Remember, John, you promised no asset sales

Written By: - Date published: 9:06 am, April 20th, 2010 - 29 comments
Categories: assets, john key, privatisation - Tags: ,

In 2008 John Key made this crystal clear promise:

“That in the first term of the National government there will be no state assets that will be sold either partially or fully.”

Now, Land Information New Zealand is proposing the sale of seven high country stations as part of the tenure review process. This goes against the advice of DoC and has alarmed conservationists who say that unique ecologies will be put at risk with devastating down stream effects.

Key’s promise gives him only one option: he must keep his promise not to sell state assets and turn down this proposal immediately.

29 comments on “Remember, John, you promised no asset sales”

  1. lprent 1

    Pretty unambiguous. It will be interesting to see the apologists squirming around that one. Whats the bet that they’ll pull the “hard times” defense.

  2. tc 2

    I think it’s fair to say that whatever comes out of Key’s mouth is to be taken with many grains of salt.

    “Key’s promise gives him only one option: he must keep his promise not to sell state assets and turn down this proposal immediately..” No he’ll claim flexibility/case by case basis/things have changed etc etc……..NZ is very much for sale under the nat’s, always was, always will……it’s all they know.

  3. luva 3

    I will pull the ‘why not’ argument.

    What public service or economic benefit does high country stations provide society.

    I disagree with, but understand why the left oppose state asset sales. But sheep farms covered in tussock.


    • walter 3.1

      Why not? – how about ‘cos he promised he wouldn’t’ for a start?

      As we keep hearing, the Nats ‘have a mandate’ to do the things they promised to do, does this not extend to the things they promised not to do? Or am I missing something here?

      • Tigger 3.1.1

        Yep, it’s just some land. They’re just some whales. It’s just a forest. They’re just birds. They’re just beneficiaries.

    • Bright Red 3.2

      “why not”?

      because he promised not to.

    • nzfp 3.3

      Hey luva,
      You said “What public service or economic benefit does high country stations provide society”
      The study of Economics is the extrapolation of three basic pillars – Land, Labour and Capital. Land represents all naturally occuring monopolies and includes land, minerals, water etc… All natural resources which are provided for free by nature and are the domain of all the citizens of Aotearoa (ahakoa he Maori, he Pakeha). In neo-liberal monetarist economies such as ours is,

      (since the inception of new right Labour policies, carried on by Ruth Richardson and National introduced to the former Finance Minister “sir” Roger Douglas by private banking iinspired neo-liberal monetarist economists in the treasury in 1984 – see the Alister Barry documentary “Someone Else’s Country” for an overview of the damage of monetarism and neo-liberal economics in New Zealand)

      land represents a free lunch. If land remains un-taxed, the property speculator can realise an un-taxed free-lunch of capital gain. For example, on March 31, 2010 the Australian Newspaper “The Age”, in an article titled “Melbourne Water goes to Docklands” reported that:

      […] BILLIONAIRE businessman Solomon Lew has reaped almost $30 million after selling a CBD parking lot that was bought for just $810,000 almost 30 years ago.

      The 4340 square metre development site at 151-165 Franklin Street was sold to Setia International, a division of Malaysian property developer SP Setia BHD Group, for about $30.85 million (MYR 92.4 million) this week. […]

      The implications of this are that the banking sector invests heavily in property speculation, the speculation drives up the price of land and consequently the rent on land – which in turn increases the banking sectors profits from debt and interest. The banking sector itself is a large property investor – consequently the banking sector stands to gain from capital gains. The free-lunch of capital gain represents a huge loss in tax revenue that would benefit the whole nation.

      All that aside, land represents the rights of our nations children – who will utimately inheret the nation. There is no need – certainly no financial need – for our government to sell any state assets. The sales of state assets are a reflection of the requirements to adhere to monetarist neo-liberal policies. Our government could generate enough tax revenue from land, capital gain, FTT and other tax vehicles to fund all of the nations public requirements – including education, health and housing – without the requirement of GST or income tax and including a guaranteed income to all citizens. You don’t need to be a Leftie or a Rightie to understand we are all taxed too much.

      You also asked “why the left oppose state asset sales”, well – I oppose state asset sales and I do not class myself as left, right, centerist, libertarian, free-market or anything except a New Zealand Maori citizen. Personally I don’t believe there is any such thing as left and right.


  4. Murray 4

    Tenure Review has been going on for a long time now,
    Long before National became the government.
    The Standard is fast becoming a conspiracy theory site

    • felix 4.1

      So what? He promised he wouldn’t sell any assets. Now he’s gonna sell ’em.

      It really is that simple.

      • gingercrush 4.1.1

        You’re being rather mischievous. I don’t recall National calling for the scrapping of the land tenure process.Land Tenure Process means long-term leaseholders having the right for that lease-hold land to become free-hold land. Its rather similar to National’s policy where those renting a state home have the right to purchase that home. They’re not even state assets as such.

        • Bright Red

          of course they’re state assets. look them up in the treasury docs, they’re in the crown assets column.

          and as for state homes, National has said it may sell some to buy others. No problem with that, that’s not selling assets, it’s changing the make up of the state housing estate. If National weren’t repalcing the houses it sold that too would be selling state assets.

          National is not planning to buy more farms to replace these (some of which are ecologically unique). No, it’s just selling these state assets.

        • felix

          Pretty sure houses and land are generally considered assets ginge.

          “”That in the first term of the National government there will be no state assets that will be sold either partially or fully.'”

          I don’t see anything in there about “except for houses and land“. Do you?

  5. Sookie 5

    Pastoral lease is kind of a grey area. The lessees hold Crown land, but all the improvements they make to that land eg fencing, buildings, belongs to them. The only state asset is the land itself. Tenure review has been going on a long time, and DOC got some good conservation land out of the process. However now the boss has changed, the handover of land for conservation in exchange for freehold is going to be much, much stingier, half assed and unfair. And in any case, DOC cannot afford to take on more land under their management at the moment. Poor, poor Mackenzie Country. It makes me howl seeing the terrible state of it after the dairy farmers got in there.

  6. gerry 6

    I hardly think hericium covered land qualifies as a ‘state asset’. I live in South Canterbury and know that part of the Mackenzie reasonably well having be on several stations in that area.
    If it fell into private ownership then good luck to the new owners of that land as its some of the most unproductive farmland in the country. They would need to irrigate it to make a profit and there are many hoops, costs, restrictions and red tape farmers have to crawl through to do anything on land in that part of the country.

    My only concern would be the flats close to the rivers and lakes, as that is often the most productive and fertile soils on those stations and I would be really concerned if they were subdivided off and turned into holiday homes. Those farmers rely on those parts of their stations for growing feed crops or finishing stock and I would hate to see it turned into holiday homes or something similar as it would screw up those station’s farming cycles and would be a blight on the landscape.

    • Ari 6.1

      So what, he should be able to sell major infrastructure or key conservation land as long as you don’t think it’s valuable?

      He made a categorical promise not to sell off ANY asset in state hands. He should keep to it.

  7. tsmithfield 7

    Sounds desperate, Eddie. Slow news day at the standard?

    I seem to recall the promise was for no new asset sales.

    The tenure review process has been in place a long time, and includes a mechanism for these types of sales. So, the process is certainly not new, and the possibility of these sales has been known for ages. You’re really making a stretch here.

  8. Red Rosa 8

    A continuation of the High Country Hijack was always National policy.

    Handing over prime lakeside real estate, at grazing prices, for massive tax-free capital gains to South Island runholders is set to resume.

    The parallel is selling the few remaining Remuera State Houses, for Otara prices, to their tenants.

    But somehow I can’t see this happening.

  9. Nick C 9

    I think as a general principle everyone agrees that politicians shouldnt break promises. Putting politics aside though, whats the reason not to sell a state asset provided we get a good enough price?

    • Pascal's bookie 9.1

      No reason at all, that’s what ‘good enough price’ means.

      My turn.

      Define ‘begging the question’ and explain why you shouldn’t do it.

      • Nick C 9.1.1

        Thats the thing tho pascal, many people (particularly the authors on this site) are opposed to state asset sales regardless of the price we get. I didnt hear an angry chorus of “maybe if we get a slightly higher price we should allow asset sales” at the 2005 election (or for that matter whenever privitisation is mentioned), i always hear “NO ASSET SALES!”

        • nzfp

          I gave my opinion on “why not” above in the comment posted at “20 April 2010 at 1:02 pm”

        • Ari

          Because asset sales are usually based on ideology that the state should not be involved in infrastructure or land ownership and not, say, a policy of procuring at least replacement price. I’d be perfectly willing to allow private management of an asset so long as the terms of sale guarantee that the public won’t be ripped off by the deal. The problem is that I’ve yet to see any sale of state assets meet that condition.

          Since you apparently can’t do your homework, begging the question is where you structure a question or argument so that your position is automatically assumed to be correct due to the nature of the question, and it shouldn’t be done because it distorts the truth, it’s intellectually dishonest, and it impoverishes debate.

        • Bright Red

          “provided we get a good enough price”

          is tautological. it’s like saying “would you ever eat a dog?” “well, if I was hungry enough”

          a price that is good enough to for us to sell at is by definition the price that would be good enough for us to sell at.

          I’m not going to turn down $10 billion for a high country farm, for example.

          But none of this is relevant to whether or not Key should sell having promised he wouldn’t – unless, of course, we do get offered $10 billion.

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    The state tenure review was always a scam. Giving the farmers millions of dollars to take land from us. Really, we should just have cancelled the leases and let the land go back to it’s natural environment.

  11. Herodotus 11

    Not agreeing with the sale of this land and the broken promise, yet Nats are continuing what Lab has done in the 99-08 tennure, whereby such land as this WAS sold to farmers and in at least one case I am aware the land was redeveloped in the Lakes area for residential/holiday homes. I remember Don Brash and Helen Clarkes leaders debate when H1 got into poor Don on if Nats were in favour of asset sales. Yet H1 would have been aware that her govt was doing the same thing, only difference DB was a wee bit green and did not have knowledge and wisdom.

    • Ari 11.1

      They promised a higher standard *shrug* They can’t exactly back out now on the excuse that everyone else did it.

  12. Chess Player 12

    Should a promise always be kept, or should judgement be exercised and a different course be taken, if circumstances have changed?

    Just a question…

  13. Boru 13

    The Government’s plans to open Schedule 4 conservation areas to mining means that their plan to sell our assets has begun in earnest. Minister Brownlee, along with John Key, the Minister of Tourism (sic), have tried to portray it as something else but there is no denying that allowing overseas companies access to our prime conservation areas will result in the loss of assets currently owned by the people of New Zealand. In fact, it is worse than an asset sale, it’s a giveaway! We lose the natural values of the conservation land, we lose the minerals for negligible return, and we pay the costs of the long-term management of toxic waste (tailings dumps, acid mine pollution etc) plus the costs for impoverished communities in the shadow of mining operations (eg. Waihi). Surely the most stupid asset “sale’ imaginable!

    We need to make sure they don’t get to sell off the conservation estate and that they don’t get a second term to complete their sell-out on the protection of Schedule 4 areas from mining.

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