Nats?

    I’m all for keeping our state assets in our hands but I think it’s time you tried a new tack.

    • AAMC 8.1

      Being at the top of the polls says nothing about whether or not a policy’s in fact a good idea. For an excercize in the sense of popularity see Justin Bieber trending at top of twitter as Tripoi falls and Bill Mckibben is held in cells during tar sands protest at Whithouse.

    • Craig Glen Eden 8.2

      Right so let me guess you want to keep the assets John but you are going to vote National who are going to sell them?

      Why would you want Labour to change tack? Polls are as reliable as John Key is with a position on anything ———- all over the bloody place. If we listened to only polls we wouldn’t need an election.
      But as it happens the polls on asset sales are 3/1 to retain them.

      Im a staunch Labour supporter and I want them to campaign hard on retaining NZ future by retain our assets and if you really want assets to be retained vote Labour.

  9. bbfloyd 9

    as an aside.. did anyone notice how hard guyon was trying to derail cunliffes arguments? to the point of trying to put words in his mouth… check the last ten seconds of the vid and see the look he’s giving cunliffe… obviously pissed off that his game backfired….

    • Aye

      David is far too sure footed to be put off by something like that.  He has a tremendous brain but the ability to express very complex ideas very simply. 

  10. bob daktari 10

    I don’t understand why no one knew with any certainty who their power provider is

    • rosy 10.1

      Simple answer. Because someone else in the household pays the bills. I know my partner wouldn’t have a clue who our power provider is.

  11. Thomas 11

    Cunliffe was playing on emotions—primarily xenophobia, and a desire to control everything. He didn’t actually front any real arguments, just rhetoric about “foreign ownership” and “selling the family silver”.

    Does it make sense for the govt to wholly own three competing companies? No. One is more than enough.

    Does it make sense for the govt to borrow money when it has huge assets? No. Would you take out a loan when you have a huge savings account?

    Is there any reason to believe that selling these companies will raise prices? No. Prices have risen despite state ownership. And remember, if the govt owns 51%, then it still controls the companies.

    Is foreign ownership worse than NZ ownership? No. Money is leaving the country anyway because the govt has to pay interest on its debt.

    Cunliffe is scaremongering. IMO he is just another politician who will do and say whatever it takes to get some votes.

    • Lazy Susan 11.1

      Does it make sense for the govt to borrow money when it has huge assets? No Would you take out a loan when you have a huge savings account?

      You’re forgetting the debt is at 5% interest and the return from the power companies is 17%.

      Would you take out a loan at 5% when you have a huge savings account paying 17%? Hell yes

      • Thomas 11.1.1

        Those numbers are bogus. The value of the assets when they are sold will be determined by their profitability. Since they are less risky investments than government debt, they will get us a better deal and save us money.

        • RedLogix


          You cannot get around the simple arithmetic of it. The government claims that the current return on the asset is too low and not commercially acceptable, therefore the asset should be sold and the cash used elsewhere.

          At whatever price these electricity generators are sold at, the new shareholders will require a commercially acceptable return.

          The only way for this to happen is for electricity prices to rise, or for the govt to flog the asset off at a very low price, far lower than their current book value.

          There are no other options.Which one do you pick Thomas?

          • In Vino Veritas

            Red, dont be a moron. If a willing buyer at the returns that are being made now cannot be found, by definition, there will be no sale. If they can’t sell for their price, they won’t sell. If the government retains a voting majority, whomever is in government can vote down any price rises. And I’d back any labour government to be the first to milk the cow. Cos thats what they do.
            If the shares are sold in NZ, there won’t be an issue with foreign ownership. Yup, and I can just hear what you are going to say now.

            And raising taxes? To how much? And when all of that is spent and you need more, what are you going to do? Raise them even more? Sorry, daft question. Thats exactly what socialists will do. Labour and Cunnliffe say a “fair” tax package. Fair at what point and to whom? They havent been ballsy enough to put a line in the sand as to who is rich and who isn’t. When they do, some of you are going to read and weep, since you are going to be considered “rich”.

            Socialism is great, until you run out of other peoples money.

            • r0b

              Sorry – note in passing:

              Socialism is great, until you run out of other peoples money.

              That slogan really annoys me. Hey guess what – Capitalism is great, until all the poor people die.

              • In Vino Veritas

                But r0b, the poor people never die as you well know. They just have more and more kids that they can’t afford and someone else has to pay for.

                The socialism is great slogan may well annoy you mate, but it is a truism. One can’t redistribute what one doesn’t have.

            • RedLogix

              If a willing buyer at the returns that are being made now cannot be found, by definition, there will be no sale.

              But of course in reality there will be plenty of buyers, which means that the current returns are commercially good. That makes a lie of the Nat govt claiming that they are not. And if they are a good investment for private owners, they must also be a good investment for a public owner… ie you and I..

              There is no escaping the logic. Either they are a good investment at present and there is no valid reason to sell them, or they are not. In which case either you flog them off cheap, or allow the new shareholders to raise electricity prices.

              If the government retains a voting majority, whomever is in government can vote down any price rises.

              That has already been disproven over an over. A majority shareholder cannot vote to damage the commercial interests of a minority owner. All directors must act in the interests of ALL shareholders at ALL times. If they do not the High Court can issue an injunction within 24hrs to prevent the harm. This is a commonplace event.

              And raising taxes? To how much? And when all of that is spent and you need more, what are you going to do? Raise them even more?

              New Zealand is already a very low income tax country by comparison to most of the rest of the OECD when you take into account compulsory retirement contributions. In fact the only nations lower than us are Mexico and South Korea. Overall the proportion of govt core activity to total GDP is pretty average as well.

              The idea that NZ is some kind of over-taxed hell-hole is an inversion of the truth. But of course facts never got in the way of belief.

              • In Vino Veritas

                Nice arguments Red. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One man’s acceptable commercial return is another man’s rubbish return. Investors do invest for “safe haven” purposes as I believe you well know. As always, “cheap” is relative and is almost always judged in hindsight, as unless I’m mistaken, no one has figured out how to read the future. An asset is worth what it is worth now, by various means of valuation, some of which (as again, I believe you understand) may take into account future earnings based on todays earnings. These assets may be bankrupt in 20 years. Air NZ for one since its almost been there before. Just because an investment is good, doesn’t mean there is no valid reason for not selling it. That statement is just ludicrous, and worse, given that you seem reasonably bright, just plain dumb on your part.

                There are many reasons a majority shareholder can vote down and suceed over a minority. Any company’s constitution can include clauses to which Directors must adhere. Your statement that
                “that has already been disproven over and over” is emotive and means squat when litigation is undertaken. Sure, there are precedents, but each case stands on its merits. An injunction is a short term measure taken to provide time for arguments to be put.

                Why use the rest of the OECD? Just because they may or may not have higher tax rates, doesnt make those higher tax rates right, or fairer. And why should we take into account compulsory retirement contributions? Its not a tax. Try the Czech and Slovak Republic’s, there’s another two with lower than us. Try living in Norway for a while, see how much it costs you to live there. But then, facts never got in the way of belief, no?

            • mik e

              Then you become a right whinger like your self and rip every body off left right and center with insider trading, ponzi schemes, and just plain fraud. Then create more unemployment blaming them while borrowing and hoping .then sell assets off at half price the do it all over again.

            • Ianupnorth

              You really need to read more widely, in the OECD we are one of the lowest taxed countries.
              Corporate tax rates http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/tax_com_of_tax_cor_inc_tax-taxation-components-corporate-income-tax

              Tax rates http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/tax_tax_rat-taxation-tax-rates

              • In Vito Vertias

                Thanks Ian. Never heard of this site, but then I really havent the time to pan around every single site that may have something to say on any particular issue. Though I do like to use this one when having discussions around OECD tax rates, and thats because it is in fact, the OECD Tax Database.


                You’ll find info on both personal and corporate rates. Do some analysis on this lot. I’m sure it can be twisted into any form you’d like it to take.

                May I ask why it is important to you that NZ have comparable tax rates to foreign countries? And from the OECD? Does a high tax rate in say, Austria, automatically say to you that NZ has to have something similar? And if you agree with this, on what basis?

                Oh, and I read enough, well enough to be annoying.

                • Colonial Viper

                  May I ask why it is important to you that NZ have comparable tax rates to foreign countries? And from the OECD? Does a high tax rate in say, Austria, automatically say to you that NZ has to have something similar? And if you agree with this, on what basis?

                  Don’t you believe in international benchmarking?

                  In learning from countries who are doing things better than NZ is?

                  This is not about “automatically” accepting anything from a foreign country. It is about analysing and thinking through what we can learn from a small advanced nation – such as Austria.

                  • In Vito Vertias

                    No, I don’t believe in international benchmarking for taxation leastways. Benchmarking this sort of thing implies that those countries you are benchmarking against are doing, as you say, “better than NZ”. Then you get into a whole raft of problems defining what “better” is. I agree with thinking and analysing, but even then, its fraught.

                    I have several friends in Austria. They are not so hot on the idea that Austria is a small advanced nation. Most, but not all, think tax rates are to high. They all don’t believe they get value for their tax dollar. And try going to the doctor there. See how much it costs.

        • Colonial Viper

          The value of the assets when they are sold will be determined by their profitability.

          An, another neoliberalist who believes that the value of something is how much you can get for it in worthless depreciating US dollars.

          Hate to break it to you mate, but the strategic value of those power generators is far higher than the five or six months worth of debt repayments their selling off will cover.

          This is mothing more than an excuse to move prime NZ assets on to private balance sheets while shit assets like SCF get moved on to the public balance sheet.

          We’re on to your game buddy.

        • Lindsay

          The dividend that the government currently receives from the power comapnies is greater than the cost of capital (borrowing). That is the return to NZ is greater even if we have to borrow overseas to fund the government deficit. It would be crazy to sell them.

        • mik e

          Doubting Thomas the energy companies are returning 17.6% per annum Govt bonds are now returning 6% Older bonds 5.5% the share market is shaky at best. So where do you find the other 11% ! Then because it is returning that much in cash a cash rich company its worth more if you were a share market investor you would understand that companies with a high cash flow are worth more than low cash flow companies there are very few companies returning 17.6% so your argument is the only thing bogus . You just another wind up toy of National act.

          • In Vino Veritas

            Mik e, I’m not sure where you get your “energy companies are returning 17.6% per annum”. What return basis are you measuring and which companies? I would point out that most publicly owned energy companies in nz have gross yields of between 5 and 9%
            If you are considering state owned energy companies, you might like to dismiss that part of the return that was made from the sale of assets owned by those companies, for eg: Meridians purchase of Sthn hydro and subsequent sale of that asset to foriegn buyers, netting half a billion – and who did that I wonder? Let me think… Cash rich companies being worth more? Maybe, but Enron was cash rich for a while…. given your bitter tone, I guess you must have lucked out in something like that…

            The SOE’s that are under sale consideration are expected to return about $380m in dividends in future years, the holding costs of these same assets is $800m. Not such a great sum, is it?

            You slag Thomas off for his so called lack of business understanding, when amongst some reasonable stuff, you let yourself down by spouting a load of rabid tut. Sell assets off for half the price? From what I’ve read from you, you couldnt put an accurate valuation on a wooden pencil. Modern economic studies? You’re either just plain stupid or straight out of university to come up with that sort of drivel.

            Ponzi schemes, insider trading and fraud have happened since time immemorial, and that’s because of straight greed. Not just from the people trying to become wealthy (or wealthier), but the dimwitted morons who fire their money into schemes that are too good to be true.

            Wind up toy? Look inwards fella.

      • rosy 11.1.2

        And if we’re comparing governments with households, would you sell the collateral for your future loans?

        • Thomas

          The collateral is the tax base. Government’s real asset is the taxpayers. Bit by bit taxpayers are being sold to private and foreign lenders. We will be paying off our debt through higher taxes long into the future.

          • rosy

            Have to agree with that. Just as when a mortgage is secured against income, and then a further loan is taken out with the house as collateral in case the income earner can’t meet the repayments. You lose the house. And not the government shouldn’t own 3 power companies. They should be merged back into one and work cooperatively, not competitively. The competitive model in the case of power in a country like NZ is a crock.

            • Puddleglum

              Exactly rosy. It is completely disingenuous for Brash and Thomas to argue that it makes ‘no sense’ for the government to own multiple competing power companies.

              The electricity generation capability in this country was deliberately split to introduce ‘market-like efficiencies’. Lo and behold, that led to price rises, an increasing proportion of which have been deliberately levied against residential rather than business consumers – to ‘correct the imbalance’ in charges.

              Anyone would think that people don’t come before business profits.

              • Thomas

                Puddleglum: Prices have risen despite 100% government ownership of the power companies. That takes the wind out of your argument.

                • handle

                  Electricity prices have increased under an artificial ‘market’ created by a National government in the 1990s and left that way by Labour. All it shows is that faking competition in monopoly infrastructure does not work.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Certain corporate users get power far far cheaper than you or I can at home.

                  • marsman

                    Another example of Corporate Welfare.

                  • In Vito Vertias

                    Colonel, its called discount for bulk buying. Similar to for instance, you went to your local fruit seller and ordered 20 boxes of apples instead of 1 apple, you’d be able to negotiate a better price. Plus, and I don’t know this for sure, (but it would be unusual if there wasnt) I would suggest that these corporate users would have to give some sort of usage guarantee, and there would be a clawback clause in their supply contract.

          • vto

            “We will be paying off our debt through higher taxes long into the future.”

            Bullshit we will be. The government has the debt, not us. It is not my debt.

            And if you try getting me to pay back someone else’s debt then I will turn up on your own front door with pitchfork and sickle.

            If people were foolish enough to lend to an organisation that cannot repay it then tough. Dumbarse lenders. Let the organisation go bust.

            Leave me out of it.

            • Thomas

              vto: I feel the same. The government can only pay off debt by raising taxes. Like it or not, that debt is on our shoulders.

              • Colonial Viper

                Government debt is a minor issue.

                Energy independence and owning our future is not.

              • vto

                So Thomas, we will elect a government which does not raise taxes for the purpose of paying back some stupid lenders printed money. We will elect a government which relegates the important things to the top and the dumbarse things to the bottom.

                Or we will elect a government which legislates to not repay, or to repay after everything else is first put right.

                Or we will simply not pay the taxes. Either by going blackmarket or by simply fronting up to the jackbooted enforcers of the state.

                You see, this entire world of printed money is slowly rapidly crumbling and the cracks are already appearing on the streets. It is like a slow motion version of the French Revolution.

          • bbfloyd

            thomo…do you actually read your comments before committing them to publishing? try it next time… you might start making sense in the real world….

            you think it’s fine to sell off our infrastructure, but selling out our people is not? what’s the diff?

            the half baked arguments being put up by rabid tory apologists are starting to get rather inane, to say the least…. if transference is the best you’ve got,, then you’ve got nothing but shrill finger pointing to fall back on…

            so this is the “grown up” debate johnny sparkle was hinting at?

            • Thomas

              bbfloyd: I agree, neither option is nice. We should really focus on cutting the deficit.

              However, asset sales are certainly no worse than debt. People just have more of an emotional attachment to the brands being sold than they do to invisible government debt.

          • Colonial Viper

            Thomas still making the case for selling off our highest earning state assets and letting foreigners control our strategic power generation?

            What can you expect from someone who buys into the failure which is Chicago school economics.

            • Thomas

              CV: Three points.

              * 49% is not a controlling share.

              * “Strategic” is a funny word to be using here. Has the government had any strategy for power generation recently? They have been dodging questions about our future energy supply for years.

              * You should really grow up and stop talking about the Chicago school (which has nothing to do with basic economics) all the time. Try actually addressing the arguments rather than just shouting “Chicago Chicago Chicago” as if that means something.

              • RedLogix

                49% is not a controlling share.

                But neither can it be acted against either. All directors must act in the interest of all shareholders. There is ample commercial law establishing this. (And if you think about it for a few moments it’s obvious why.)

                Try actually addressing the arguments rather than just shouting “Chicago Chicago Chicago” as if that means something.

                Well it does mean something to us. It is a jargon term for the neo-classical school of unthought, made famous by Milton Friedman, and propelled into public policy by the Reagan and Thatcher administrations.

                Nowadays widely regarded as a specious and bogus justification for greed and looting.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Thomas probably doesn’t know about the “Freshwater” and “Saltwater” schools of economics either.

                  Seems a shame that we have to provide these RWNJ’s with a basic economic education.

              • mik e

                Thomas your understanding of business shows how naive you are . the Govt of the day may just decide to be a silent partner , smaller shareholdings like cornerstone share holders can have a bigger say in how a company is run , there are many permutations. but selling our best preforming assets for a fire slae price is dumb and dumber . Doubting Thomas please tell me the value they are worth then if you know more than National spin i’ll be interested. otherwise its just BS.

              • mik e

                If it has nothing to do with basic economics[I glad you think that but in reality your just trying to fob the facts] thats why this goverment is following a failed ideology that has been proven nothing more than an exploitive ideology that takes from the poor countries and people and gives to the big companies and powerful countries. Modern economic research has shown it to be a failure.Thomas I could go on for hours giving you examples and research as I have read several libraries on economics and its research which I have pointed out to your other trolls but they are tired of being proven wrong. So they send a new troll to wind us up

          • Deadly_NZ

            And what good is that asset when there are no jobs?? What price your loans then?? If these fools get another 3 years then I think NZ will be in way worse shape than when Muldoon was finally booted out.

    • Lanthanide 11.2

      “Is there any reason to believe that selling these companies will raise prices? No. Prices have risen despite state ownership. And remember, if the govt owns 51%, then it still controls the companies.”

      Is that like when the aircraft engineers asked the (Labour!) government to intervene in a decision Air NZ made about stopping maintenance in Christchurch, the government said it couldn’t act against the commercial interests of the minority share holders?

      • Deadly_NZ 11.2.1

        Except isn’t there is some bizarre rule that lets the minor share holders sue the 51% (govt) if they think that the returns are too low?? What chance your power bills not going up rapidly if they do sell them.

    • mikesh 11.3

      Yes. Cunliffe didn’t make as good a case as he might have. I preferred Ms Kelly’s argument that the service these assets provide underpins our economy, and that such service cannot be be guaranteed if these assets are sold to private interests whose only interest is in the bottom line (ie if providing good service is not as profitable as they would like).

      Certainly it doesn’t make sense to borrow large amounts of money and lumber future taxpayers with a large interest bill. If the government wanted to reduce expenditure so as to be able to lower tax rates it should have done so first, so that it could follow up with tax reductions at a later date. Is the government stupid, or are they just being devious?

      Devious I think. I think they are trying to bring about a situation where they can claim they are forced to sell assets. I also think that prising assets out of state hands is John Key’s only reason for being in politics.

      • Thomas 11.3.1

        mikesh: I think John Key wants to divert attention away from the government debt. The real problem is that his tax package was unaffordable and the last Labour government’s spending was also unaffordable in the long run.

        I don’t think John Key went into politics for selfish reasons. He is rich enough to retire happily. So why would he go through all the bother of politics?

        • RedLogix

          I don’t think John Key went into politics for selfish reasons.

          Remember what his last job before coming back to NZ was?

          It never made sense to me that a self-made boy from ChCh who had literally climbed to the top of a very greasy pole in the banking world, would have come back to NZ just to be an Opposition back-bench MP.

          Something must have gone down that has never been talked about.

        • Colonial Viper

          I don’t think John Key went into politics for selfish reasons. He is rich enough to retire happily. So why would he go through all the bother of politics?

          That’s a very good question. Who made it worth his while to take an 85%-95% pay cut to go into Parliament.

        • Blue

          Of course Key didn’t go into politics for the money. He went in for the power and status. Being just another ex-Merrill Lynch banker worth $50m is good, but it’s not going to get you to a royal wedding, or shaking hands with Obama or appearing on Letterman.

          He wants to be top dog, pure and simple.

    • mik e 11.4

      Thomas Pathetic propaganda the value to earnings ratio of the power companys could mean these partial sell down of state assets is a fraud insider trading at its worst.The true value of these assets is more like $10 to $15 billion dollars not the now Down graded latest estimate by Hooten of a mere $5billion this is a scandalous rip off by the right.I have no beef with asset sales so long as the best performing assets are no flogged of for next to nothing , these assets are returning 17.6% per annum {700to 800 million dollars as well as being cash rich businesses which command a premium] with the average return from the share market being 6.6%.Then the cost of borrowing is only 5.5% this makes Hooton and National accomplices on an insider trading rip off !

    • mik e 11.5

      Thomas Sir Michael Fay must be a xenophobic as well

  12. tc 12

    yes lanth, a point the RWNJ’s conveniently forget when they bang on about minoritys not impacting reinvestment and the forgoing of profits to achieve that and it all being good for NewZild.

    John. when you talk to tradefolk who are still thinking of voting for the nats again despite just having their worse year ever, the inability to get the fundamentals through (helped by a compliant MSM) to these people who seriously need a lift in economic activity is a major concern. trickle down has become being p’d on.

    • mik e 12.1

      He wanted to be prime minister when he was a kid . Nothing more than Narcissism Doubting Thomas thats really his motivation. otherwise he wouldn’t break promises

  13. randal 13

    according to Hooton on RNZ the assets will be sold to mums and dads and orphans and such (sniff…cry) but they already own it!

    • RedLogix 13.1

      Hooten is devious shit. All he did was shout down Paganini with emotive language. He kept claiming that the assets will be owned by New Zealand based entities like Superannuation and iwi… knowing full well as he does that his own party has repeatedly acknowledged that there is no way for the govt to ensure this outcome. Not at the least without compromising the sale process.

      Hopelessly deceitful of him to keep claiming this… yet Hooten was the one accusing the left of dishonesty! And Kathryn Ryan reveals her Tory underpinnings by letting him get away with it.

      • Oscar 13.1.1

        He also said that they were only selling 49% and that the Government will still be in control. But what he didn’t say was ‘For now’

  14. Carol 14

    In my mailbox today. A postcard sized fridge magnet with David Cunliffe and some other local contact details “authorisied by David Cunliffe…etc)

    And a postcard-size pic of NZ lake & land & pohutukawa tree with caption NEW ZEALAND IS NOT FOR SALE.

    On the reverse, stuff about Labour’s tax policies, including:

    1st $50000 tax free; top tax rate (over $150,000) 39%; GST off fruit & veg; 15% CGT, in line with rest of OECD; Never CGT on family home; CGT only for gains made on sale of shares, investment properties, companies “etc” & not retrospective; “capital losses can be offset against future gains”; 10% of NZers will be affected by CGT in any year.

    And also says: National’s plan is to sell assets to pay off debt. That’s like selling your home then renting it back.
    Plus stuff about Labour’s plan being fairer for hard-working Kiwis.

    “Authorised by Rick Barker…”

  15. Anne 15

    Hooten is devious shit. All he did was shout down Paganini with emotive language

    Yep… and another email of mine winged it’s way to Nine to Noon this morning with exactly those sentiments. They’re going to get an email each Mon.morning until there is an improvement.

    Send those emails folks… the more the merrier!


  16. tc 16

    “I think they are trying to bring about a situation where they can claim they are forced to sell assets. I also think that prising assets out of state hands is John Key’s only reason for being in politics.”

    Correct on both counts, 6bill p.a. borrowed for tax cuts, gift duty abolished and keeping the foot on the economies throat to name a few help create the worse than it should be outlook and Sideshow was aparently handpicked by a certain waiheke dwelling former party president (well she is a recruiter) to tick all those boxes of style over substance to front another great sell off.

    No surprises Fay’s getting the charm offensive going (thanks granny) as he can smell the key-kitchen firing up for another round of prime roasted juicy public asset sales.

  17. handle 17

    A reliable electricity system will underpin this country’s future economy. Even talking about selling it shows no long-term vision at all.

  18. clandestino 18

    I got the worrying impression none of these ‘expert’ panelists know what they are talking about, let alone Paul Holmes.

    At one point, Helen Kelly did say ‘the market doesn’t work’, but she was unable to clearly explain why, despite being given an opening by Boag.

    • Colonial Viper 18.1


      The free market doesn’t work because only strict government oversight can deliver truly competitive marketplaces.

      Further, the free market will not deliver on societal values because price and profit are the main drivers of the free market, not societal values.

      And lastly, in many areas of society the use of free markets can encourage a decidedly short term outlook as well as building in inefficiency and duplication.

  19. randal 19

    the market doesn’t work becasue the players dont actually want it to work. Read Thorsten Veblein on the “theory of business enterprise” for the whole lowdown. It only works sometimes for some people and when it gets out of hand then the government shuts it down or the as rate of profit always declines towards zero over time then some people get propped up and then it becomes industry by subsidy.
    The only reason it works in China and India at the moment is because of the ‘residual’. i.e. a cadre that can move from low wages to higher even though they are stil lower than the western democracies. When they come up to wage parity then the WORLD will be stuffed completely and no amount of breastbeating is gonna bring it back.

    • clandestino 19.1

      Oh yes I understand well the reasons for the market failing, not just the ones you say there, though true. In saying that, combating the theory behind privatization (market competition/efficiency) is best done by John Ralston Saul in The Unconscious Civilisation where he argues private bureaucracies are no more efficient than public ones, they simply do a poorer job. He would know, having run an oil company.

  20. Samara 20

    Do you still love me?

    Do you want me in your life?

    You do know if you were to be my friend, we would be such a team, we could weave magic together?

    Do you still love me, if you do, prove it!

    [lprent: You really need to use the reply button and to write something relevant. Some of your comments spent some time in spam because they look like a robot wrote them as they seem rather disconnected from the conversation. ]

  21. Gus 21

    Gawd you are really turning into a party political broadcast on a regular basis now Eddie

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