We’re very pleased to have another guest post from Labour’s Dunedin North candidate, David Clark:
Whirinaki power plant is up for sale.
Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee has waited, until after the year-end press gallery drinks, to announce this state-owned asset will be sold by tender process.
Marty G has already pointed out that this sale and the issuing of bonds by Genesis, are state-asset sales by stealth.
Technically the company is not being sold. What we’re witnessing is commonly known as “asset-stripping”. Feel better?
So what are we losing? By kicking in when electricity prices hit a threshold, Whirinaki sets an effective cap on the price of electricity. Basically, it stops power prices rising to unaffordable levels – meaning beneficiaries and pensioners don’t freeze to death when power crises strike in the winter.
Whirinaki is New Zealand’s only true standby power station. It was built in response to power crises in 2001 and 2003. As a “generator of last resort”, it was opened in 2004 to generate power in an emergency.
Whirinaki is a state-asset, owned by the Crown and temporarily managed by Contact – that was scheduled for transfer into full state control by Meridian in October 2010.
Why has the Government now decided to sell it? And why did it announce this decision just 8 days before Christmas?
The answer to the first question is National’s privatisation agenda. The answer to the second question is that John Key doesn’t want media asking the first question.
If Whirinaki is sold, power prices will rise. The market that doesn’t work – will charge more for power. And the most vulnerable will suffer.
Add to that the fact that a fossil-fuelled plant might be transferred from an emergency generating role to an everyday one. The government should be backing out of diesel – not mainstreaming it.
The Government talks about having our interests at heart, but the truth is that it is selling off the family silver again. And slippery John Key is doing it while we’re focussed on Christmas.
Before the election, John Key promised not to sell Kiwibank. Next he said they’d look at it. Finally, he said it wouldn’t happen while he was PM. Flip – Flop – Flip again. National have said there’d be no state asset sell-offs in the first term of a National Government. But they’re already finding ways of gutting our companies now. Watch out for major sell-offs if they get into power again (excuse the pun).
Whirinaki looks and feels like a state asset. It even smells like a state asset. But at Whirinaki something stinks.