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Key breaks Kiwibank pledge

Written By: - Date published: 4:13 pm, June 2nd, 2010 - 54 comments
Categories: assets, Politics, privatisation - Tags: , ,

In the May budget Key broke his pre-election promise not to raise GST.

Today, in the House, Jim Anderton foreshadowed what looks like the next unequivocal commitment that’s set for the chop.

The video is embedded below.

Key: “We won’t be cutting essential services, we’ll be growing them, and we won’t be selling Kiwibank either”

Campbell: “Sorry I just want to come in there…”

Key: “We won’t be selling Kiwibank”

Campbell: “Ever?”

Key: “No. I’ve ruled it out. We won’t be selling…”

Clark: “‘Eventually’, Bill English said…”

Key: “No, we won’t be selling Kiwibank”

So having promised no sale “ever” Key’s now committing only to no sale in the first term. Meanwhile, Bill English is clearly doing the groundwork for the sell-off if the Nats manage a second.

It’s looking more and more likely that asset sales will be the big issue next time ’round.

54 comments on “Key breaks Kiwibank pledge”

  1. Bright Red 1

    awww, that guy looks so relaxed and aspirational for new zealand. and when he makes a promise, you believe him.

    he sure could teach our pm a thing or two.

  2. Lazy Susan 2

    Not just keeping Kiwibank but “growing essential services” as well. This guys got some good ideas – maybe we should let him try them!

  3. exbrethren 3

    Surprise, surprise Captain Beaky caught telling lies.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    Susan , thats the category the cycleway comes under – Essential services

  5. zimmer 5

    Spread the risk, let shareholders contribute to the Capital Raising. Keeps public debt lower and gives the people who own shares a chance to make some money as well.
    Nothing wrong with that.

    • Luxated 5.1

      So by selling a sizeable portion of Kiwibank to a small proportion of the population (or people/entities offshore) you ‘spread the risk’? Pull the other one.

      To clarify. Assume that approximately half of Kiwibank is sold off (just assume, it doesn’t matter if it is half, all or ten percent in this case) which is equivalent to the ownership of half of NZ or around 2.2 million people. The only way you would find more buyers than that is if an overseas super/pension fund bought it. Ipso facto, most likely concentrating risk over a smaller number of people rather than spreading it.

      • Rich 5.1.1

        The NZ taxpayer takes all the risk anyway, for all the banks.

        If Westpac went down the tubes, we’d be bailing them out, both with the explict deposit guarantee and with the need to keep banks going.

        At least with state ownership we get to share in the profits as well.

        • mickysavage 5.1.1.1

          If Westpac went down the tubes, we’d be bailing them out, both with the explicit deposit guarantee and with the need to keep banks going.

          I hope we will then realise that it is better to bail out and support banks we own rather than banks the Aussie superannuation schemes own.

          David Cunliffe and Phil Goff are right. We own Kiwibank already. Why should we change this?

        • Luxated 5.1.1.2

          True enough, Rich.

          Which of course begs the question, why are private banks remotely desirable if taxpayers shoulder the burden regardless?

          At least with state ownership we get to share in the profits as well.

          The only argument I’d make against that is the whether or not it is necessary for a state run bank to make a profit.

          • Lanthanide 5.1.1.2.1

            “The only argument I’d make against that is the whether or not it is necessary for a state run bank to make a profit.”

            It’s certainly not good for a SoE to be running at a loss, because it’d be draining the government coffers and any bad business conditions that came along would exascerbate the drain on the government further.

            Also running SoEs as businesses with a profit motive gives you the prime goal of capitalism: efficiency as a means to improve profit, and efficiency is desirable in any business, but especially state-owned ones.

          • seth 5.1.1.2.2

            Simple really, because they do a better job at running a bank than a government can. Governments aren’t there for running banks……..

            • gobsmacked 5.1.1.2.2.1

              Governments aren’t there for running banks ..

              No, they’re there for rescuing banks. From the people who “run” them. Into the ground.

              Was 2008 so long ago?

            • Lanthanide 5.1.1.2.2.2

              Many large investors, such as pension and hedge funds, take no active management in their assets whatsoever. Similarly mum and dad investors won’t be taking active management in Kiwibank, unless they buy 5%+ parcels, in which case you can’t really call them “mum and dad” any more.

            • felix 5.1.1.2.2.3

              seth: “Simple really, because they do a better job at running a bank than a government can. Governments aren’t there for running banks ..”

              Yeah, cos Kiwibank is such a fucking awful bank and the others are just so fucking good.

            • Luxated 5.1.1.2.2.4

              It’s certainly not good for a SoE to be running at a loss, because it’d be draining the government coffers and any bad business conditions that came along would exascerbate the drain on the government further.

              I wasn’t suggesting that it be run at a loss, merely that it doesn’t seek to take profits. In other words that over the long term the bank would neither earn nor lose the government any money.

              Also running SoEs as businesses with a profit motive gives you the prime goal of capitalism: efficiency as a means to improve profit, and efficiency is desirable in any business, but especially state-owned ones.

              As any half decent mathematician/scientist/engineer will tell you, you cannot just boil everything down to a single value and still have that value mean anything, which is a fundamental problem of capitalism. It is seen that lowering the dollar value of our increases efficiency but this ignores many things which factor into the decision making process.

              The environment is a topical point which demonstrates this quite well. Take a dairy farm for example, you could buy one now pump it full of fertiliser, drain the aquifer and pollute any nearby waterways. This in the short term will look very ‘efficient’ for a capitalist perspective, you ‘externalise’ your environmental costs and then flick the farm off when yields are high. In this situation you’ve maximised your return by putting far too many cattle on the farm, had temporary high yields which you can use as a selling point and you don’t have to wear the cost of long term damage.

              The truly efficient approach in this example isn’t the one which maximises book returns in this fiscal quarter but one which sustainably provides potentially lower yields (ignoring natural variation) but does so indefinitely.

              Also you may remember a post here with a link to a talk by Dan Pink, I’ll give you a second longer one based on the same thing. The content is largely similar but Dan does briefly touch on the motivational effect of money with respect to businesses.

              Something else that needs to be addressed is that the most efficient method in terms of a dollar value often doesn’t meet the true demand for the resource. Two easy examples of this are power and health, both essential services in modern society.

              In the power industry it probably isn’t terribly efficient to provide power to an out of the way village of 100 or so people, costs could be reduced by not supplying them power at all. By taking this approach the people of the village would be forced (unless they didn’t want power at all) to supply themselves with power which causes a duplication of resources (albeit on a small scale) which could have been avoided if the power company supplied them with power in the first place.

              Health is a particularly poignant one in America at the moment. From a capitalist perspective is more efficient to not provide healthcare to the poor, they cannot afford to pay for it therefore they shall not receive it. This narrow view overlooks the fact that healthcare is a public good, we all benefit from well provisioned healthcare despite the extra initial cost. It is inefficient as a society for people to be off work or just out of society because the are sick or injured, this societal cost (good luck measuring that in dollars) is completely overlooked in the bottom line of the budget.

              Quickly wrapping my points up. By using an ineffective measure of the value of doing something we as a society optimise for the wrong things (or strongly risk doing so), as the adage goes “Garbage in, garbage out”.

              And to quickly address Seth:

              Simple really, because they do a better job at running a bank than a government can. Governments aren’t there for running banks ..

              I’ll give you a small quote from Raj Patel’s book, ‘The Value of Nothing’, chapter 10 note 34:

              In off-record conversation after off-record conversation, financial insiders have said they’re astounded that governments haven’t yet nationalized banks, since it is so obviously the right thing for governments to do.

              In case you are wondering you Raj Patel is, this is the short bio from the back of that same book:

              Raj Patel was educated at Oxford, London School of Economics and Cornell. A former fellow at Yale and Berkeley, he is now at the university of KwaZulu-Natal. He has worked for the World Bank, interned at the WTO, consulted for the UN and protested against them all.

              Just in case you thought he might not have access to financial insiders.

            • Jason 5.1.1.2.2.5

              Nope, they do a better job at maximising shareholders returns, which is not always the same as doing a better job at running a bank. The recent fiascos in the banking sector would show that. And yes I have worked in that sector in a major international bank and do have some idea of that which I speak

  6. all_your_base 6

    That whole debate aside zimmer, what about saying one thing and doing another?

  7. bobo 7

    National will probably spin the capital raising share float as enabling kiwibank to grow its services… blah, blah.. Seems any of Keys “Pledges” have an exit clause, all this goes back to the nasty lie to get in at any cost politics of the 80s/90s. People seem to forget Labour’s pledge card in 99 they honored it in the first term, there were no nasty surprises, cute reversals, or flipflops, and from memory national were crushed to their worst defeat under blingish in 2002. Kiwis do seem to have very short memories at times when they compare this gov’s first term to that of Clarks first term in office.

  8. We can only hope you are right.

  9. vto 9

    Sometime soon the people will simply refuse to pay tax to people like English and Key. And in fact most recent govts in NZ.

    A bit like Greece perhaps, with its social unrest. This current, still fermenting, sovereign debt stench is attributable to individual people in various govts around the globe. And their personal desire for power and etc. Sooner or later (methinks sooner) people will realise that govts are not govts but in fact a group of individual people. Personal responsibility will be brought to bear on those holding those ‘offices’. Just like the trend in the corporate world. Limitation of liability is disappearing.

    Then what will Key and English do? Lead the charge against the people with the heavy jackboots of the state??? I don’t think so.

  10. Fisiani 10

    Wow. John Key says he wont sell Kiwibank ever and he never will.
    John Key says he will never raise GST TO FUND THE DEFICIT and never did

    Two complete non stories.

    You got a scoop there folks. Yeah right.

    • gobsmacked 10.1

      “John Key says he wont sell Kiwibank ever and he never will.”

      So why doesn’t he just say so?

      Some of us would like to know what John Key intends, not what Fisiani invents.

      But if you have evidence for your claim, please share.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 10.1.1

        The japanese PM just resigned because he broke an election promise – good to see someone taking a ‘non story’ seriously

    • SPC 10.2

      Did he not say before the election

      Tax cuts north of $50.
      He saw no need to increase GST.

      Then after the election

      The tax cuts promised could only be finally delivered when they were affordable.
      The tax reform package would be fiscally nuetral (the $400M cost of a 33% tax rate over the $150,000 thresh-hold was not covered).
      No one would be worse off with the introduction of GST.
      GST was an essential part of tax reform.

      From no need to increase GST to an increase in GST being an important part of tax reform.

      Apparently all he did was form a TWG which favoured GST being increased. What’s next a SWG to prepare the way for the promise not to change Super to be broken as well?

  11. Lanthanide 11

    “John Key says he will never raise GST TO FUND THE DEFICIT and never did”

    Um, if GST weren’t being raised, the government would have to borrow even more money for their taxcuts. You know borrowing = increasing deficit, right? And so raising GST allows them not to borrow, in other words when you connect the dots it means the reduce the size of the deficit by raising GST, which is what “fund the deficit” means.

    Next own goal?

  12. Dan 12

    This is small change compared to the foreshore issue. Clark over-reacted to the prospect of legal claims on the foreshore, and lost the election.
    Key has overpromised on the foreshore, and if the Tuhoe shambles is any indication, will roll over to the Brash brigade, and show the Maori Party the back door.
    Of all his promises, wasn’t tax cuts “north of $50” his promise? Yeah, right.

    To offer Kiwibank to the Mum and Dad investors who already are the main strength of the bank shows he is quite out of touch.

    Why look for oil off White Island? The Nact party is snake oil personnified.

    • seth 12.1

      I got tax cuts of $90 per week, so he wasn’t lying.

      Did you not realise that a tax cut is dependent on how much tax you actually pay in the first place?

      • Lanthanide 12.1.1

        If you got tax cuts of $90/week, then you’re earning around $115,000, which is more than twice the “average wage” of about $48k.

        He said “tax cuts north of $50 for those on the average wage”. Sorry, try again, and this time actually do the maths first.

      • felix 12.1.2

        He promised north of $50 a week for the average worker, genius.

        edit: beaten to it.

      • kaplan 12.1.3

        With the core of your argument ripped to shreds can you please come back and repost incorporating the term ‘so he was lying’.
        Thanks.

  13. Rex Widerstrom 13

    Fools, have you never heard of non core promises?

    They did John Howard no harm. After brmaking* them in his first term, the voters happily lined up to give him three more.

    [Since you never intend to keep your non core promises you are in fact breaking them by the very act of uttering them, hence “brmaking”]

    • Non core promises are an interesting concept Rex.

      They suggest that you can make a promise and as long as most swinging electors do not mind you do not get hurt if you break them.

      This is logical but totally immoral IMHO.

      It relies on enough of the electorate being sufficiently stupid to not worry when our politicians lie.

      • Lazy Susan 13.1.1

        “This is logical but totally immoral IMHO” – agreed but it also corrosive as far as a society’s value system is concerned.

        The example being set is that lieing (or breaking promises if you want to be very generous) is fine, as long as you can get away with it. Not a great way to build a functional society.

    • Marty G 13.2

      In NZ promises on state assets are core promises. The nats had to make it or the election was at risk.

  14. Lanthanide 14

    “Despite all our principalled statements…”

  15. SPC 15

    He’s building up for the big one, breaking his promise not to make any changes to Super.

    • gobsmacked 15.1

      He’s building up for the big one, breaking his promise not to make any changes to Super.

      Yep. Here’s that promise:

      “Today let me make a pledge: National will retain all the superannuation entitlements and eligibility rules that our senior citizens currently enjoy. We will keep this pledge and I will resign as Prime Minister, and as a member of our Parliament, rather than break it.”

      (Speech, Wellington, 2008)

      Now, us dumb public might think that really means “no changes”. But it shouldn’t take a good Spinner very long to come up with an “Out”. Sure, Key said “Entitlements”, “Eligibility Rules”, OK, but … still room to manoeuvre. Throw a little dust in the eyes. And away we go.

      “A courageous decision” – Fran O’Sullivan. “Tough but fair” – Guyon Espiner. “Labour did something or other in the ’80’s” – David Farrar.

      etc.

      • mickysavage 15.1.1

        This is I think the most cynical bit of politics Key has engaged in.

        He refuses to fund the Cullen fund, or to maintain taxes or to consider increasing the age of retirement.

        Something will give within the next ten years, nothing is more certain.

        There will not be enough money in the coffers to maintain current superannuation rights.

        His refusal to do anything about the next three years is an exercise in ostrichism and a guarantee that the problem will be worse.

        • Lanthanide 15.1.1.1

          Yes, it is appalling that Key made that promise. IMO if he manages to get a 2nd, and potentially even 3rd term, he’d have to step aside in the 3rd to make good on his promise, because by then it will be necessary to at least increase the entitlement age, as every other 1st world country has been doing.

          And since we’re living longer anyway, and have generous kiwisaver, I really don’t have a problem with that.

  16. tsmithfield 16

    The problem with this argument is that no-one has defined what Key meant by “selling”. In Keys statement did he rule out “selling” Kiwibank in terms of not letting the entity be sold lock stock and barrel to private interests? Or did he rule out selling any part of it, not even a single share?

    Its hard to tell from the 14 seconds provided above. However, note that in the interview Key did not rule out selling shares in Kiwibank. It seems to me that he was ruling out selling Kiwibank lock stock and barrel, as is the common understanding of “selling” something. For instance, I don’t think many people would consider they had sold their stamp collection if they sold 5 stamps out of 100.

    So long only a minority shareholding is put up for sale, then I don’t think most people would consider that Kiwibank had been “sold”. Hence there is no contradiction in my mind.

    I guess if you want to see a contradiction, you will disagree.

    • jc 16.1

      Politicians call it plausible deniability. The public call it lying.

    • SPC 16.2

      Yeah, like well Super itself is not changed if its denied to those under 70, just the age of entitlement … Politician for “clarification” and “elaboration” …..

      Or its understood as a retirement pension, so if someone is still working ….

      Of course if there is an affordability issue, then the universal and unchanged Super should be means tested. No one who needs it will face any change.

      So its only universal if you are poor, over 70 and have retired – but no susbstantive change to Super …

    • Lanthanide 16.3

      “For instance, I don’t think many people would consider they had sold their stamp collection if they sold 5 stamps out of 100.”

      We’re not talking about a stamp collection. Or indeed, any kind of collection.

    • Marty G 16.4

      balancing on the head of a pin that small is quite a skill, ts.

    • Armchair Critic 16.5

      The problem is that John Key says one thing and does something else.

  17. jcuknz 17

    It is a disgusting wriggle. Though I don’t object to residents raising money for KB by buying shares to make KB stronger, with provisos that shares must be sold if the person moves overseas and only to a NZ resident.

    Perhaps he will never sell KB becuase he will get rolled before he has the chance?

    >>>Sometime soon the people will simply refuse to pay tax<<< Wishful thinking vto becuase except for the self employed the majority of people have no way not to pay tax …. wages have PAYE deducted before you get it and shops will not sell goods unless you pay the stipulated price. Perhaps you can suggest how most of us can do it?

    • Lanthanide 17.1

      I don’t know if it’s easy to build in rules that shares must be owned by NZ citizens. But if it is a reasonable thing to do, I’m all for it.

      A probably much easier thing to manage would be only allowing Kiwisaver schemes (or the super fund) from buying Kiwibank shares, and no one else. As there are only some 30-40 kiwisaver schemes and a single super fund, that would be easy to vet. It seems to be the best of all possible worlds if you are dead-set on selling shares in a SoE.

      “wages have PAYE deducted before you get it and shops will not sell goods unless you pay the stipulated price.”

      PAYE is deducted from your salary because your employer co-operates with IRD. They could simply not report your salary, or pay you cash under the table. Shops could simply choose not to charge GST and cease all GST returns to the government.

      Obviously this would take businesses to make these tax decisions, rather than purely private citizens, but I’m just pointing out that a widespread revolt against taxes is entirely possible. It’ll just never happen because we aren’t insane – I doubt even the nutjobs in the USA will ever manage to abolish taxes like they want to (or if they did, everything would fall apart within 3 months anyway).

  18. gingercrush 18

    Surprise surprise a politician lies. Sorry but cite me a politician that has told the truth all the time?

    Anyway I only commented to say what a shitty leaders debate Campbell’s one was. It was just awful. Clark on the attack, Key looked worse than he did the previous debate (which was probably the shittiest of the three). Useless questions. Only decent thing about it was having Linda Clarke on the panel-thing afterwards.

  19. Jim Nald 19

    haha … the man keeps duping the NZ public
    they keep falling for him
    before NZ’s downfall

  20. kriswgtn 20

    You wait until the yanks with their ships are allowed back in

    Gone by lunchtime ring a bell
    ding dong

    • Jason 20.1

      That one I can;t see happening – not for a very long time. Only if the US change thier policy of non-confirmation policy on Nuclear weapons.

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  • Concern at introduction of national security legislation for Hong Kong
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