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Nats get desperate on asset sales

Written By: - Date published: 7:44 am, October 24th, 2012 - 64 comments
Categories: energy, privatisation - Tags:

The Nats have decided to try to lean on the judiciary to get asset sales handled the way they want. The Judge is ‘Red Ron’. The Court shouldn’t try to decide water rights at a level of general principle. The Maori Council mustn’t get legal aid. The case should be kicked straight up to the Supreme Court and settled before March. It’s not working. It’s not going to work. And the costs are mounting.

Remember, on Planet Key, we were all going to be clambering over each other to buy shares in Mighty River by now. In reality, they haven’t even worked out who has the ownership papers to the company’s most important asset – it’s water.

So far, they’ve spent $1.25m of taxpayer money on the water rights dispute kicked off by the asset sales alone. The Greens’ Costwatch stands at $16.4m, which doesn’t include the updated water rights costs and the half million sweetheart deal to Mighty River’s CEO. So, something like $17.5m so far at the very least (the big part of the the Greens’ numbers are only to June 30). That’s without a share being sold. Or even offered to the public. It’s going to get much, much more expensive from here on. Unless National comes down to earth and drops this dumb policy.

I understand  that the Keep Our Assets Coalition basically has the 308,000 signatures they need now but they’re going to collect another 20% to allow for the inevitable invalids. Let’s get through that final 70,000-odd by the end of November.

The other question is this. English said the other day that the slowing economy is a reason to go ahead with the sales. Which is funny because in the past he’s called supposed strong growth that’s just around the corner (that brighter future keeps on moving a little more into the future, eh?) as a reason to sell. Has the Government actually bothered to set conditions which would trigger them to stop the sales? Is there a net revenue return that wouldn’t be enough for them? I bet there isn’t. They’ll sell if they get any chance at all.

Which is why the Maori Council’s law suit is so important. At the least, it’s very likely to delay the Mighty River sale to October 2013. At best (and to hear National tell it, this simply isn’t a possibility), the Maori Council will win and the Court will order the Government to settle water rights with affected iwi before the sales go ahead, which will be enough to effectively kill the programme. No wonder the Nats are starting to lean on the courts to get things the way they want.

Of course, while all this is going on, the actual economy is going to hell in a handbasket (the latest is that plummeting tourism will see 20 job losses in Auckland – who’s the Minister of Tourism?). But the Nats are so distracted and obsessed by asset sales that they hardly seem to have noticed.

lprent: Shifted the “Red Ron” link to a APNZ copy on the ODT since the version in the NZ Herald has changed. (Thanks Wayne and toad for bringing it to our attention). I apologize for my laxity (been working on a openSSL pipe bug this morning).

It reads:-

The hearing will begin in the High Court at Wellington at 10am but is expected to be heard in chambers unless the judge deems it in the public interest to be heard in open court.

Justice Ronald Young – sometimes referred to as “Red Ron” for his liberal leanings – is thought to be hearing the case. The Crown will be represented by Crown Law counsel Jason Gough and Wellington barrister David Goddard, QC.

It will argue that nothing, not the order-in-council, nor the sale itself, limits the Government’s ability to address Maori rights and interests in water.

The Maori Council will be represented by Felix Geiringer who ran the council’s case at the Waitangi Tribunal hearing in July.

Audrey is almost as bad as John Key for making unwarranted assertions about the court in my opinion.

64 comments on “Nats get desperate on asset sales”

  1. Tom Gould 1

    The attack on His Honour Justice Ron Young is appalling and just another example of how these nasty Tories resort to character assassination and gutter tactics as a first resort. The notion that an experienced justice of the High Court would allow political considerations to influence his decisions is simply crazy, but in the twisted minds of these Tories, that’s how their world works on Planet Key. Contemptable.

  2. Ron Young has been on the bench for years and will laugh at the attempt.  But agreed any such pressure by the Crown is utterly appalling.

  3. ad 3

    Quite chilling this morning to hear Shamubeel Eaqub (God sorry about spelling) reminding us all that New Zealand is exceptionally vulnerable to the world economy, that our main supporting economy Australia was really faltering, that we are not necessarily going to get growth inevitably, and that on average it takes seven years to get out of a global economy as bad as this.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      Yip. Seems that just as things start picking up in 3 years time, (counting 4 back to 2008) we’ll be hit by oil price shocks. If not before.

      • aerobubble 3.1.1

        National “trust them” the economy is just around the corner, that NZ is better placed, that NZ is fit, is all bunkum. NZ hollowed out economy is managed by insipid public and private autocrats who when they don’t get their way, the same old way they do stuff, they get nasty. This veneer of progressive democracy is just white wash, the NZ economy is one giant rort.

        NZ has survived so far because of Australian banking reforms and China booming, its over reliance on single products and failure to transfer profits in good times to build depth and breath to the economy will soon be exposed.

        The only good news story is that we are still closer to the land, have good gardening skills and a lowish population.

        Key is wrong on asset sales, Key gets a lawyer in and tells them what the outcome needs to be, and so of course he gets on the wrong side of the issue/s. The switch and bait though is, its not just Maori against partial asset sales, its anyone who cares about selling assets at a loss even in part to foreigners who will take more rent out of the economy.

        • Draco T Bastard

          The switch and bait though is, its not just Maori against partial asset sales, its anyone who cares about selling assets at a loss even in part to foreigners who will take more rent out of the economy.

          I feel certain that if a referendum of foreign ownership was held today most people would call for it to disallowed. They know that foreign ownership has been bad for the NZ economy and that more of it will just make things worse.

  4. marsman 4

    John Key on the late TV News hissing that the Courts need to hurry the Maori Council hearings because selling our State Assets is an emergency. Can’t wait for the snake to be hissssstory.

    • Socialist Paddy 4.1

      For them selling assets is an emergency.  

      The bastards created a hole in the country’s accounts by giving unaffordable tax cuts to the rich and they had to cover up the financial hole by flogging off assets.

      Of course they should be increasing taxes but they have a pathological block that stops them doing so.  All they can do now is flog off stuff.  

      It does not matter how stupid it becomes because of market conditions.  They have no alternative. 

      • felix 4.1.1

        In fact Key is on record, in the Hansard, when questioned as to the lowest price the govt could take for the assets and still consider the sales worthwhile, as saying that he intends to sell the assets regardless of price, simply because selling them is “the right thing to do”.

        • Johnm

          Hi felix Shonkey is appalling in his arrogance, he doesn’t give a stuff about NZ’s history and social balance.

          • vto

            It’s not so much that he doesn’t give a stuff johnm, it’s more that he just doesn’t know anything about our history or social balance.

            He is shallow and lacks knowledge and understanding.

          • Reagan Cline

            He probably hopes to change it for the better.

        • Draco T Bastard

          In fact Key is on record, in the Hansard,

          Link or date?

          • felix

            14 Feb this year. I didn’t get the quote exactly right, but it’s close enough:

            David Shearer: Is there a bottom line below which he would not sell our profitable assets; and if so, what is that bottom line?

            Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The bottom line is that it has got to be the right thing for New Zealand, and it is.

      • Johnm 4.1.2

        Socialist Paddy 100% correct

    • “John Key on the late TV News hissing”

      …excellent! He does hiss….(or perhaps, more accurately he hiths)

      “Can’t wait for the snake to be hissssstory”

      +1 Love it!

  5. tc 5

    Gotta keep the backers happy, MRP will be flogged along with anything else of strategic value they can shoe horn, they’ll focus on essential infrastructure.

    It was never about what’s good for Nzild, just do what the hollowmen say and throwing 500k bone to Heffernden boy helps keep MRP in line….who’s a good Douggy boy then, now sit and do as we say.

  6. Jackal 6


    Is there a net revenue return that wouldn’t be enough for them?

    Long-term there wasn’t any net revenue return even before you take into consideration all the additional costs involved.

    Note that the $17.5 million so far doesn’t include the budgeted contractors fees of around $120 million. Treasury also budgeted $6 million for the cost of consultants.

    Then there is the $200 million liability for the taxpayer if a share giveaway goes ahead. I’m a bit confused on Nationals current position on their planned give-away of energy company shares… Who wouldn’t be with all the flip-flopping that’s been going on.

    Asset sales will only be beneficial to those who can invest… In other words it’s another transfer of wealth from the taxpayer to the already rich.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Asset sales will only be beneficial to those who can invest… In other words it’s another transfer of wealth from the taxpayer to the already rich.

      Which, of course, has been the whole point of privatisation since time immemorial as it sets up society to be dependent upon the few allowing the few to demand more of the communities wealth.

  7. Salsy 7

    The backers must have shrivelled up despite the tax cuts – On Bombers show last week Selwyn Manning pointed out:

    Businesses are pulling donor support for the National Party, causing its tory apparatchiks to request MPs each deposit up to $30k over the next year into the party’s coffers

    • tc 7.1

      They’re waking up to a tanking economy is actually not good for business, your gated community only works if there’s a functioning society outside it.

      • Rogue Trooper 7.1.1

        same as your “gated” church; plenty of those to be seen. What do the fearful think those gates will hold?

  8. Wayne 8

    There is nothing in the Stuff article that says the Prime Minister, or anyone else in Govt, saying the case should go straight to the Supreme Court. That is made up. It cannot even be considered a generous interpretation of the Stuff article.

    Instead John Key said the case is likely to go to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. That is surely stating the obvious. I am sure whoever looses at the High Court will appeal, and the appeal will go all the way to the Supreme Court.

    • One Tāne Huna 8.1

      Jeez Wayne, do you think they might have edited the story?

      That mendacious wretch, the Prime Minister, has certainly expressed his worthless opinion on the subject::

      Mr Key said the order in council was not required till March next year so there was no issue with it being delayed today.

      But lawyers would be talking to the High Court about the potential to fast track the process.

      “One option would be to go straight to the Supreme Court. Probably the more likely option to speed things up is straight to the Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court.”

      • Wayne 8.1.1

        Well, the article you have linked to is a different article to the one linked in the original post. However, I see why the original post made the statement it did: a pity it was not linked.

        The celebrated case Lands case of 1987 did get transferred from the High Court to the Court of Appeal, so I imagine that is the precedent the PM was using. The Crown’s legal advisors (probably the AG) would have advised the PM of that. Interestingly, the Lands case never went to the Privy Council, but I think we can be reasonably certain that this case will go to the Supreme Court.

        [lprent: We get that sometimes. Much of the time these posts are written many hours prior to the time they go up on site – in this case it was correct at 0720 this morning.

        The news media usually backup the originals to a new set of numbers and we’re linked to the newly edited one. Sometimes it goes the other way. There is usually some editing that goes on after ‘publication’. The nature of a dynamic media. And bloggers are not really interested in chasing journo’s getting their tail in the editorial scissors. ]

        • toad

          The article linked in the original post was subsequently edited to update (and delete the “Red Ron” reference, for which Audrey Young presumably received a slap over the hand).

          [lprent: Updated the post with your link above. Thanks again. ]

      • felix 8.1.2

        In Wayne’s World, when a politician wants to lean on the court they just come right out and say “I want this court to do (x), or else”

        Otherwise it didn’t happen.

        Party time. Excellent.

    • Georgecom 8.2

      Wayne, excellent news about the petition nearing 308,000 signatures eh. As predicted, we get a vote on whether we want our assets to be sold. You get a vote on whether you want our assets sold. Makes every signature I collected worth it.

  9. captain hook 9

    they getting greedier and slimier and nastier by the day.
    intrusive too.
    Now that they have their hands on the levers of power they seem to have no hesitation in using them to pry and snoop and generally try and destablilise anyone who is agin them.
    They are coming to represent a travesty of democracy and the sooner they are tossed out the better.

  10. Our Switch Off Mercury Energy banner made pg A5 in today’s NZ Herald!


    Crown says ownership of water should not be considered at next month’s hearing.

    Despite protests, Prime Minister John Key still believes the partial sale of Mighty River Power could go ahead between March and June next year. Photo / Brett Phibbs

    Want more information about HOW to SWITCH OFF MERCURY ENERGY (100% owned by Mighty River Power), and where to SWITCH?

    Click to access SOME-11-September-2012-Switch-off-leaflet6g.pdf

    Penny Bright

  11. Georgecom 11

    off topic slightly TV3 news reports that half or more of kiwis think Key and his govt are failing to deliver a brighter future (love that one coming back to bite National), deal with unemployment or build a better education system.

    Personally I think Key et al are doing a good job…of getting a labour-green govt elected in 2014. Keep up the good work Mr Key.

    • Lanthanide 11.1

      I’d much rather he did a good job of getting a Labour-Green government elected in 2011, or failing that, 2013.

  12. AmaKiwi 12

    I’d prefer a snap election. It only takes one heart attack or stroke.

  13. xtasy 13

    ALL this to me is totally inconvincing. Labour will look at asset sales too, and they have and will do it again. I have NO faith in Shearer and Labour, they are all hollow personalities talking crap now. NZers in general are sell-out people, why do tens of thousands decide to leave their own country and not fight for it? It is symptomatic of a truly gutless people, that is my observation. At least the Boers in South Africa took a stand, so for wrong reasons, but others did for other reasons.

    The average “Kiwi” is shitting her/himself when the neighbourhood turns Asian or Polynesian, so they decide to move to the Gold Coast. That is the truth of the story. It is largely a white exodus, who are disillusioned with the “Zimbabwe” they perceive their own country has become. Maori also leave, for more pragmatic reasons. This is a coward country, handing it over to new Asian migrants, by sellling their homes, land and business and NOT taking a bloody stand. NZers are the most gutless people I ever met, and I stand by my European comment. Do you not doubt this, you are too much of gutless cowards, that is why this goverment gets away with what it does. In most countries it would NOT happen, as they would stand up. But not in NZ, where every home owner and business person thinks more about what she/he can get out of migrants in the way of cheap labour and so to make ends meet. Feel Fucking Ashamed, property owning and business NZ to let your own people down. Crap country, best place to get OUT of, I’d say, yet again. Listen all prospective migrants, there is A MESSAGE!

    • just saying 13.1

      I don’t think there will a lot of prospective migrants reading the Standard. In fact I doubt there will be any. I’m not sure what the best forum for getting your message out would be. Maybe others could offer some suggestions.

      • xtasy 13.1.1

        I mean – as a “Kiwi” I would be BLOODY WORRIED and take a real bloody stand about what goes on in this country! I am only an adopted “Kiwi”, do most the times not even feel “at home” here, but where is your and other’ bloody stand to get this country ahead, rather than just rely on promises of vague migrant investment and shit, which never leads to anything.

        You offer me NO answer or else, none the wiser after this, but thanks! Good Luck!

        • ropata

          so you hate white people and asians, yet Maori get a free pass for emigrating?
          you think NZ is crap and a place to get out of, yet people who do so are cowards?

          just nonsense.
          ps. marijuana in nz is ten times stronger than wherever you came from, so lay off

          • xtasy

            Ha Ropata – It is exactly what I want to challenge: For NZers to take a bloody stand for their country, Pakeha AND Maori, but both have proved in too large numbers to be disunited and cowards! I do NOT hat white people or asians, I met many, have some friends on both sides, do noyt give me that! I challenge traditional NZers on their integrity and values. And if they have, and I believe many do, any issues with migration, they should bloody stand up for it, rather than pretent otherwise. That is my point. I am yet to meet one Kiwi to speak her/his mind and stand by it totally and resolutely. It is not proved to me! I have NO interest in marijuana by the way, side issue.

            • McFlock

              Got any stats for your white-flight theory?

              • xtasy

                Ha Stats do NOT matter, IDEOLOGY matters, that is Nat ACT policy, so why do we not follow suit? Joke or not, think about it!

                • McFlock

                  The average “Kiwi” is shitting her/himself when the neighbourhood turns Asian or Polynesian, so they decide to move to the Gold Coast. That is the truth of the story. It is largely a white exodus, who are disillusioned with the “Zimbabwe” they perceive their own country has become.

                  That is a statement that would be supported or refuted by stats. But it would seem that belief in “white flight” is your ideology, held without any support in fact.

                  • xtasy

                    McFlock: I take you on right away!
                    Why are thousands of Kiwis choosing to go to Australia (mighty “white”), the US, the UK, and some selected countries in Europe (largely “white”), while the economic theory would tell us that opportunities are greater in East Asia, e.g. Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan and so forth?
                    I think most Kiwis will never admit it, but they are driven by “cultural”or “race” aspects, when they migrate.

                    • McFlock

                      You got no friends doing the “teach English in Korea” thing?
                      You’re assuming everything is equal.

                      Ever consider immigration controls, or simple tradition (puling the OE, not fleeing the country)? Hell, NZers get an automatic visa for Aus, and I believe there are a number of visa options for the UK (which gets you to Europe). The US has aggressive student work experience recruiting programmes, as well.
                      But again, you pull “thousands” out of your arse because “stats are not important”. 

                    • xtasy

                      Stats are not going to solve the issues, the issues are larger than figures and stats, they are about population figures globally, the climate change realite, the environmental realities, and HOW you can solve “global” problems by allowing migration into NZ to “ease” pressures elsewhere. What about water resources, land limitations, and other resource limitations? I presume for you it is the economic calculation meaning, the more consumption, the more growth. That is a dumb and primitive projection and planning, I am sorry!

                    • felix

                      “Stats are not going to solve the issues”

                      No one said they would, stats are to show what the issues are. For example, some very simple stats would show whether you’re talking out your arse about “white flight” or not.

                      Allow me to demonstrate: Most of the people I know who have gone to Oz in the last few years are maori. True story.

                      Does that prove you’re wrong? If not, why not?

          • xtasy

            Maori do not want and need a “free pass”, it would and should be in the interest of tangata whenua to represent themselves and it should ideally be a separate Maori body as Maori Council (not the one now), to be a representative body of ALL Maori, to have input in government policy of any kind. That may put a check on what the government does.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.2

      This is a coward country,

      It’s not that we’re cowards but that we’re too bloody cheap.

      Back before the 1980s Kiwis seemed to understand that things cost what they cost and getting something cheap meant that someone was missing out/being exploited. Then the 1980s happened with the 4th Labour government and businesses telling us we could have stuff far cheaper if we just let the free-market happen and we bought it. Things did become cheaper but as they did so poverty, which had been almost unheard of before, grew and inequality with it. Now it seems that NZers just aren’t willing to pay a fair amount for the products they use. They whinge about taxes and the price of things and demand that things be cheaper and as things become cheaper the poverty continues to increase.

      This leaves people looking for higher wages which only happen overseas and so they leave. They really don’t realise that the reason why NZ is declining is because of the free-market and the excessive cheapness of the products that they buy.

      Will Labour keep selling NZ to foreign buyers? Probably because they will keep telling NZers that they can have stuff cheaper and cheaper.

      It is largely a white exodus,

      In absolute terms but I believe that actual percentages show a higher rate of Maori leaving.

      • xtasy 13.2.1

        Draco: Wonderful! This is what I want, a true debate on this issue! So do not get me wrong, I am still critical, but I want people to stand in front of the mirror, thing, then get back. That is what NZ bloody needs now, no “soft porn” politics we had for too bloody long! Thanks you have contributed greatly! I look forward to more, as I hope, my provocative comment should result in.

      • xtasy 13.2.2

        AND on a percentage base, there are MORE Maori leaving than perhaps Pakeha and others. Now is that not a bloody challenge? I know of Maori doing heaps better in Aus than here, so why the hell is this?

        • McFlock

          assuming that’s true, the obvious answer isn’t so much “flight from immigrants” (especially as Aus has quite a few immigrant minorities itself) as economic migration.

          • xtasy

            Yeah, so we are back to square one, where are DA JOBS, Blinlish, Ke y and consorts?

          • xtasy

            The cowar lies within. Go and meet a neo nazi in neutral grounds in Russia, just for an enhanced discussion about where societies are moving, perhaps. I hate it, it is challenging, but the world is changing, to the worse.

      • xtasy 13.2.3

        Ha Stats do NOT matter, IDEOLOGY matters, that is Nat ACT policy, so why do we not follow suit? Joke or not, think about it!

        Also I have a complaint before the Ombudsman about physical, mental and psychological abuse by a supposed Nz “Citizen” (you’d love that!) who came into this country as a refugee, who abused a migrant woman from another country for years and got away also with migration fraud. This is before the Office now. So dumb fuck idiot smart alecs here, wake up and learn the ropes.

        See this article perhaps:


        This is damned heavy stuff, I tell you, and I have a number of other stories going on my board, you damned ignorant wannabe little shits.

        There are more bits of stories due soon, but this is not getting through, is it?

        I have to be careful, as there are serious health issues at stake, so maybe understand all this.

        This is a separate matter and needs to be treated independently and fairly, so shut up here, for a chance, as the decision will certaily be publicised eventually.

        Kind regard

        H. C.


        New Zealand

        • McFlock

          Well, I’m off to bed, but you’re sure bouncing around with the topics.
          Have fun with that. 

  14. xtasy 14

    Ha, I like to ruff a few feathers, and it seemed to work. there is always potential for migrants ad locals to work together, but it requires honesty and commitment from both sides, also honety from the government, which I and others feel, does NOT exist.

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