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No asset sales without a referendum!

Written By: - Date published: 6:45 am, June 15th, 2012 - 137 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, petition, political education, privatisation - Tags:

The asset sales petition is going gangbusters. Various groups in the coalition are reporting they’re already 20-30% of the way to their targets after only 5 weeks. The Greens have collected a massive 30,000 signatures already of their 100,000 target. So, there’s going to be a referendum. And that’s why even parties who support asset sales should agree to wait until after the people have their say.

The Greens have put up an amendment that would, if the asset sales law passes, would place a hold on any actual sales going ahead until after the referendum. That would legally have to be within 12 months of the Keep Our Assets Coalition getting the signatures it needs, so, sometime within the next year and a half.

The amendment wouldn’t prevent the Government from going ahead with sales after the referendum, no matter the result (we don’t have binding referenda in New Zealand) but it would allow us to have a clear and unequivocal say. It would be on the head of any government that would choose to ignore the result.

Peter Dunne – who holds the casting vote on both the asset sales law and this amendment – would be really, really smart to vote for the amendment. He could still vote for the asset sales law and keep the Nats on side but claim some moral high ground in saying ‘no sales until after the referendum’. Then, when the result is overwhelming opposition, he can do the commonsense shuffle and switch to opposing asset sales. It would be too late to stop the law passing but it might just save Dunne’s skin in 2014.

Now, John Key has mouthed his bullshit again that the people had their chance to vote on asset sales,and they voted National into government. He neglects to mention that we didn’t just vote on asset sales and, despite all the other reasons why voters favoured National over the Left, his coalition on asset sales still only has a one-vote majority.

But I don’t mind when Key tells the public ‘fuck off, you had your chance’ – that just makes the 50% of National voters who oppose asset sales (also known as the swing vote) all the more pissed off. And what’s he going to say next year after the referendum? Will he ignore it citing a child-like interpretation of 2-year old election instead?

137 comments on “No asset sales without a referendum! ”

  1. Carol 1

    Doesn’t John Key understand democracy? It’s more than just a minimalistic vote once every 3 years.

    Or does he just NOT LIKE democracy?

    • tc 1.1

      His opinion of democracy works just fine for him and his backers, this is a merchant banker we are talking about here so hardly filled with concepts of equity and morality.

      • Jim Nald 1.1.1

        If one schemes like an opportunist trader, it makes money sense to flog off the people’s assets now, not “despite” storm clouds:


        but PRECISELY because of storm clouds – bad time for NZ to sell them because of lower prices, great time for friends and cronies to buy them because of cheaper prices.

        All that smiling and waving in the first term to hoard up political capital can now be cashed in to bulldoze the asset sales law through Parliament.

        • dave brownz

          The old hackneyed Titanic still describes it.
          These guys are drinking in the first class lounge while the ship steams into the iceberg. As it starts sinking they are gathering up the valuables from the ships safes and jumping the queue to the lifeboats. Those rearranging the deckchairs are merely the deluded aspirants who want to die with attitude. The rest of us will be drowned or beaten to death by chandeliers or heavy baggage.
          If you really want to avoid this we need a mutiny from the lower decks.

    • burt 1.2

      No asset sales without a referendum!

      Doesn’t John Key understand democracy? It’s more than just a minimalistic vote once every 3 years.

      But when we had a Labour government the business of government was what ever government said it was… Just think all the lovers of corruption and big self serving government defended that position.

      Life is so much easier when we have a red team good government rather than a blue team bad government.

      • vto 1.2.1

        Hey Burt, I agree that the last lot also ignored the will of the people re referendums. Just as bad. And they were rightly called on it.

        So here is a solution – stop seeing everything in terms of blue or red. Switch and swap – it aint some religion that you pledge allegiance to. If the blue pricks act like they have no brains then call them out. If the red wobblers act with arrogance, call them out too. And manouerve your vote and politics accordingly. After all, both lots get away with this sort of shit simply because they have great hordes of blind fans pledging lifetime allegiance wthout thinking about things.

        Could you do that?

        • KJT

          And VTO. You are right. Both sides are contemptuous of democracy.

          Any suggestion that voters can call the Government to account is equally unpopular on both the Labour and National sides.

          I was not impressed with my party, the Greens, when they ignored opposition to the “give the cops more power to harass poor people bill”. Otherwise called the anti-smacking bill.

          • aerobubble

            The role of the voter is to vote out incompetence. Key would not be in power had the media not run Key-WINS-in-landslide turning off many voters who would have voted him out. The same talking heads on the box are still there, still fawning over Key (but less obviously).

            Key lies every time he makes the statement that government debt is the problem.
            Key lies every time he says he going to get the books back into surplus, since it distracts
            from core sustainability problem in NZ, the unbalanced tax system that rewards
            farming capital gains.
            Key lies every time he says Labour sent NZ into recession a year earlier, no that
            was the Reserve Bank raising interest rates to stymie the housing bubble.
            Key won’t discuss why he gave a massive tax cut to the wealthiest, and why
            selling assets to them, is good for the economy, because the economy is not the
            few, its the many.
            Key won’t discuss why Kiwis are flocking to Australia where there is a capital
            gains tax, a income threshold before any tax is levied…

            …look Key is not the PM of NZ, he’s just seating warming for Australian (mostly) owners of the NZ economy. As an Australian I feel I need to do my duty and buy up those energy assets, but as a resident I know that it will only cost be more in the long term as Labour will either win power in a landslide, or National will have to cut more, borrow even more, to fuel the tax cuts for the richest to create yet more abysmal growth, patching the problem and thus making it worse. That we do not invest in the real economy, rather in naff housing.

          • Draco T Bastard

            I would be more upset about that if the referendum question hadn’t been designed to get a ‘no’ answer.

          • belladonna

            Dont talk rubbish, the anti smacking bill was to stop children being beaten with an implement.
            Seems a reasonable move for a civilised country to me.

            • Bob

              And the Mixed ownership model bill is to increase New Zealands investment opportunities. Thanks for showing how easy it is to allow people to move on belladonna.

              • Colonial Viper

                Increase investment opportunities for the incompetent rich who can’t build assets up themselves from scratch, but instead need to steal them from public ownership for a song.

                • Bob

                  Stop incompetant parents from beating their children while criminalising parents that apply a corrective smack to stop dangerous behaviour, i.e trying to touch a heater.

                  See how easy this game is?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Easy money now is what investors want, not the long arduous journey of creating assets from scratch over the years.

        • True Freedom is Self-Governance


      • SMSD 1.2.2

        So your reasoning seems to be:

        When Labour did x, that proved that Labour were corrupt and self serving.

        National are doing x, and that is ok, because Labour did it.


    • KJT 1.3

      Key is there to repeat the coup of the 80’s.

      The biggest burglary ever committed in New Zealand.

    • True Freedom is Self-Governance 1.4

      I think modern democracy is a joke. Ever notice how quickly Western neighbourhood-watch type countries will move in to promote democracy in countries with dictatorships while quietly backing the puppet they would like in charge, a puppet who will sell all that countries resources to them for cheap rather than use them for the good of their own people. I believe Key is one of those placed here to dupe us out of our resources and many New Zealanders of the “following rather than thinking for myself” persuasion fell for his “nice guy, self-made, like to have a beer with him” persona. Turkeys.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.4.1

        I believe Key is one of those placed here to dupe us out of our resources…

        Yep, he certainly has done everything to make his rich mates far better off at our expense.

    • Dr Terry 1.5

      Exactly! There is no equation between Key and democracy. He is at best a benign Dictator.

      • Macro 1.5.1

        “Dictator” – yes
        “benign” – only if your in the top 10% maybe, for the rest of the population – key’s reign will leave them more impoverished.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.5.2

        No dictators are benign.

    • Enough is Enough 1.6

      Labour and the Greens can kill this bill in it tracks.

      They need to make every single Kiwi know that when they are returned to Government in 2014 this legislation will be repealed and any assets that have been sold under this legislation will be renationalised.

      Noone wil waste their cash on an investment which will return nothing in 2 years time.

      It is a simple solution.

      • lefty 1.6.1

        Enough is enough is correct.

        It would be a much more appropriate response for Labour and the Greens to let prospective purchasers that their ownership will not be recognised by them if they become government than pushing for CIR.

        CIR is not a tool of democracy, but a mechanism deployed when the politicians aren’t up for the fight and want to divert popular anger from direct action or real challenges to the system to a symbolic waste of time and effort that preserves the status quo.

        Generally CIR is a weapon of the right and it is very susceptable to being used by glib populists for opposing progress.

        You can just imagine the sort of result a CIR on whether benefit should be paid to sole parents or those who had no job would be.

        Or on whether workers should be allowed to form or join unions.

        We already know what a CIR on assaulting children and one on how we treat criminals results in.

        Just because in this case it is being used for a more progressive cause doesn’t mean it is a good mechanism.

        In fact even in this case it is being used by some of the very same politicians who have sold assets in the past, and are quite happy to sign up to free trade agreements that give away our sovereignty, so to that extent it is still a weapon in the hands of the right rather than a way of enhancing democracy.

        If we want democracy then we have to give people real decision making power in their workplaces, in their communities and over everything that has a direct effect on their lives in a direct and immediate way, not a one of referendum on whatever topic the politicians of the day choose to do a beat up on.

        That would be very the last thing the elitist technocrats in the social democrat Greens and Labour parties want.

      • Georgecom 1.6.2

        Labour and the Greens can do a good job of HELPING to overturn the asset sales, but the rest of us all have a role. That means getting the petition around for signing at the very least.

  2. Tom Gould 2

    Only a ‘teapot’ deal will save Dunne in 2014, and he knows it. Sad really, to see a formerly proud bloke so utterly compromised and hollowed out that there is nothing much left of him. Pathetic.

    • Dr Terry 2.1

      Does Dunne intend to stand again in 2014? Having so abused the wishes of so many of the people in his own electorate (over asset sales), one would think surely he must see this as his last term! Regardless, his constituents will ensure that it is his last term.

  3. Jenny 3

    This is a wonderful initiative by the Greens.

    The Greens have collected a massive 30,000 signatures already……


    Let us Challenge the Labour Party to match and beat that.

    • Vic Labour and Wellington Central have collected over 4,000 signatures by themselves …

      • Jim Nald 3.1.1

        I have been watching with greatest interest the number of signers endorsing the Avaaz.org petition (an initiative from an individual who posted it and which will NOT carry weight for the PARLIAMENTARY petition) that provides the advantage of online convenience with just a click to a url and a few quick fields to fill in: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Oppose_NZ_Asset_Sales/?tta

        Avaaz shot up very quickly in the past 36 hours from about 11000 when I first saw it, to about 22500 now. That gives some indication that the numbers should be there on the streets for the Parliamentary petition and it is a matter of providing opportunities for people to sign up.

        • Pascal's bookie

          Hopefully people clicking on the internet won’t have thought they’ve already signed when presented with the actual petition eh.

          • felix

            Hmm, that’s probably an important message to spread on facespace.

            • freedom

              it is a point that i make sure gets very clearly stated whenever either petition is mentioned on fb, that and how in three short years we would have the six billion by reversing tax cuts plus the income from the Assets.

              Strangely even some well informed people have had trouble coping with the difference.
              here is a handy page for ongoing updates on petition collection locales

        • Vicky32

          I have been watching with greatest interest the number of signers endorsing the Avaaz.org petition (an initiative from an individual who posted it and which will NOT carry weight for the PARLIAMENTARY petition)

          I’ve just signed that one today….

  4. just saying 4

    Don’t care about what the “swing voter” thinks.
    The aspirations of the comfortable and smug should not continue to set the direction of all major political parties. That way lies ruin.
    There’s pragmatism and then there’s opportunistic self-delusion.

  5. cxity girl 5

    Even though the Asset Sales policy is the political kiss of death, Key has other obligations. He is not there to win another election for National, he is there to flog off our assets (read revenue stream) to those murky people in the background who pull the strings.

    • Bored 5.1

      Boags constituency, the money men behind the Round Table, the Parnell / Remuera mafia.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      Yep, which is why the opposition really need to say that they will renationalise as soon as they’re back in power.

  6. vto 6

    Well just like the sale of the Crafar Farms resulted in New Zealand’s capital base shrinking…

    so too will these asset sales reduce New Zealand’s capital base.


    • Jim Nald 6.1

      This greedy and selfish lot in power are not so concerned about the shrinking pie just as long as their personal slices get bigger. They will walk away to another table, eg in Hawaii, when they have taken what they can.

    • yeshe 6.2

      not gone yet, I don’t think …. sale is still in the the court process …

  7. Zetetic 7

    Labour hutt south had a thousand of its five thousand target after three weeks

  8. Kevin Welsh 8

    PeteG must be having the day off…

    • KJT 8.1


      “Never, in the history of mankind, have so many words been used to say so little””. Apologies to Churchill’s speech writer.

    • Dr Terry 8.2

      Yes, one is astounded by his sudden silence, whereas he usually so loves to dominate comments always seeking the “last word”!

  9. tracey 9

    Exactly where is the petition. Havent seen it in auckland.

    • Georgecom 9.1

      Tracey, its here:

      You’ll find it in Auckland at all the places you frequent in the next 2 months if you carry a copy around with you for signing.

      I have a copy at work and people coming into the building sign it. About 8 pages filled in thus far. Easy stuff.

  10. tracey 10

    Perhaps the thinking is, sell no matter what, sure up payback to corporate global financiers, then know that the next govt will take two years to buy them back, and those selling will sell for a much higher price than they bought, and voila, double win for the 1%

    • Bored 10.1

      We can turn this into a big loss for the 1%ers…. long term interest rates are going to slump so buying back could be really cheap on an interest basis…the issue is how to make the buy back price really low. There are a number of options here:

      * declare the price of energy an emergency issue and regulate it down to cost…voila no profit, no dividend….share price goes down down down.
      * have the Greens / Labour announce immediately a re-acquisition plan that states that the sahres will be bought compulsorily at buy price or market price if below.
      * incoming government buys 5% of the shares on the market so that they are clear majority shareholders then run everything at a loss, therefore depressing the share price. Next step buy up more shares at low cost until it is viable to run a profit and to buy the rest back from the profit.

      The last option is really just corporate raiding / asset stripping of minor shareholders, happens all the time. Evil I know, could not happen to nicer people.

  11. Rememberer 11

    Remember the previous CIR on the number of MPs.

    The Greens and Labour totally ignored it.

    Corruption is still alive and well in all parties

    • The Baron 11.1

      99 MPs was a dumb idea though.

      As was the firefighters pay one.

      The smacking one was also ignored – not going to comment. I don’t have kids, I got smacked, couldn’t care too much.

      In fact, have any of them not been ignored? But to scream corruption at that makes you look like another moron. There’s a reason why we haven’t introduced binding referenda – they can make even more of a mess if you bind your legislature to demagoguery.

      Remmeber: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” You might disagree with that sentiment, but that’s the model we have and it works better sometimes than the direct will of the people.

  12. smokeskreen 12

    Where is the Maori Party in all of this? If they were to vote against asset sales wouldn’t that be the end of it?

    • deuto 12.1

      The Maori Party voted against the Mixed Ownership Bill yesterday (second reading) but the National, UF and Act votes for it totalled 61 vs the 59 votes against – Labour, Greens, NZF, MP and Mana.

      • marsman 12.1.1

        I thought only 2 Maori Party MPs voted against. I thought with Dunne and Banks alone NAct would have a majority of only one for their rip-off scam.

        • deuto

          Good point. I haven’t gone back to recheck the broadcast of the vote, but my rough notes at the time show only 2 MP votes, not 3. The totals of 61 for and 59 against tally with the numbers reported on Stuff etc. So, one MP abstention? Tried to get into the Parliament site to check the record, but it kept throwing me out, so will attempt to check later.

        • Zetetic

          That’s why the vote was a 59, and 61. one of the maori party mps didn’t even bother to vote

          • deuto

            In light of this news release by Flavell yesterday (14 June) on the Maori Party website, I find it interesting/disturbing that one of their three MPs did not vote and would think it was a deliberate decision on the part of that MP not to do so, as party votes are usually cast as a block for all MPs of that party.

            “The Maori Party position on asset sales is unequivocal – we do not support the Bill and we will be voting against it” says Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell. “No buts, no maybes. Just a flat out kaore”.

            Despite not supporting the Bill, the Maori Party still secured the Treaty of Waitangi clause in the legislation.

            “The Maori Party is making a difference for Maori and it’s on the record, Harawira’s Party only has bluster to rely on and no results”.

            But rest assured, we’ll remind Harawira to turn up to vote this time.”

            “And when the Bill comes before the House this afternoon, the Maori Party will continue to oppose the legislation”.

            “This has been our position from day one of this Government, when we had our opposition explicitly confirmed in the Relationship Accord (“The Māori Party does not support partial asset sales. The Government agrees it will not put partial asset sales in confidence and supply measures’).

            So presumably it was not Flavell that did not vote – leaving Sharples or Turia …..

  13. Dr Terry 13

    Key continues to smirk about the “endorsement” he received for asset sales in November. His supporters cannot be exactly exonerated for what they did. Too many of them thought they could “have it both ways”, keep Key in office but see him drop the one unfortunate policy of the sales. Well, that tactic has failed miserably, and look where it has left us all.

  14. John M 14

    I’d initially thought that Dunne’s too stupid to understand how the referendum’s his opportunity to climb down gracefully from all of this but the fact Pete George hasn’t commented on this post might suggest Dunne’s thinking about it. Pete George, with his totally unstrategic defence of Dunne has had the effect of helping to force Dunne into a corner. Surely Dunne must be looking for a way out and if the referendum isn’t his best bet for 2014 (and his legacy) I don’t know what is. If Dunne’s seriously thinking of supporting holding off untill the result of the referendum then the first thing he needs to do is shut Pete George up.

    • I would say PG hasn’t commented because there’s a gig on in Dunners tonight.
      “But I don’t mind when Key tells the public ‘fuck off, you had your chance’ – that just makes the 50% of National voters who oppose asset sales (also known as the swing vote) all the more pissed off. And what’s he going to say next year after the referendum? Will he ignore it citing a child-like interpretation of 2-year old election instead”.

      I don’t see how a charge of Key being unreasonable sticks given the anti-smacking bill would have effectively been sunk without his support. The public’s perception is probably: ” Key has been reasonable in the past, ergo he may have a case for partial asset sales.
      As for asset sales, it’s a different environment than the ’80’s and ’90’s when flogging assets was all the rage, even on the left. My take on partial asset sales based on my own experience:

      • felix 14.1.1

        Flogging assets was never the rage on the left. When the neoliberals took over the Labour party in the 80s, the left didn’t want a bar of it.

    • the fact Pete George hasn’t commented on this post

      …is because I’ve been out of town for a couple of days and have had a break from blogging, despite what some seem to think I don’t live on the internet.

      the first thing he needs to do is shut Pete George up.

      Odd statement, he can’t do that, I speak for myself. I happen to have similar thoughts on a number of things to UF, I made the same commitments during the campaign on asset sales, I maintain a (mutually useful) relationship with UF and Peter Dunne, and I respond to any questions people throw at me about UF because I can, but I’m continuing with what I started independently three years ago. I’ve had more liason with Labour than UF this week.

      I have a busy day, am off to a meeting soon, but will comment here when I get time.

      • freedom 14.2.1

        Pete George, you have made two postings today and neither have answered the very simple and some would say important question that is awaiting your answer .. .. ..

        Open mike 15/06/2012

      • John M 14.2.2

        Nice to see you back, Pete. My point/advice is that if Dunne wants to use the referendum as a way to save his political future he should start by telling you to stop trying to defend his current stance on asset sales.

        • Pete George

          It’s ludicrous to hold up the political process for a referendum that is far from certain. If that started it would start an avalanche of attempted political interference.

          • KJT

            Yeah. Heaven help us if the general population actually are allowed a say in political decisions.

            Definitely wouldn’t do!

            Or. As Lincoln said. “If voting made any difference it would be banned”.

            • Pete George

              The problems are:
              – our petition/referendum system is flawed, it was designed by politicians and almosty certainly ineffectiveness was a key design parameter
              – a fully referendum driven political process wouldn’t work, we need to find the right balance of a hybrid representative/people power system that can work in real time, not a year or two too late.

            • Vicky32

              As Lincoln said. *

              Except that it probably wasn’t Lincoln! I’ve noticed that almost everything is attributed by New Zealanders/Americans to Mark Twain, George Carlin or Lincoln – even Shakespeare and the Bible! 😀
              Google’s best guess is that it was actually Emma Goldman!

          • RedLogix

            What’s changed since the election is that more and more people are realising all the fish-hooks in this Partial Asset Sale process and are having a bad case of buyer’s remorse.

            Now personally I’d have fewer problems with the process if:

            1. At least 25% of the shares were simply transferred to the Super Fund; another 10-15% reserved for Iwi, and the remaining 9% or so could only be owned by New Zealand based and owned entities. No overseas buyers at all. Lot’s of New Zealanders are looking to Greece, Spain and Italy to see what happens when you allow overseas owners too much control over your economy.

            2. The new entity must retain ownership of it’s existing assets. That is the other nasty loophole that was not made clear before the election… that while the Crown might retain 51% of the shareholding in the parent company… this is no way stopped the company from selling off all its actual assets. Keys’ refusal to plug this obvious loophole in the legislation signals loud and clear that he wants it there.

          • John M

            Yeah, that’s right, Pete. Let’s repeal the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993 because it interferes with our democracy. You’re a bloody genius.

      • Matt 14.2.3

        “I happen to have similar thoughts on a number of things to UF,”

        UF (aka Peter Dunne) has only two concerns: what will keep Peter Dunne employed , preferably with the trappings of a minister, and which product provides the best volume, shine, and bounce. So where exactly do your “thoughts” on these “things” converge or diverge with P.D.?

        • Pete George

          From that I guess you don’t have anywhere near the knowledge of what is going on within UF that I do.

          • John M

            So you don’t think Peter Dunne will be remembered as the man who sold NZ down the river?

            • Pete George

              I don’t see why he should be rememembered for something he hasn’t done.

              He might be remembered by some as the man who didn’t flip flop to rescue their failed anti campaign dominated election for them.

  15. Kevin 15

    The 2011 Election was a referendum and National won the majority of seats and were able to form a majority led coalition.
    Every New Zealander was given ample opportunity to express themselves in the 2011 election, National were totally upfront on their Partial Asset Sale programme, therefore demands for a non binding referendum to revisit this issue is silly and vexatious.
    In addition to that Peter Dunne increased his majority in Ohariu and National increased it’s share of the Party Vote therefore any suggestion that Peter Dunne will face a voter backlash is incorrect.

    • Te Reo Putake 15.1

      If it the election was a referendum, which it was not, then National lost. They went from having a solid majority in the previous Parliament to having only Peter Dunne standing between them and humiliation. The total number of MP’s elected who opose the theft of these assets increase to 59, including the unlikely return of Winston Peters, who stood on a platform of opposition to the asset sales.
      I’m really sorry you don’t approve of citizen initiated referenda, Kevin, but I think we’ll carry on regardless, because that’s what the majority of Kiwis want.

      • tc 15.1.1

        Another Uf troll…whatever who cares and interesting twist of maths there.

        They have no majority without UF and Blinky so that’s hardly a mandate.

    • John M 15.2

      I think you are Pete George and that you’ve changed your name to Kevin because Peter Dunne has told you to shut up but being Pete George you can’t help yourself.

      [lprent: Read the policy on privacy and consider that only the moderators can have any chance of knowing one way or another. Speculation about who people really are is a classic flamewar starter and usually earns a rapid ban because we can’t be bothered with anyone foolish enough to start such a ‘nah-nah’ thread.

      As a side issue – someone that thinks a candidate dropping their vote by about 2k votes (when turnout increased) and getting less than a third of the electorate vote in a 3 way race somehow ‘won’ an increased mandate can only be regarded as being something of an idiot. Dunne had a ‘increased’ majority of about 300 votes because of a shift in the vote split between Labour and National meant that he now has both major parties sitting right on his electoral tail. That would have been a much simpler and less dangerous tack to take.

      BTW: It doesn’t look like PG to me. ]

    • John M 15.3

      “Every New Zealander was given ample opportunity to express themselves in the 2011 election, National were totally upfront on their Partial Asset Sale programme, therefore demands for a non binding referendum to revisit this issue is silly and vexatious.”

      So are you saying, Pete, that nobody should be able to intiate referenda on issues that a government campaigned on? I cannot even begin to describe how ridiculous such a proposition is. Even accepting government does have a mandate, does this mean people can’t change their minds? We live in a democracy. If what you’re saying is right then the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993 would’ve prevented things so “silly and vexatious”.

      [lprent: read my previous note. ]

    • vto 15.4

      What a pathetic bullshit argument.

      The Maori Party has been elected to government as well, so you should be implenting every single one of their policies too.

      …. following your pathetic bullshit argument

      politicians are just lucky that the bulk of the population are too busy getting on with their lives to notice the stinking shit they do and spout. it is the only reason the gates are not stormed imo.

  16. Rich 16

    It would be too late to stop the law passing but it might just save Dunne’s skin in 2014.

    Let’s hope he doesn’t, then.

    [Also, I think the people of Ohairu are sufficiently selfish that, while they might have a mild distaste for assets sales, they’re hugely keen on less income tax and no capital gains on their rental properties. We’ll only get rid of Dunne if he either dies or gets caught in some kind of heinous corruption scandal.]

  17. vto 17

    Shivering in cold snowy wet Christchurch without a fire to keep us warm. Only expensive foreign-owned unreliable electric powered two bar heaters for Christchurch people in draughty broken homes.

    Aint it grand.

    The authorities are such magnificent people.

    • Bored 17.1

      I feel for you there, my parents are in the same boat but fortunately have a wood burner. I was really shocked when I was recently in Chch the city seemed to have two sides..the west where the damage was less and the fixes faster…and the east where it is all seems broken and too slowly fixed. Made me realise that fixing small damage can be done quickly BUT bigger damage not only takes longer but also requires more planning, logistics, admin etc and therefore time. Meanwhile those affected wait, wait , wait and shiver.

      Wellington today has a chill factor of “a lot”. It got better for me when I sold the big house and got half the floor space.

      • vto 17.1.1

        Christchurch is definitely today a city of two halves. You can split it down Colombo Street.

  18. FYI – contains FACTS about the pre-election positions on asset sales of Peter Dunne (United Future) and John Banks (ACT) ………………

    Arguably, according to United Future and ACT stated policy during the 2011 election – both of them should support a referendum on asset sales?

    (United Future – Peter Dunne) ” We need a conversation that is more detailed and drills down into what New Zealanders really think are acceptable bottom lines” .

    (ACT – John Banks “ACT will continue to advocate for sensible SOE policy. A Party vote for ACT is a vote to:
    • Continue a rational, evidence based debate about the role of government ownership in the economy.”


    Chris wrote: “You fundamentally misunderstand the concept of an electoral mandate, Penny. The last election was a classic example of a clear choice offered to an electorate: To Sell or Keep the State’s assets. The combination of parties favouring the sale of state assets won a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives. They are, therefore, perfectly within their rights to claim an electoral mandate for their programme. There was no hidden agenda. There were no tricks. If NZ had wanted to keep the assets it would have, collectively, given more votes to the parties opposing asset sales. Clearly, NZ did not do this. And, I’m sorry, but the 800,000 who did not vote cannot be factored into this equation. They took themselves out of the game. End of story.”

    Penny Bright How about ‘SEEKING TRUTH FROM FACTS’ Chris?

    THIS is what United Future’s Peter Dunne and ACT’s John Banks actually campaigned on during the 2011 election. I suggest you read it carefully?


    Asset Sales

    The National has a manifesto that includes asset sales. New Zealanders need to start a proper debate on the future limits of those sales.

    To this point there has not been a proper national debate beyond National saying ‘yes’ and Labour saying ‘no’.

    We need a conversation that is more detailed and drills down into what New Zealanders really think are acceptable bottom lines.

    New Zealanders are not definitively pro-asset sales, but under certain conditions, it is no longer the bogeyman issue that Labour would have you believe.

    UnitedFuture’s role as a support partner is not just to contribute its own policies, but to help keep a government to a reasonable, centrist path.

    UnitedFuture says let’s start with three no-go areas where there would be no asset sales, not now, not ever

    Kiwibank, Radio New Zealand and the water supply should be ruled out of any future asset sales programmes

    Kiwibank is in every sense now a national institution, whether you bank with it or not. And in a market full of Australian-owned banks, and an increasingly fraught and troubled globe, it is both a symbolic and practical statement of our economic sovereignty. Collectively, it is ours pure and simple. It must stay that way.

    Radio New Zealand exists in an increasingly commercial media marketplace, and it is more important than ever to have a voice that does not bend to the dollar, to ratings, or to external forces. Every nation needs its own voice and we need to afford that voice our collective protection.

    Water. UnitedFuture does not intend to wait until it is on the asset sales agenda. New Zealanders would never – or should never – accept a sell-off of the supply of the water, or any of the aspects around it.

    In addition, with regard to Asset Sales, UnitedFuture will insist that:

    – The New Zealand Government retains majority control (51%)

    – Shareholding by private investors be capped at 15%

    – New Zealand household investors are given preferential purchase right at time of issue.



    Government ownership of businesses and major assets has long been a controversial policy area. Over the past thirty years, many countries from the United Kingdom to India have embraced privatisation, selling previously state owned enterprises. From 1979 to 2002 over a trillion dollars of government assets were transferred from the public to the private sectors globally, and the proportion of the world economy made up by government businesses reduced to six per cent from twelve. As the World Bank recently observed: “Privatisation is now so widespread that it is hard to find countries not using the approach: North Korea, Cuba and perhaps Myanmar make up the shrunken universe of the resistant.”

    New Zealand has been a strong participant in this trend, with thirty privatisations having taken place since the mid 1980’s. Despite a few high profile failures and perceived failures, the vast majority of these have been uncontroversial and successful. Nobody today seriously believes that the Ministry of Works or New Zealand Steel, for examples, should be renationalised.

    The comprehensive international evidence after thirty years of mass privatisations worldwide is that privatisation improves the productivity of firms. The firms produce more valuable goods and services for the amount invested in them.

    Currently a debate around the potential sale of several government-owned electricity generators and coal company Solid Energy, the National party has said that they would like to sell non-controlling shares in these assets. ACT supports this policy. Privatisation is not primarily a way to get cash for the government, although that is often a justification given for it. Rather, privatisation is primarily a way to maximise the productivity of assets and companies in the economy.

    Partial privatisation exposes the firms to an element of market discipline, as private investors will demand commercial standard reporting and disclosure. As a step towards better productivity in the New Zealand economy, partial privatisation is a worthwhile policy.

    In the last parliamentary term, with ACT’s pressure and support, the government:

    • Opened up the debate about privatising some State Owned Enterprises.

    ACT will continue to advocate for sensible SOE policy. A Party vote for ACT is a vote to:

    • Continue a rational, evidence based debate about the role of government ownership in the economy.

    Penny Bright

    In my considered opinion Chris – you need to do some basic MATHS. NATIONAL campaigned on asset sales – and received enough votes to get a MINORITY of 59 out of 121 MPs.

    Arguably, according to United Future and ACT stated policy during the 2011 election – both of them should support a referendum on asset sales?

    (United Future – Peter Dunne) ” We need a conversation that is more detailed and drills down into what New Zealanders really think are acceptable bottom lines” .

    (ACT – John Banks “ACT will continue to advocate for sensible SOE policy. A Party vote for ACT is a vote to:

    • Continue a rational, evidence based debate about the role of government ownership in the economy.”

    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’


  19. ianmac 19

    The Avaaz online petition is now 23,602 on day 3. It does not replace the paper physically signed petition but must help.

    • freedom 19.1

      surely it only helps if every single one of those [now 24,208] people actually sign the paper petition. I strongly feel the person who set the petition up is well aware that this will not happen and did so knowing that a fair proportion of those who sign the on-line petition will not eventually sign the one that matters believing they have already done so.

      The most common scenario being the public signing where someone is a few meters away from a petition table or volunteer group, glances towards the activity, deduces it is the asset sales petition does the mental checklist tick and carries on walking by. I certainly signed the on-line petition but i had already signed the paper one and was aware the on-line petition had no validity in the referendum process. Sadly the online petition has no disclaimer of any kind. If you read the wording, the on-line petition contains nothing to clearly state the petition is irrelevant to the referendum. Take the final passage, “We only have days left to tell our politicians to stop the sell out. Sign the petition now and share it widely. If 25,000 of us sign it will be delivered to John Key with a giant “Aotearoa: Not For Sale” price tag! ” which is nice and all but not helpful if it doesn’t direct people to sign the paper petition.

      In short my admiration towards the effort of setting up the on-line petition is annihilated by the democratic sabotage. Not including a clear and straightforward disclaimer of its validity in the referendum process, be it a deliberate act or simple ignorance, has caused effort and resources to be wasted making sure that people sign the paper petition.

      • uke 19.1.1

        I’ve signed both & wasn’t confused.

        There’s a fairly big difference between physically signing a certified petition form and clicking online.

      • Carol 19.1.2

        I’ve signed the offline referendum petition.

        I didn’t understand the need for the online petition as well. I was more puzzled by it than confused, and have wondered what its meant to achieve. Haven’t signed it.

  20. John Key has no mandate to sell the assets and if it was one of the pillars of their election campaign why did they actively block information on the sales so that voters were not fully informed. The election was all about who we wanted as a Prime Minister and this was well orchestrated by National. People voted for John Key because he gave the perception of listening and changing direction if the public willed it. Well, he has stopped listening and the assets are being sold. http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/normal-0-false-false-false-en-gb-ja-x.html

  21. rod 21

    He’s probably relaxed about it.

  22. Johnm 22

    Have just seen Key on TV ,One Network news, saying (paraphrase) he’s looking forward to making the shares from the asset sales available to New Zealanders!
    The reality that the government represents all New Zealand people and that they through their government already own these assets in trust for the good of all New Zealanders is contemptuously ignored as if it doesn’t exist and that the only model (The NeoLiberal market and finance business model, a World Wide Disaster in Europe and the U$$$.) that exists for consideration is the already proven exploitative one of Privatisation all done as if the scoundrel has the royal prerogative! Not a hint of doubt or unease or second thought.Disgusting arrogant b*stard!

  23. TEA 23

    If only John boy had said we are selling half of the railways.
    At least 90% would agree to that !!

    • KJT 23.1

      Not a good idea. When oil reaches $200/bbl we will need the railways for transport.

      • Colonial Viper 23.1.1

        I have a suspicion. Oil will never reach $200/bbl for more than a few weeks (if it ever gets that high) before dropping again.

  24. captain hook 24

    a bit of reading over the weekend could be how many times the BNZ has been sold off and bought back and who took the profits.
    Now that it has finally found a good home (?) they have to look elsewhere to make a killing before their time is up.
    They (neanderthal money fuckers) never give up trying to take other peoples money and earnings off the rightful owners.
    At them moment they have the umbrella of parliament to hide behind but the next government will make them give it all back.
    who is kweewee this week? al pacino or robert de niro. too many mob films and they start beleieving their own publicity.

  25. Wayne 25

    The problem with the proposition of this post is that effectively James wants a rerun of the election. Assets sales was a centre piece of the campaign and National got 47%; not an absolute majority, but hugely better than their nearest rival, Labour. Both ACT and UF knew the importance of asset sales, as did the voters in their electorates – this was been well proven on The Standard. For Peter Dunne to change his mind now would be tantamount to a vote of no confidence in the Government.

    Now I know many contributors to The Standard would like that, but we don’t actually have, or want elections every six months. And people do actually expect governments to more or less carry out what they promised. When the cycle changes the same will apply with a Labour led government – they will expect to be able to carry out the core of their programme, even though their opponents won’t like it.

    So, in my view the protests against Peter Dunne will not change his mind – he will vote for the legislation at all stages – his integrity as a member of the government depends on that. But I am sure James knows the political reality of that.

    Neither will a future Labour led govt nationalize any shares sold or distort the electricity market to make the shares unprofitable. Each govt gets to make some permanent changes. No new govt tries to reverse everything of their predecessors. The idea for each new govt is work out their new agenda, not constantly rail against the past.

    • KJT 25.1

      That’s why the fuckups do not get fixed.

      What you are advocating is dictatorship, not democracy.

      Both Labour and National have been distorting the electricity market to keep the private power companies competitive. 4 Billion in extra dividends, wasn’t it.

    • Draco T Bastard 25.2

      Neither will a future Labour led govt nationalize any shares sold or distort the electricity market to make the shares unprofitable.

      There’s no such thing as an “electricity market” as it’s a natural monopoly that works best as a government service.

      The idea for each new govt is work out their new agenda, not constantly rail against the past.

      Some things need to be undone like the privatisations of natural monopolies.

    • Colonial Viper 25.3

      So, in my view the protests against Peter Dunne will not change his mind – he will vote for the legislation at all stages –

      Of course he will sell us out. Dunne will prefer to be remembered as a traitor to his country for a few dollars more after he retires from parliament, then be seen as someone who safeguards the legacy of generations of New Zealanders.

  26. Bob 26

    Didn’t we already have a referendum on this November last year? Didn’t National say this is exactly what they were going to do then? Didn’t National win the largest percentage of the vote in NZ MMP history? Didn’t Peter Dunne campaign on making sure National only sold 49% shares? Didn’t ACT campaign on supporting the Mixed Ownership Model? Or is my memory letting me down?

    Where was the referendum on buying back Kiwi Rail when Labour was in power? Or bringing in WFF? Or tax free student loans, kiwi saver, the Cullen fund, removing knighthoods……..???

    • Colonial Viper 26.1

      $10M democratic referendum to save us $120M in bankers’ fees – sounds like the deal of a century!

      • Bob 26.1.1

        We should definitely have had a referendum for Interest free Student Loans then, $10M democratic referendum to save us $571M PER ANNUM! Now thats a deal!

        • Colonial Viper

          Starve the young! Pass more money to the old and wealthy who in the 1970’s and 1980’s got their university educations FOR FREE!

          • Bob

            Starve the young? I am not sure you understand how student loans work. You borrow money to pay for your already subsidised fees, then repay the fees as a 10% cut of every dollar earnt over the repayment threshold. This process is exactly the same if you are paying interest on your loans or not. The only difference is the duration of the repayments if the loan is interest bearing, and the cost to the taxpayer if it is not. I am not sure how this is starving the young?

            Or is it more the fact that I am pointing out that what National is doing is no different to what every Government, including Labour, has ever intended to do (not always successfully), following through with its pre-election promise. So you are trying to push ideology over rationale to ‘win’ the argument?

            • Draco T Bastard

              This government selling the assets is ideology over rational and responsible government. Doesn’t matter if they promised to sell if the facts don’t back up their decision to do so. If the facts say that selling the assets is a bad idea, which they do, then the government should not sell them.

              The referendum is to tell NACT to stop the sales as it’s bad for the country.

              • Bob

                ‘If the facts say that selling the assets is a bad idea, which they do, then the government should not sell them.’ I completely agree, if they were actually selling the assets but they aren’t, they are proposing a private/public partnership similar to the one that has lead to Air NZ being voted Airline of the Year twice in 2010 and 2012 http://atwonline.com/airline-finance-data/article/atws-2012-airline-year-air-new-zealand-0127 . Also, the funds raised from the sale are going to be used to purchase further assets, so the net outcome is (potentially) the same in terms of income, but it would allow this income to be diversified rather than all eggs in the Electricity basket. You will struggle to find a financial advisor worth his salt that wouldn’t tell you to do the same!

                The only report I have seen come out to say this is a bad idea is the one sanctioned by the Green party, and if this is anything to go by http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/06/12/the-longest-most-high-resolution-most-inconvenient-paleoclimate-data-that-hasnt-been-published/ they will only ever publish information that fits their scare tactic agenda, so can’t really give that much credence either.

                Another thought, when Telecom was sold back in the late 80’s prices were sky high. I remember it costing around $1/min to call the South Island from the B.O.P. Since it was sold, the ComCom have absolutely hammered the prices into the ground. Couldn’t we expect something similar for power companies as well?

                • Colonial Viper

                  I remember it costing around $1/min to call the South Island from the B.O.P. Since it was sold, the ComCom have absolutely hammered the prices into the ground. Couldn’t we expect something similar for power companies as well?

                  Bad – in fact, useless – analogy

                  Just look at the pricing we pay for cellphones and broadband. Double, triple, quadruple overseas rates.

                  You’ve also forgotten that Telecom could drop pricing for us far further – but their priority is to send hundreds of millions of dollars offshore to their foreign owners.

                  • Carol

                    The drop in costs of phone calls internationally have a lot to do with technological changes. The fact that costs have remained relatively high in NZ has a lot to do with privatisation.

                  • Bob

                    Telecom’s pricing in NZ is so high for 2 main reasons, both to do with the initial sale. Firstly, they are not allowed to charge for local calls like almost every other country in the world does, secondly, they have to charge farmer Joe who is 20km from the nearest exchange, exactly the same amount as a person living in the centre of town. Both of these a legislated for, both of these are fair, both of these drive up the cost to city dwellers leading to the pricing you see now.

                    Also, check the UK rates, convert them back to NZD (approx 1:2 at the moment), you will be surprised how similar they are to NZ.

                • Colonial Viper

                  they are proposing a private/public partnership similar to the one that has lead to Air NZ being voted Airline of the Year twice in 2010 and 2012 http://atwonline.com/airline-finance-data/article/atws-2012-airline-year-air-new-zealand-0127 .

                  I love selective public-private partnerships.

                  Thanks for giving us a great reason to partialise nationalise Telecom, Vodafone, National Bank, BNZ and Westpac, don’t you think?

                  Also it is important that we partially nationalise all the private schools in this country, as well as all mining and refining infrastructure we have.

                  Road carriers should also be partially nationalised, as should strategic firms like Fonterra.

                  Thanks for your vote of support and pointing out how good public-private partnerships can be.

                  • Bob

                    Completely agree, in fact, one of the first things National did when they came into office was to effectively buy back half of Telecom (the valuable part at least) as part of the UFB deal. They are also proposing investing the $ raised from the Power company float to purchase more shares. So this referendum goes against exactly what you have just proposed!

                    • Colonial Viper

                      one of the first things National did when they came into office was to effectively buy back half of Telecom (the valuable part at least) as part of the UFB deal.

                      BULLSHIT SPIN

                      Unless of course you can tell me how many million telecom shares the NATs purchased.

                      In reality: the NATs gave foreign owned Telecom a shit load of tax payer money to do UFB (when Telecom should have put its own money down) and then guaranteed Telecom’s foreign owners a UFB monopoly. Its about as dumbass as you can get.

                    • Bob

                      Colonal Viper, how is this spin?
                      “Telecom will split Chorus off into a separate company by the end of 2011 and CFH will invest NZ$929 million directly in Chorus with 50% being non-voting shares and 50% interest free loans.[3] For the other three companies, they will each form a joint venture known as a Local Fibre Company with CFH: Whangarei Local Fibre Company Limited, UltraFast Broadband Limited.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_Fibre_Holdings Unfortunately I can’t link to the ‘Outline of UFB agreement’ PDF for you to read through, but it says exactly the same.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Telecom is presently getting over $1b in subsidy to do what we’ve already paid it to do. The reason why they didn’t do it was because they pulled out huge amounts in profit instead and then waited until the government coughed up the subsidy.

                  The only thing Telecom is proof of is the dead weight loss of profit.

                  And, despite the BS that you’re peddling, this government is selling the assets. That’s what the shares are – a claim on our assets that doesn’t produce anything. Those other bits and pieces should have been funded from normal income – you know, the income that this government cut with tax cuts for the rich.

                • xtasy

                  “Also, the funds raised from the sale are going to be used to purchase further assets, so the net outcome is (potentially) the same in terms of income, but it would allow this income to be diversified rather than all eggs in the Electricity basket.”

                  The assets they intend to “buy” or build are as far as I have heard going to be schools, hospitals, prisons, some highways and the likes.

                  Now, how are you going to earn “revenue” directly from schools and hospitals? Maybe introduce more user pays? Highways may be tolled, but has the government given any info and examples re that?

                  Also the talk is to reduce debt.

                  While interest rates are at record lows for NZ, why sell assets earning healthy revenue while it may be cheaper to temporarily take on a bit more credit to build schools, hospitals and the likes?

                  It simply makes NO sense what NAT ACT are doing. It is simply ideological and nothing else.

                  • BernyD


                  • Bob

                    I am pretty sure that telling the market what you are proposing to buy prior to actually purchasing the shares would lead to ‘insider trading’. Not to mention the price of the shares would go through the roof ahead of any purchase, this would represent exceptionally bad value. Other than that massive oversight, a fairly well thought out arguement.

  27. xtasy 27

    Once the GFC fallout, now showing in a non sustainable, growing debt burden for affected economies in Europe, with austerity not allowing for any chance of growth out of the misery, there is going to be the inevitable crash. Europe will collapse according to domino theory, drag the states and banks down, lead to mass defaults, drag banks and public bond holders around the globe down, so there will be no other solution but to nationalise assets.

    Key and his gang are dreaming of implementing privatisation agendas of bygone days, when the ideology of privatisation, free market ideology and what goes with it were having their prime time. But the times have changed. Globalisation only benefited a few big corporations, led to the hollowing out of national economies, turned nations and people into mere gambling material on the large monopoly game board.

    The rich have got richer, most have not gained anything, instead got poorer, have to work harder and longer to simply maintain living standards.

    Add the looming energy crisis, and the picture will turn nasty.

    This economic system still adhered to by NAT ACT is about to totally collapse on a global scale, and NZ will be affected severely also.

    So instead of selling assets, there will indeed be a need to re-nationalise assets, banks and the lot, because that is what has always been necessary in such scenarios in the past.

    Look at the 1930s and other times of crisis. The market will force people to bleed, starve and fight each other in the streets, while only a responsible state management will be able to get economies out of the shit again.

    It seems that with the abundance of ignorance and brain washing, that humanity will need to learn the hard way yet again. One can only hope that we will be spared the kinds of wars that used to be the result of past collapses and disasters.

    • Re-nationalising didn’t work so well for Greece.
      You have to have strategic national assets. For example it was daft for an isolated island to buy back a plundered railway track when a shipping line might have linked it to the rest of the world.

      • Carol 27.1.1

        So it doesn’t matter that people on an isolated island don’t have an adequate transport system to travel around their homeland, as long as they are strongly connected with the trade routes of the globalising, exploitative, neoliberal world beyond?

      • Colonial Viper 27.1.2

        Re-nationalising didn’t work so well for Greece.

        Are you ignorant? Greek politicians have been led around by bankers. They’ve re-nationalised nothing. Quite the opposite. They’ve pledged all their key national assets as collateral for loans they don’t need, and the vultures will swoop in to buy up their strategic assets for cents in the dollar.

        I’m waiting to see if Syriza get in.

        BTW Greece has been in debt default for over half of the last 200 years. And that’s exactly what they should do again. Default and wipe the slate clean.

      • xtasy 27.1.3

        Dear Monique Watson: As others have already commented: Greece has not nationalised any banks or core industries for some time. Yes, some ports and other assets are owned by the government there, but recent talk (forced upon them by the EU, IMF and so) has been that they shold privatise and sell off more of what the state still has some interest in.

        What I am stating is merely, that once the market mechanisms fail and the system collapses, and that will likely happen beyond Europe, then the state is the only capable institution and body that can pick up the pieces and keep things running. That will mean the nationalisation of the banking sector, of key industries and the likes. Otherwise there will be mass unemployment and poverty for some time to come.

        Even madmen like Hitler threatened the banks in Germany in the 1930s, that he would “nationalise” them, if they would not deliver the credit and money he wanted them to provide.

        Now that is another part of history we rather not look at, but during the Great Depression it was the state (also in NZ) that had to step in and take action, otherwise the mess would have created misery of incredible levels.

        The bizarre thing is, National and their little, slimy Banksie supporter in the ACT costume are going down a way that will prove to be idiotic and irresponsible in the near future.

        Sadly some do not quite understand the economic and social implications and what history can teach us.

        In Latin America nationalisation of core industries and enterprises is taking place right now.

        Also has the state stepped in to take control of key banks and financial institutions already in many countries affected by the GFC. That will just be the beginning.

      • John M 27.1.4

        What’s a “plundered railway track”?

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