The art of the possible

Written By: - Date published: 10:19 am, June 20th, 2012 - 60 comments
Categories: assets, election 2014, privatisation - Tags:

The Nats’ latest defence of asset sales is ‘if Labour doesn’t say they’ll buy them back,then they secretly agree with the sales’.

Well, we would all like Labour to be able to make that commitment but, in the real world, that would be irresponsible (as irresponsible as, say, locking yourself into asset sales in the middle of a global economic crisis). The incoming government is going to have to know how the bad a situation the Nats are leaving the books in, the regulatory changes it intends to make to electricity (some of which could gut the value of the companies) and the state of the economy.

As for the suggestion that if you don’t reverse a policy, then you must love it – well, Bill, just ask the owner of the railways, the airline, and a bank who also provides Working for Families and interest-free student loans … he’s the man in the mirror.

60 comments on “The art of the possible”

  1. Dr Terry 1

    The problem is that this was yet another very crafty move by the Nat’s, likely (unfortunately) to register with people who do not trouble to think.

  2. RedLogix 2

    The correct answer to this nonsense is for Shearer to say, “Are you daring us to say this?”.

    • Pascal's bookie 2.1

      “You can’t unshit a bed. Bill English wants you to think that if you can’t unshit a bed, you are in favour of shitting the bed. He’s desperate, and his policy stinks.”

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      No, the correct answer for Shearer is to say that they will be renationalised with no compensation.

  3. ad 3

    Could you just spell out what makes it irresponsible for Labour to make that promise?

    – They don’t have to be held to doing it in a single term
    – The policy would immediately depress the share value of the company, without interrupting the divident flow
    – It is of course completely consistent with Labour’s Constitution
    – It immediately aligns the Opposition and gives Labour clearer coalition options
    – It would probably quickly depress the NZ Dollar – not all bad
    – Could be done in part with the NZSuper 40% local investment requirement, EQC fund, and ACC fund, with a bit of legislative stick where required

    • Pete 3.1

      Could be done in part with the NZSuper 40% local investment requirement, EQC fund, and ACC fund

      I think those are some of the sources the Nats are hoping to buy 10% parcels of the assets anyway. In part the asset sales are a way of raiding the pots of public money the government can’t otherwise get their grubby mitts on.

      • ad 3.1.1

        Agreed.

        I guess my main motivation for keeping the assets within public ands entirely is that we are such a small country and without a reaonsbly strong state the entire idea of New Zealand as a country will start to dissolve. This dissolution would affect New Zealand in:
        – dividend capacity
        – emergency command-and-control capacity
        – equity to raise public loans
        – exposure to the insecurity of the sharemarket
        – ability to control other than through (our often weak) regulators, and
        – as major innovators who do indeed burn through cash for projects that would in otherwise commercial terms not bother with that degree of R&D.

        Prime Ministers Holyoake and Muldoon would have been fine with that nation-building and nation-security stuff. These current guys are just too commercial for me.

  4. tc 4

    I don’t see any problem with the opposition putting the stake in the ground on buying back what’s sold without compensation.

    Plenty of ‘get outs’ once they get in as the NACT have BS’d their way through nearly 4 years so lord knows the true state of our nation with the highly paid consultants keeping the treasury etc in line.

    How many broken promises has Key made, time to play them at their own game and put some real heat on the MP/UF jellybacks.

  5. Peter 5

    It’s not irresponsible, in fact, it’s more than a bit gutless not to make that statement publicly. Labour did it with ACC in 1999 before the election (a slightly different situation albeit).

    It’s precisely Labour’s lack of conviction on asset sales, and its capitulation to the market on this issue that is probably behind its lacklustre response.

    You simply have to say categorically:

    “We will renationalise these assets at the price of sale, minus costs”.

    People get their money back, but the sale price is instantly driven down to a point whereby the sale becomes untenable for National to continue with.

    The beauty of the policy is that it never has to be enacted.

    Peter

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      “The beauty of the policy is that it never has to be enacted.”

      And seriously makes international and domestic business scared of any Labour government that comes to power. Which, on balance, is actually not a good thing. It might also violate international trade agreements we’ve signed up to.

      • freedom 5.1.1

        “It might also violate international trade agreements we’ve signed up to.”

        Which is why trade agreements are generally not worth the forests that get cut down to write them. Countries lose their sovereign right to determine their future and Industry smiles all the way to the Banks that gave then the cash to do the deal. Banks, that let’s face it, are the ones who really want countries to lose their auto-determination.

        mmm didn’t David Rockefeller say words to that affect?

        “The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite
        and world bankers is surely preferable to the national
        auto-determination practiced in past centuries.”

      • Peter 5.1.2

        This cuts to the heart of what I’m getting at – why is Labour so afraid of doing something more than just tinkering with market mechanisms, of doing something more than just having a kinder hand on the throttle and tiller (even assuming that the mechanisms are still connected to the engine?)

        One thing I have noticed (since I left the NZLP after 10+ years of hard core involvement) and decided to start up my own business, is that tories don’t think like that. Aside from not wanting to piss off their elite support base too much, they seem to have retained their ability to lead without the same fear that seems to cripple Labour leaders. National governments will therefore, take massive steps to intervene in markets, as this one has, albeit interventions that result in large transfers of wealth to their elite.

        Instead Labour seems to be very good at coming up with excuses about why it can’t make similar hard decisions. It always seems to be afraid of something or someone else, generally unelected jumping in and rolling back the policy. It wasn’t always like this.

        I do wonder if the root of the problem is that Labour cannot confront the fact that it’s just as neoliberal as the rest of them, and it knows that neoliberal responses aren’t working. Or, Labour now knows, deep down, it is clinging to a model of the world that no longer makes much sense, and it won’t acknowledge it, out of fear that the new model will hand far too much over to the Greens?
        (I think there is a new political model of the world that is in keeping with the old Labour traditions that doesn’t hand it over to the Greens)

        Honestly, to hell with an international trade agreement if it prevents NZ from being in charge of its own energy resources. Without energy, there is no economy, and if Labour is silly enough to allow someone else to be in charge of that destiny, when it has a policy response at its disposal that might stop it then is it really any different to National?

        Above all, it’s the fact that Labour currently possesses a policy weapon that could stop it, and IT WONT use it, that pisses me off so much.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.3

        And seriously makes international and domestic business scared of any Labour government that comes to power. Which, on balance, is actually not a good thing.

        Actually, it is a Good Thing. People should not be afraid of their governments but businesses should be afraid of pissing off the people and thus having the government come down on them like tonne of bricks.

        It’s called sovereignty

  6. vto 6

    Could somebody ‘in the loop’ with labour please explain why they cannot carry out a buy-back? If it is signalled well in advance then it is fine. The market simply doesn’t like rules being changed partway through, so just make the rules clear at the start.

    So, why not?

    What are the reasons?

    • BLiP 6.1

      .

      There’s this little thing called TPP – see, once National Ltd™ flogs off our electricity supply, we can’t buy it back without paying waaaaaaay over the odds in compensation to the corporates for loss of potential profit. Its a rigged WIN/LOSE table in the South Pacific corner of the international money changers’ casino being run by the 1%.

      • Kotahi Tane Huna 6.1.1

        Repeal the offending sections of that odious incompetence too.

        • freedom 6.1.1.1

          +1
          Start at “The” on title page 1
          and continue deleting until you hit the end of last page of the appendixes

        • BLiP 6.1.1.2

          .

          Perhaps youse didn’t get the memo. Our government can’t just change the law . . .

          AN OPEN LETTER FROM LAWYERS TO THE NEGOTIATORS OF THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP URGING THE REJECTION OF INVESTOR-STATE DISPUTE SETTLEMENT

          8 May 2012

          As lawyers from the academy, bench and bar, legislature, public service, business and other legal communities in Asia and the Pacific Rim, we are writing to raise concerns about the Investment and Investor-State dispute arbitration provisions being considered in the on-going negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

          We have diverse views about the TPP generally. However, we are united in our view that the foreign investor protections included in some recent Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) and their enforcement through Investor-State arbitration should not be replicated in the TPP. We base this conclusion on concerns about how the expansion of this regime threatens to undermine the justice systems in our various countries and fundamentally shift the balance of power between investors, states and other affected parties in a manner that undermines fair resolution of legal disputes.

          We are encouraged to note that the Government of Australia has said it is unwilling to submit to Investor-State dispute settlement powers under a TPP and other future trade agreements, and urge the TPP negotiators to exclude the Investor-State system for all countries, not just Australia.

          As lawyers, we believe that all investors, regardless of nationality, should have access to an open and independent judicial system for the resolution of disputes, including disputes with government. We are strong supporters of the rule of law. It is in this context that we raise our concerns.

          The ostensible purpose for investor protections in international agreements and their Investor-State enforcement was to ensure that foreign investors in countries without well-functioning domestic court systems would have a means to obtain compensation if their real property, plant or equipment was expropriated by a government. However, the definition of “covered investments” extends well beyond real property to include speculative financial instruments, government permits, government procurement, intangible contract rights, intellectual property and market share, whether or not investments have been shown to contribute to the host economy.

          Simultaneously, the substantive rights granted by FTA investment chapters and BITs have also expanded significantly and awards issued by international arbitrators against states have often incorporated overly expansive interpretations of the new language in investment treaties. Some of these interpretations have prioritized the protection of the property and economic interests of transnational corporations over the right of states to regulate and the sovereign right of nations to govern their own affairs.

          Increasingly decisions issued under this system see foreign investors being granted greater rights than are provided to domestic firms and investors under the Constitutions, laws and court systems of host countries. In several instances, arbitral tribunals have gone beyond awards of cash damages and issued injunctive relief that creates severe conflicts of law. For instance, a recent order by a tribunal in the case brought by Chevron against Ecuador under a U.S.-Ecuador BIT ordered the executive branch of that country to violate its constitutional separation of powers and somehow halt the enforcement of an appellate court ruling.

          This is not a unique case. The scope of government actions that arbitral tribunals have previously considered they may subject to review for possible violations of investor rights includes a ruling on jurisdiction in the Loewen v. United States case under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in January 5, 2001 that ‘measures’ include the function of a domestic court and the standing rules of civil procedure. The arbitral tribunal concluded that a jury decision in private contract litigation constituted a government measure that was subject to NAFTA’s investor rules.

          Investors are also seeking to avoid the deliberate decision of governments to require investors to pursue remedies in the domestic courts of the host nation, at least initially, by invoking the most-favoured-nation rule. Subsidiaries of Philip Morris International are seeking to circumvent a requirement in the Uruguay-Switzerland BIT that they must attempt to litigate their objections to Uruguay’s new tobacco labelling laws through the domestic courts for eighteen months before pursuing international arbitration by invoking a provision from a BIT between Uruguay and a third country that does not have that requirement.

          Moreover, the design of the Investor-State system tribunals allows lawyers to rotate between roles as arbitrators and advocates for investors in a manner that would be unethical for judges. The system also excludes the right for non-investor litigants and other affected parties to participate and fails to meet the basic principles of transparency, consistency and due process common to our legal systems. Investment arbitration as currently constituted is not a fair, independent, and balanced method for the resolution of disputes between sovereign nations and private investors.

          It is of particular concern that, rather than being an option of last resort, the use of this regime is increasing exponentially. BITs with Investor-State enforcement have existed since the 1950s, but between 1972 and 2000 only about 50 disputes were resolved. Since 2000, under the World Bank’s international arbitration arm, the International Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), alone 173 cases have been resolved and an additional 128 filed.

          To put this in perspective, as recently as 1999 only 69 ICSID cases had been launched. Today, there are 370-plus such cases underway, an increase of 436% – and that is only the number of Investor-State cases at ICSID. Over $675 million has been paid out under U.S. FTAs and BITs alone, 70% percent of which pertained to challenges to governments’ natural resource and environmental policies, not to traditional expropriations. Tobacco companies have also used Investor-State dispute settlement to challenge government tobacco control policies enacted to implement obligations under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

          The current regime’s expansive definition of covered investments and government actions, the grant of expansive substantive investor rights that extend beyond domestic law, the increasing use of this mechanism to skirt domestic court systems and the structural problems inherent in the arbitral regime is corrosive of the rule of law and fairness.

          WE THEREFORE CALL UPON
          all governments engaged in the TPP negotiations to follow Australia’s example by rejecting the Investor-State dispute mechanism and reasserting the integrity of our domestic legal processes.

          http://tpplegal.wordpress.com/open-letter/

          Thanks National Ltd™ – I’m lovin’ it.

          • Kotahi Tane Huna 6.1.1.2.1

            “Perhaps youse didn’t get the memo. Our government can’t just change the law . . ”

            Is that so? I think they can in fact. They do it all the time. You think a trade agreement is sacred or protected in some way?

            • BLiP 6.1.1.2.1.1

              .

              As it happens, contracts entered into under the TPP are protected – have a read of the Open Letter and get back to me.

      • Hami Shearlie 6.1.2

        On Think Tank last weekend Professor Jane Kelsey stated that South Korea have a similar kind of TPP. And they are talking about renegotiating the deal and deleting the clauses that allow private companies to sue!! It’s pretty suspect when Tim Groser says he hasn’t even seen what has been written into the contract yet. Even more suspicious that the public won’t be able to know what the Nacts have signed NZ up to for four years!! Why, if it’s so good for NZ? Anyone know any more?

    • Te Reo Putake 6.2

      Labour’s current priority is to stop the sales, if it all possible. That’s the immediate focus. There was, however, considerable support at the recent round of regional meetings to immediately return the stolen goods to public ownership when we lead the next Government and I would be very surprised if that is not Labour’s position going into the next election. We may find Shearer saying aas much in the next few days anywaym as Winston seems to have put it firmly on the agenda.
       
      As I commented earlier, I will be pushing for any compensation to be at the lowest price (either at IPO or lower if the share price drops). And paid over a number of years, so the NZ people get a clear financial advantage out of the re-nationalisation process. Which was something we could not do with Kiwirail and Air NZ, unfortunately.

      • ad 6.2.1

        That’s the natural tactical position. But tactics isn’t enough.

        “In the next few days” is too late for a debate being covered high on the TV news every day right now. Labour have had plenty of time to firm up their policy position.

        To be actually in the hot legislative debate without sharp policy soundbites is to hand everyone else a political gift.

      • Peter 6.2.2

        This is good, yes, but why wait for Winston to put it on the agenda. It reeks of decisions by focus group, or the reactive decision-making that Ministers make in their final term in office.

        I’ve often thought that Labour’s issue in terms of leadership is that we/they (I don’t see myself as part of the party any more) select highly competent public servants to be MPs. In other words, kind, loyal, caring, and intelligent people, far better than the tories. But the flaw, the fatal flaw, is that most of them see themselves as administrators of the state, rather than leaders. There is a lack of belief in the power of ideas and agenda-setting – they wait for someone else to take the initiative, and then if there’s enough support, they implement it competently.

        Right now we need more than that. We need leadership. If Shearer came out tomorrow and announced such a policy, I reckon you’d see a 5 point jump in Labour’s polling. This is a message from the provinces too, well beyond the Beltway.

        Peter

      • Draco T Bastard 6.2.3

        Labour’s current priority is to stop the sales, if it all possible.

        BS, they could stop the sales by saying that they will be re-nationalised without compensation. They’re not doing that though.

    • Pete 6.3

      A thought occurs to me that a Labour government could set up a single wholesaler for electricity, creating a Monopsony. We already have a successful model for this in New Zealand with Pharmac. Competing power companies would have a greater incentive to undercut each other.

      • Peter 6.3.1

        We had this system once upon a time. It was called the Electricity Department, and then, the Electricity Corporation of NZ. It had a single price setting policy that applied, with regional differences, to all of New Zealand. You didn’t need at least six generators, umpteen lines companies, and some shell companies such as Powershop all with marketing and admin staff to support in order to set reasonable and fair pricing for power. I think it was done with a staff of less than 10.

        Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but in aiming for perfection, what we’ve created is something far worse – a disintegrated and fragmented electricity system with artificial separations forced by law. Electricity is a natural monopoly, we cannot get away from that, so rather than trying to bend nature, it’s easier to just place it under strong central and regional governance.

        And hey, we’ve recreated the local power board…

        • Draco T Bastard 6.3.1.1

          +1

          • Peter 6.3.1.1.1

            My policy is actually to extend the role of the power board to all aspects of local energy use, by calling them Energy Boards, and giving them oversight of regions or sub-regions.

    • Jackal 6.4

      I would like to see the next government undertake aggressive legislative change to undo some of the damage that National has caused over the last few years. I would also like to see a special department that works closely with the serious fraud office set up to investigate Nacts corrupt practices. There should be a number of prosecutions.

  7. Enough is Enough 7

    I have been saying it for weeks.

    Labour can kill this bill in its tracks by announcing this very policy. Who will invest in a copany that is guaranteed to be nationalised in 2 years time. Absolutley nobody.

    Labour grow some fucking balls. This silly referendum wont stop the Nats. A firm policy anouncement will stop people investing in them though.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Who will invest in a copany that is guaranteed to be nationalised in 2 years time. Absolutley nobody.

      Actually, just saying that it will be renationalised will result in everybody trying to buy it as it would effectively be a guaranteed super-profit for the buyers. To stop the sale it must renationalised without compensation – not even the purchase price returned.

  8. Kevin 8

    Labour’s buy back of NZ rail cost a fortune:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/456672/Rail-buy-back-cost-nears-1-5b
    Anything is possible if you are willing to pay a premium and spend more than you earned in the first place.
    In other words buy backs are ridiculously expensive and bad economics.

    • ad 8.1

      That depends on the kind of signals you send to the market beforehand.

      Labour’s sale of NZRail in the first place told the market that they would pay over the odds. And I agree with you they did.

      But sending a signal that they would buy them back over time, and regulate the ass off them, and define New Zealand ownership of those shares, immediately discounts the price. In fact it would freak prospective buyers right out, unless they were New Zealand domiciled.

      Winston and the Grens are already making market signals on this already – if Labour did the same, any prospective investor knows they are taking an almightly gamble on the next election that National will get back in.

      But without that signal from Labour, forming a united Oppostion position, the market can’t see that risk so starkly.

      Pretty chilling looking at today’s Balance of Payments foreign ownership cash going out the window.

  9. Wayne 9

    Clearly Labour will not make such a promise. They surely will have more important things to do when they are in Govt, rather than spend money trying to undo the past – and for what purpose. New govts try and look forward, not back. Mr Shearer seems much more interested in spending scarce govt money on promoting innovation, which he can argue is intended to increase growth and opportunity. How would simply changing shareholders from private owners to the state do this?

    I am amused by the view that Labour could nationalise without compensation. You must have missed the last 70 years of Labour in govt and opposition. Much less the damage it would do to New Zealands reputation of having responsible govt. But in truth I am sure you know that.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      How would simply changing shareholders from private owners to the state do this?

      Interestingly enough, by allowing NZ to have enough resources to do the R&D (not that growth is sustainable of course but R&D is still needed).

      You must have missed the last 70 years of Labour in govt and opposition.

      Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean that it can’t happen in the future and in NZ, parliament is supreme.

      Much less the damage it would do to New Zealand’s reputation of having responsible govt.

      Personally, I don’t really care about how the banksters rate NZ.

    • Jackal 9.2

      Wayne

      They surely will have more important things to do when they are in Govt, rather than spend money trying to undo the past – and for what purpose. New govts try and look forward, not back.

      We’re talking about crucial infrastructure Wayne, which has to continue to function now and in the future.

      The problem is that the short term profit motive means that not enough will be reinvested and there could even be some asset stripping. That’s what happened with the rail which Labour had to purchase back, otherwise the network would be next to useless by now.

      Today, the National led government voted against amendments to the Mixed Ownership Model Bill that would have prevented asset stripping… I wonder why?

      • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1

        Today, the National led government voted against amendments to the Mixed Ownership Model Bill that would have prevented asset stripping… I wonder why?

        Because they know damn well that it’s going to happen as it’s an easy way for the new private owners to realise a profit and after it’s been done the government will have to then put in massive investment which will allow the private sector even more profits. Exactly as what happened with both rail and Telecom.

  10. captain hook 10

    National has never said why they want to sell them in the first place.
    It looks increasingly like its just a payoff to their pals in the sharemarket and those that can afford to buy and stag the shares.
    This government just gets crummier and crummier.

    • BLiP 10.1

      .

      Nope. It was crummy way back when John Key was being groomed to manage this and the other transactions coming down the pipeline.

  11. ianmac 11

    Bill English spent his full time after Question Time today, mocking Labour by challenging them to declare that they would buy back the sold shares. Bill doesn’t do funny very well. Just sounds sneering.

  12. BillODrees 12

    #JamesHenderson 
    There is nothing irresponsible about warning prospective investors that a forced buy-back capped at purchase price is a possible/likely occurrence.
    Your approach, and that of the Labour leadership, is weak and unnecessary. Where are their cojones?  This is not  strong leadership. 
     – 

  13. PunditX 13

    NZ First just issue the following press release:
    NZ FIRST COMMITTED TO BUYING BACK STATE-OWNED ASSETS

    New Zealand First will use its influence on the next coalition Government to buy back our state-owned power companies which are being flogged off by National.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters says New Zealand First is committed to buying back the shares at no greater price than paid by the first purchaser.

    “State-owned assets rightfully belong to all New Zealanders but National is intent on handing them over to rich foreign investors.

    “It is simply lining the pockets of the wealthy by selling off well-performing assets that already provide the Government with extremely healthy dividends.”

    Mr Peters says it is only fair to alert potential investors that New Zealand First’s intention to buy back the shares will be part of any coalition negotiations.

    “As things stand now, the assets will end up in foreign ownership which is an outright attack on our sovereignty. We are committed to repelling that attack.”

  14. Populuxe1 14

    Well, we would all like Labour to be able to make that commitment but, in the real world, that would be irresponsible (as irresponsible as, say, locking yourself into asset sales in the middle of a global economic crisis). The incoming government is going to have to know how the bad a situation the Nats are leaving the books in, the regulatory changes it intends to make to electricity (some of which could gut the value of the companies) and the state of the economy.

    This makes absolutely no logical sense. How exactly would it be “irresponsible” in the “real world” for Labour to show some chutzpah and come out against what is a vastly unpopular policy. It can only win them votes. If Labour at the very least protests asset sales, that will only either further encourage National to halt its plans, or it will get voted in in 2014. Best case scenario they can categorically state that assets will be renationalised with a small symbolic compensation. Labour’s job is to prevent the situation getting bad in the first place, or doing it’s best to reverse the damage.  Otherwise Labour are just cowards, plain and simple.
     

  15. tracey 15

    Nationals backers wld love if labour bought them back. Imagine how much they will have miraculously escalated in value in two years yielding a splendidly high and quick profit to those who bought.

    • felix 15.1

      Oh no tracey, you misunderstand. The proposal is to buy them at the initial sale price or less, minus costs.

      (Which I think is far too kind btw)

  16. Fortran 16

    The Greens and the Winston Party have said they will renationalise these companies sold.
    The Greens will then try and shut them down totally as against their religion.

    It seems to be overlooked again that the Government – whoever they are, have 51% of the shares which says that the 49% have NO CONTROL over them whatsoever.

    • Te Reo Putake 16.1

      No, that hasn’t been overlooked, doofus. It’s been ignored because its not true. Minority shareholders have rights and influence. You need to learn a bit about how shares, shareholders and boards work before you comment again, because you are embarrassing yourself.

      • ad 16.1.1

        It goes faster and deeper than that too.

        Even at 100% ownership, Auckland Council didn’t act hard and fast on the Ports of Auckland dispute. But at least there were citizens to shout at them loud and hard.

        Soon as there’s more than one shareholder to consult with, the Executive can divide and rule as well. Witness how nothing ever got done with Watercare other than Business As Usual when there were 6 Local Councils holding all the shares.

        Granted public entities can have more emotional shareholders than most.

        Lose just 5%, and you have to hold a Shareholder meeting to really adjust the course of things. Public don’t have to be invited as it is now a private company. Actual accountability drastically weakens.

        For entities the scale of Genesis, altering the corporate direction becomes much more cumbersome. Management keeps going on their course, pays more attention to regulators to adjust prices than pay attention to their owners, and otherwise can put their feet on the desk. Almost.

        Losing 100% ownership to anything lower is a massive governance and accountability loss. It’s a private company, with a public holding.

  17. JonL 17

    Labour give the appearance of a bunch of gutless fools who think that by saying nothing they won’t offend too many people, when, in reality, they offend everyone. If they don’t make up their minds pretty damn quick, and state exactly where they stand in the NZ scenario, they will continue to bleed supporters.
    That’s assuming they haven’t already stated where they stand, as “Key Lite”, in more and more peoples minds!
    My mates, relations and I have long gone, and, on Labour’s current performance (apart from a few glimmers of suppressed light) won’t be coming back any time soon!

    • ad 17.1

      Is it cynical to point out that the polls seem to have been tracking pretty well for Labour’s direction since November 2011?

      • john 17.1.1

        You are assuming that it must be because Labour is doing something right. It’s probably more likely because people are turning against national, rather than any changes than Labour has made to its policies.

        • Colonial Viper 17.1.1.1

          Voting for the least bad of the big two is not qhat I call motivational.

  18. Tim 18

    Reading this blog you have to conclude that no ‘Govt’ has done a worthy job of running our public assets….and MMP has now made the outcomes even worse for the long suffering ‘public’…..thank goodness for Muldoon and his (think) BIG call on building the infrastructure he did put in place…because without it we would be truely a bunch of low speed pacific islanders….SO Cullen’s purchase of TransRail justifies the fact that NO politician should be in charge of spending (wasting) our hard earned tax dollars. Look at the numbers in that SoE now and the cold hard cash being tipped down that black hole!! And the same politically driven agenda for when AirNZ needs more cash as well as KiwiBank and NZPost. NZ WAKE up!! We have tax revenues topping out at $54B per annum and expenditure at $70B. Public DEBT will top out at close to $70B this cycle. Unless we manage ourselves a lot smarter then we will be facing the abys that Europe is now……I don’t fancy we will; and we have a European ‘system’ that will continually deliver 120 dickheads every 3 years into Wellington ….I need to go for a walk…..

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    Ports of Auckland’s decision to no longer release the toxic fumigant methyl bromide into the atmosphere is a win for their workers and for the environment, says Labour’s Spokesperson for Biosecurity Damien O’Connor.   “The intention to move to a ...
    1 day ago
  • Single Child Tax hidden in Budget
    Buried in National’s so-called family Budget is a Single Child Tax that will hit medium to low income families, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. ...
    1 day ago
  • Commerce Commission investigates Ron Hoy Fong
    The decision by the Commerce Commission to investigate Ron Hoy Fong and his questionable advice to property investors to use fake names and target ‘dummies’ is good news, Labour’s spokesperson on Consumer Affairs Michael Wood says.  “I am pleased that ...
    3 days ago
  • National running out of excuses on Pike
    The latest Pike River revelations further erode National's position of blocking a manned re-entry of the Pike River Mine drift, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 days ago
  • Nats’ Budget locks in housing crisis
    National’s ninth Budget forecasts house prices will rise at three times the rate of wages, locking in the housing crisis for years to come, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “After nine years, all National can offer is a ...
    4 days ago
  • Small change that is sorely needed
    The big headline of the Government’s Budget yesterday was its Family Incomes Package – a range of measures including changes to income tax thresholds and the Family Tax Credit. Overall the Budget is a huge disappointment and a missed opportunity ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    4 days ago
  • Kids bear the brunt of Budget
    Future generations are the ones bearing the brunt of National’s failure to provide education services the funding they need to make ends meet, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “For nine years in a row the Government has told our ...
    4 days ago
  • The real costs of National’s election bribe
    The cost of National’s poorly-targeted election year budget bribe is that there’s nothing to fix the housing crisis, health funding is cut, and funding for schools is cut, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “As the dust begins to settle ...
    4 days ago
  • Health running on empty
    Get ready for more cuts to health at a local level, affecting all New Zealanders, after a Budget that failed to deliver even enough for health services to stand still, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “District Health Boards this ...
    4 days ago
  • Nats’ budget a double-crewed ambulance parked at the bottom of the cliff
    National’s election year Budget shows that there’s no coincidence Finance Minister Steven Joyce doubles as National’s campaign manager, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The 2017 Budget reveals a lack of vision, and is simply an election year budget with ...
    5 days ago
  • After nine years, it’s the One Dollar Bill Budget
    National’s Budget 2017 is an irresponsible election bribe which after nine years exposes a government that’s run out of energy and ideas to tackle the big issues facing New Zealand,” says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “This is simply cynical electioneering ...
    5 days ago
  • Alfred Ngaro might be sorry – but to whom?
    The fact that the number of people classified as homeless on the Social Housing Register has doubled over the past year alone should be the real reason for Alfred Ngaro’s recent apologies, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “As ...
    6 days ago
  • Government’s data-for-funding backdown embarrassing
    The Government’s U-turn on their shambolic attempt to collect private client data from social services is an embarrassment for a senior Minister, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “After months of criticism and mismanagement, the Government has finally cut ...
    6 days ago
  • Overloaded hospitals reach crisis point
      The country’s hospitals have reached breaking point with some hospitals discharging patients to free up bed space and patients with serious injuries having to wait hours to be seen by a doctor, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   ...
    6 days ago
  • National fails on critical school building needs
    Students are paying the price of the Government’s failure to invest fast enough in school buildings to keep pace with Auckland’s increasing population, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Parents should lay the blame for their children having to put up ...
    6 days ago
  • Tipping culture is not welcome in NZ
    Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett’s comments about tipping have been in the news and have sparked off a series of furious discussions about tipping in Aotearoa. From our point of view, tipping every time you’re provided a service is a ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 week ago
  • Mental Health a huge cost for Police
      The cost of dealing with mental health incidents for our police was a staggering $36.7 million which shows just why we need Labour’s fresh approach on Mental Health, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.   “Police now ...
    1 week ago
  • Grant Robertson: Speech to Otago-Southland Employers Association
    Thanks to the Otago Southland Employers Association and Virginia for hosting me this evening.  It is always a pleasure to come back to the city and region that shaped who I am as a person. I believe that growing up ...
    1 week ago
  • Renting a home in the Wild West
    It can be tough renting a place to live, and it could be about to get tougher. Radio NZ is reporting that the American Rentberry app wants to start operating in New Zealand. Rentberry allows landlords to play perspective tenants ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    1 week ago
  • Free West Papua leader in Aotearoa
    Last week I hosted Free West Papua leader Benny Wenda at Parliament and travelled with him to a number of important events. Benny is spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua and lives in exile in England. 14 ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Nats unprepared for record immigration
    National’s under-investment in housing, public services, and infrastructure means New Zealand is literally running out of beds for the record number of new migrants, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour opposes Ports of Auckland sale
    Labour would strongly oppose the sell-off of the Ports of Auckland to fix a short term cash crisis caused by the Government blocking the city’s requests for new ways to fund infrastructure, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. “National ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Workers pay the price of Silver Fern’s Fairton closure
    The threatened closure of Silver Fern Farms’ Fairton Plant in Ashburton raises serious questions about the Government’s support of the sale of half of the company to a foreign company, when it appears this outcome may have been inevitable, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s answer to the housing crisis: One new affordable house per 100 new Aucklanders
    National’s fudge of a housing plan will make Auckland even more of a speculators’ paradise, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government can’t be trusted with private data
    The independent review of the Ministry of Social Development’s data breach in April has shown, once again, that the Ministry cannot be trusted with private client information, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “The investigation by former Deloitte chairman ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Another crisis, another half-baked National plan
    The National Party may have finally woken up to the teacher supply crisis facing our schools but their latest half-baked, rushed announcement falls well short of the mark in terms of what’s required, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nats: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you
    Alfred Ngaro’s recent comments have exposed the Government’s ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’ approach, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Breaking news – National admits there’s a housing crisis
    National finally admits there’s a housing crisis, but today’s belated announcement is simply not a credible response to the problem it’s been in denial about for so long, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “National can’t now credibly claim ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nats lay the ground for housing bust
    Goldman Sachs’ warning that New Zealand has the developed world’s most over-priced housing market, with a 40 per cent chance of a bust within two years, shows the consequences of National’s nine years of housing neglect, says Labour Housing spokesperson ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Well they would say that, wouldn’t they?
    Property investors’ lobby groups have been up in arms this week about Labour and Green parties’ plans to close tax loopholes and fix the housing market. That’s probably a good thing. Like an investor in any other sector, they expect ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Alfred Ngaro reflects National’s culture of silencing debate
    Image from Getty Images Community groups must be free to advocate for the people they serve. It’s these people who see first-hand if ideas dreamt up in Wellington actually work on the ground. It’s essential that they can speak freely ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Bill English must reassure community organisations
    The Prime Minister must do more to reassure community organisations after Cabinet Minister Alfred Ngaro's apparent threats to their funding if they criticise government policy which has left a born-to-rule perception amongst many, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Alfred Ngaro ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Extremism and its discontents
    Another scar on global democracy appeared recently, this time in Germany.It seems that the number of soldiers on duty with extremist political leanings has become a concern to the military leadership in that country. Soldiers were found openly possessing ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham
    2 weeks ago
  • Government’s suicide approach disappoints
    Mike King’s sudden departure from the Government’s suicide prevention panel, amid claims the Government’s approach is ‘deeply flawed’, is further evidence National is failing on mental health, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. “Mental health is reaching crisis point in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National backs speculators, fails first home buyers
    National is showing its true colours and backing speculators who are driving first home buyers out of the market, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “By defending a $150m a year hand-out to property speculators, Bill English is turning his back ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More oversight by Children’s Commissioner needed
    More funding and more independence is required for the Children’s Commissioner to function more effectively in the best interests of Kiwi kids in State care, says Labour’s spokesperson for children Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to end tax breaks for speculators; invest in warm, healthy homes
    Labour will shut down tax breaks for speculators and use the savings to help make 600,000 homes warmer and healthier over the next ten years, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “It’s time for fresh thinking to tackle the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Health of young people a priority for Labour
    Labour will ensure all young people have access to a range of health care services on-site at their local secondary school, says Labour’s deputy leader Jacinda Ardern. “Our policy will see School Based Health Services extended to all public secondary ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ratifying the TPPA makes no sense
    The recent high-fiving between the government and agricultural exporters over ratification of the TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) is empty gesture politics in an election year. Ratification by New Zealand means nothing. New Zealand law changes are not implemented unless the ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    3 weeks ago
  • NIWA report proves National’s trickery re swimmable rivers
    National have a slacker standard for swimmable rivers than was the case prior to their recent so-called Clean Water amendment to the National Policy Statement (NPS), says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker. “The table 11 on page 25 of the ...
    3 weeks ago
  • MPS shows new approach needed on housing
    The Reserve Bank’s latest Monetary Policy Statement provides further evidence that only a change in government will start to fix the housing crisis, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “It is more evident than ever that only a Labour-led government ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Fresh approach on mental health
    Labour will introduce a pilot scheme of specialist mental health teams across the country in government to ensure swifter and more effective treatment for those who need urgent help, says Labour’s Leader Andrew Little. “Mental health is in crisis. It ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Sallies back Labour’s plan for affordable homes
    The country’s most respected social agency has endorsed Labour’s KiwiBuild plan to build homes that families can afford to buy, and delivered a withering assessment of the National Government’s housing record, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Education is for everyone, not just the elite
    Proposals by the National Party to ration access to higher education will once again make it a privilege only available to the elite, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Speaking at the Education Select Committee, Maurice Williamson let the National ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Cancer support changes far too little, certainly late
    Anne Tolley’s belated backtrack to finally allow Jobseeker clients suffering from cancer to submit only one medical certificate to prove their illness fails to adequately provide temporary support for people too sick to work, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel ...
    3 weeks ago