Remember when….

Written By: - Date published: 7:13 am, June 20th, 2012 - 67 comments
Categories: accountability, assets, labour, national, privatisation, scoundrels - Tags:

National put out a couple of bizarre press releases saying “remember when…” and recounting the asset sales under the 4th Labour Government. Apparently, the fact that they fucked up is reason for National to fuck up now.

Well, remember when asset sales erned Labour a landslide defeat and nearly destroyed it in 1990, resulting in nine years in the wilderness and a loss of trust it has never fully recovered from?

Remember when National’s asset sales in the early 1990s saw them hang on by a single vote (and that traitor Tapsell) in 1993, governing with only 35% of the vote?

Remember how that scared them off sals in their seond term and, when they sold Contact in 1998, it was a tipping point that saw them spend 9 years in the wilderness and so scarred the party that Key had to swear off sales in his first term?

In a decade’s time, I reckon we’ll be saying ‘remember when the 2011-14 term was the final death knell for asset sales and saw an unloved Key and National booted from office?

67 comments on “Remember when….”

  1. Of course they don’t, it was a wee bit traumatic for them. 😉

  2. Gosman 2

    Ummmm… Labour lost big because it alienated it’s traditional supporter base. National is a party of the right of the political spectrum. Reducing the size of the State in the economy is bread and butter policies for parties of the right.

    • Zetetic 2.1

      Asset sales alienate middle new zealand. That’s why governments that do them lose elections.

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        Asset sales are standard Right wing policies. People who voted for National at the last election should have been aware of this.

        • You_Fool

          In most cases I think you will find that people voted for National despite the fact they planned asset sales and possibly in the blind hope that they wouldn’t actually do it…

          It was a failing of Labour that these people voted for National.

          • felix

            Gosman labours under the delusion that because National are in govt, over half the population must be extremist right-wing nutters like him.

            He hasn’t yet noticed that ACT only poll around the margin of error.

            • Gosman

              Name me one policy of National that has a greater mandate than their planned partial sale of shares in five SOE’s then felix?

              • You_Fool

                Possibly the creation of charter schools?

                As stated people voted for national despite the asset sales, it was a failure by Labour to convince the voters that they were a viable alternative but without asset sales. All opinion polls on the matter indicate that the great majority of NZers do not want Asset sales, even though that nice Mr Key told them that this was Nationals only plan.

                • Chris

                  How does charter schools have any mandate at all?

                  • You_Fool

                    Because National was voted into power…so therefore they must have a mandate right?

                    • Uturn

                      National 59 seats. Total seats available 121. Mandate, nil.

                      The talk of mandates without defining what or where a mandate could or might exist under MMP is premature. National was not “voted into power”. We don’t have a FPP system, even if some behave like we do. But if mandates are so important, I’d be quite happy to have another election every time UF, MP or ACT do not support a National party bill, since less than majority support would suggest a government without clear mandate or “power”.

                    • “National 59 seats. Total seats available 121. Mandate, nil.”

                      By that logic no party has had a mandate since 1996.

                      For example, if you going to make this facile argument I can do it to:
                      Labour 49 seats. Total seats available 121. Mandate, nil.


                    • Uturn

                      That is the point, Contrarian.

                      Where and what is a mandate under MMP?

                      59 seats if you are National in 2011. 58 seats, 2009.
                      50 seats 2005 for Labour. 52, 2002.

                      and if you win 1 seat and are given ministerial portfolio via coalition agreement with powers to reorganise NZ’s largest city, how much of a mandate do you have then? How much legitimacy to rule? Suddenly the democratic process of voting has been hi-jacked by centralised autocratic party politics.

                      It is an absurd system that makes a vote for local candidate X into an agreement that random candidate Y can do as they please. Voting is an illusion.

                      MMP under our present arrangement is a farce. If major parties are running it like a reduction of FPP, and claiming things like “mandates”, and the public condone, support and believe their deception, then nothing in our current political reality should come as a surprise.

                • Uturn

                  Perhaps a bit like the woman last night on TV3, who when asked whether she supported or opposed asset sales replied, with a smile, that she was too ignorant to comment.

                  • Vicky32

                    who when asked whether she supported or opposed asset sales replied, with a smile, that she was too ignorant to comment.

                    Oh my giddy aunt! At least she was truthful and honest (and utterly mad!)

                    • fatty

                      most people don’t care about politics…judging from our leaders over the past 30 years, I’m starting to think they are right

              • felix

                That’s a fairly random question, Gosman, not one I find particularly interesting and not particularly related to my comment.

                I think I’ll ignore it, thanks.

                You could always ask me questions about the point I raised if you like, which is that voting National doesn’t imply that you’re a right-wing ideologue who must support any policy identified as “right-wing”, and to suggest as much is to insist that about half of the country are such people.

                • Gosman

                  No, I prefer to focus on the fact that the cornerstone of the National party’s election campaign was partial asset sales and the cornerstone of the Labour party’s campaign was opposition to the plan. National increased it’s share of the vote and Labour decreased theirs. That speaks volume to me.

                  • You_Fool

                    It speaks volumes to me too, though possibly different books to yours… As stated it is quite evident that National’s “win” was not because people liked the asset sale platform, nor that they disagreed with labour’s platform.

                    Also you should note that despite gaining votes the national lead government almost couldn’t be formed, which speaks more about how people felt, as normally people would put National more centralist than say Act (who lost all support)

                    • Fortran

                      Is Labour’s election platform going to include the re nationalisation of the partial asset sales ?
                      Or will it be fudged…………… expected.

        • weka

          “Asset sales are standard Right wing policies. People who voted for National at the last election should have been aware of this.”
          Don’t you mean neoliberal policies Gosman? What was all that dam building and such that Muldoon did?

    • bbfloyd 2.2

      And how do you think they alienated that support base numbnuts? pull your head out of your arse, and read the post properly…..

  3. ad 3

    Quite strange seeing Winston Peters in 48 hours being both FOR retirement age at 65, and also promising to buy the assets back. On both counts outflanking Shearer on the populist front.

    On the retirement age front it meant Winston could go into a future coalition with Key and keep the national party in power, on the other hand he was against a basic national plank and could therefore go into coalition with Labour.

    Sometimes I wish either Labour or the Greens had a guy with that much sheer political guile and populist skill. Sometimes.

    Labour still have too much baggage in their older MPs like Goff and King. They should retire and let fresh blood in – their voting record on asset sales just stinks.

    • prism 3.1

      ad Agree entirely.

    • fatty 3.2

      “Labour still have too much baggage in their older MPs like Goff and King. They should retire and let fresh blood in – their voting record on asset sales just stinks.”

      True…thats why we are stuck with National. Those 2 need to do the country a favour and get lost.
      Its no coincidence that since the election there has been protests and petitions against Key’s policies and for the policies Goff wanted to bring in. This is partly a popularity contest, but also the issue of trust is underrated. Labour need those past failures gone ASAP, then some decent policies.

      “Sometimes I wish either Labour or the Greens had a guy with that much sheer political guile and populist skill. Sometimes.”

      Labour could obviously do with a leader like that…or just a leader in general. However, I don’t think the Greens would be suited to a hard-nosed debater. Greens are more effective when they put their message across calmly and in an unassuming manner. Different personalities are required for different positions. Piggy Bennett was born to be in charge of National’s welfare abuse…the Green’s probably have the right mix of leaders. We should be thankful that the ACT party never realised how repulsive their leaders were, if they had a personable leader who didn’t make people vomit, then they could have had more of an influence and created way more poverty.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.3

      On both counts outflanking Shearer on the populist front.

      That’s not actually surprising – Winston is a populist politician, always has been and he learned from the best – Rob Muldoon.

  4. Seti 4

    Remember when Labour tried to flog of 28% of it’s stake in Air NZ as recently as 2002? The electorate so despised it’s intentions by re-electing them.

    BTW, which former Labour Finance Minister said in 2003 regarding this issue – “the Government could not decide this issue on opinion polls”?

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Remember when Labour tried to flog of 28% of it’s stake in Air NZ as recently as 2002?

      WTF are you talking about? It was 2001 when the Labour led government bought AirNZ back.

      • Seti 4.1.1

        WTF are you talking about? It was 2001 when the Labour led government bought AirNZ back.

        And then tried to hock off 28% of its stake a year later –

        In late 2002 the New Zealand Government agreed in principle to allow Qantas to purchase a 22.5% shareholding at a cost of NZ$550 million

        How can anyone not remember that?

        • Pascal's bookie

          Why would they remember it? Minor wrinkle in the story of the bail out of a Listed Company by the government.

          Nothing at all to do with selling SOEs

        • Draco T Bastard

          IIRC, Most people were more concerned with the lack of competition that the merger would produce, the merger which was then prevented by the courts. If the sale had gone forward then I suspect there would have been more backlash but, considering timing, that backlash probably wouldn’t have occurred until 2k5.

          One of the things that most people who bring up previous sales is that there’s been a change in the public’s attitude to sales over the last few years as the full consequences of those sales have become glaringly obvious. They haven’t saved us anything and, more often than not, are costing us far more. Telecom is a great example of that extra costing: ~$15b in profits taken out and now getting subsidies to do what we’ve already paid for (Ultra-fast broadband).

  5. vto 5

    What are the benefits to selling the electricity companies?

    Anybody know?

    • higherstandard 5.1

      Cash injection into the government accounts.

      • vto 5.1.1

        Ok, thanks. So there is one benefit and that is a financial benefit around cashflow to the government.

        Anything else? Because everybody is well aware that the financials will be worse off post-sales, even Bill English has admitted that. The one benefit is not even a benefit in the Finance Ministers eyes.

        So assuming you do hs, why do you support the sales if that is the sole usless reason?

        • weka

          It’s not economics (obviously the economics don’t stack up), it’s ideological. Kind of interesting watching National hang themselves by their ideology. Almost like they can’t see any other way to go. Or they don’t give a shit.

        • higherstandard

          The four utilities being sold are valued @ around 14.5 billion and bring in around 800 million a year.

          Selling down 49% will bring in around 7.1 billion and forgo around 400 million hence the financials will be significantly better off in the short to medium term otherwise they would be unlikely to proceed.

          I am fairly neutral on the asset sale but will be looking to buy shares. I do concede that we do need to balance our accounts and have suggested on a number of occasions on this blog that we should increase taxes and decrease our spending in NZ as we live well beyond our means and are looking to continue to do so under whatever variety of government we have in place.

          • tracey

            Will the share price stay firm as each successive power company comes up for “sale”?

            It seems selling four identical products on the same street corner is hardly condusive to maximising price?

            I predict all four will be worth much more when they are next “sold” in ten plus years time. They will be something of a bargain at this sale though.

          • Draco T Bastard

            The four utilities being sold are valued @ around 14.5 billion and bring in around 800 million a year.

            How much would it cost to build all of them new? I suspect that it would be far more than $14b

            • higherstandard

              Build all of what ?

              • Colonial Viper

                These aren’t just financial assets, these are real economy assets. That’s what Draco was pointing at.

                • higherstandard

                  I was interested in knowing which particular ones he was worried about, from memory meridian has the lions share of ‘bricks and mortar” both here and overseas.

            • darkhorse

              The clyde dam alone cost $3Billion in 1983.

              But their dollar value means nothing. Our society lives on a huge energy subsidy. Having that energy flow has value beyond price.

              If you own the energy source you own the society = notice how Russia can make the Ukraine and half of Europe hop when it wants to tweak the gas supply.

              Why do you think the USA spends so much blood and money keeping the Middle East in a state of turmoil – to stop them getting organised enough to play with the global economy like Russia does with Europe.

              This country doesn’t not just need to keep its energy assets it needs to become energy self-sufficent and energy efficient. That won’t happen with the vultures owning our life blood.

    • Seti 5.2

      Allowing me to gain direct benefits from dividends and capital gain, and indirectly through super funds.

      • vto 5.2.1

        the difference between “me” and “we”.

        how succinct. thanks. i actually meant the benefits to the sellers i.e. taxpayers, not the buyers.

        anymore useless reasons out there? so far, we have higherstandard and Seti with two reaons, both weak.

    • BLiP 5.3


      The question might be best answered by “who benefits by selling our electricity supply”. John Key’s money changer mates get the lion’s share of the benefits immediately and in perpetuity while National Ltd™ gets an immediate but short term boost in liquidity for jacking up the next election. What are they going to do if they win the next election? Rinse and repeat.

  6. TightyRighty 6

    So because labour fucked up selling assets, national is going to fuck selling part of the assets. I bet the French wish they had you at agincourt.

    • McFlock 6.1

      Yeah. They could have avoided a bigger, badder Crecy if they’d learned from history.
      Our deaths will be less obvious, and generally of pensioners and babies rather than military-age men. 

      • TightyRighty 6.1.1

        Oh snap. Turns out nationals model was good for labour in 2007. Two labour governments in a row think privatisation is a good thing. What next from the no sense but all anti brigade? Opposing nationals plan to spend more money on ECE even if it isn’t how teacher unions want it spent?

        Hows you crecy now?

        • McFlock

          Really? Labour wanted to sell 49% of our power companies in 2007?

          • TightyRighty

            Some mining company. What it is a purveyor of makes no difference. Was once a 100% state owned asset became a 51% state owned asset with the approval of the OIO and the labour caucus at the time. Much of whom are in the current labour caucus.

            • Draco T Bastard


                • Dv

                  Yep KiwiBlog is a real authority

                  • Gosman

                    That’s your response is it? You don’t like the source so it can’t be true. How about you try and counter with facts or is that somehow beyond your capacity?

                    • Pascal's bookie


                      It’s desperate stuff. Tell me, did the crown direct Solid Energy to sell part of the mine and did the crown grab the proceeds of the sale?

                      It’s not even a remotely similar situation, which is why there wasn’t any uproar about it.

                      It’s quite amusing seeing the quality of spin National is using. Laughable stuff.

                      They could try making a positive case for the policy, but I can only imagine dpf has tested those lines and found this nyah nyah stuff is not as disastrous.

                    • Dv

                      Nope it is NOT an authority same as the standard That is the fact.
                      Just like a lot of web sources

                    • McFlock

                      my response is that I’d rather put my nuts in a vice rather than look at kb again – let alone believe anything that fucking dick posts.

                  • TightyRighty

                    If you’d bothered to read it, you’d see it was tony ryall, crown minister, who is the original source. So before you go off like a dick like mcflocking brain dead, read!!

                    So desperate PB? A little like the greens and then their “CIR”

  7. tracey 7

    Hasn’t JK “changed his mind” on a few things over the past 4 years? Why is he doggedly hanging on to keeping pensions the same and resisting the opposition to asset sales? I presume it’s because the latter is their ONLY policy ion that 4 years, without it, the emperor definitely has no clothes

    • rosy 7.1

      tracey, I think that’s the crux of why people voted for National even though they opposed asset sales. National have changed their mind when there has been overwhelming public opposition e.g. mining conservation land. A lot of people thought they would do the same on asset sales.

      Basically they didn’t believe Labour when it said a vote for National is a vote for asset sales. They didn’t realise the emperor was otherwise naked.

    • RedLogix 7.2

      Your getting warm there tracey….asset sales is not so much their only policy… as their sole purpose.

  8. Bob 8

    This one actually looks more like the 5th Labour Government to me and I think you could also call it hypocracy at its finest! Didn’t even have the balls to tell the public ahead of time, then bury it afterwards. How many NZer’s got the right to buy shares? What a bunch of hypocritical, lying, manipulative expletives! And at the front of the whole thing, the biggest weasel in NZ political history (beating Winston is quite an effort) Trevor Mallard. Where are the MSM on this? No-where to be found. Bunch of EPMU card holding, Labour loving hacks that couldn’t investigate a freckle.

    Where was our referendum then? Where where the Union lead marches on Parliament then? Where was the uproar over selling the family silverware then?

    Was there a peep out of the crossbenches about it? No, because it was the correct thing to do then, and the correct thing to do now. Only thing they got wrong was selling out to the US corporates before given Kiwis a chance.

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