A friend just texted: “Brownlee’s power reforms look relatively benign, what’s the catch?”
It’s true, Brownlee’s reforms are just minor tinkering. The only thing of note is the needless little kick in the guts for environmentalists by making Meridian take on Whirinaki.
And that tells us something. For all National’s bluster in opposition about power prices and the rest, they have no answers.
Of course, we know that if National had free reign they would just privatise and deregulate the power companies and we would soon be facing Enron-style disasters. But they were forced to promise not to sell any assets.
If a decent leftwing government were in power, it would be looking to treat electricity as a public service, not an ordinary good. The power system should be brought together under public control (rather than the silly system of government-owned companies competing against each other) and tasked with providing green, sustainable electricity, cheaply and reliably. But that’s never going to be an option for ‘Sexy Coal’ Brownlee and National.
So, instead, they’ve made some minor reforms and promised that power prices will come down. They won’t, of course. It’s more over-promise and under-deliver from National.