Werewolf: Ten Myths about Asset Sales

Written By: - Date published: 1:26 pm, September 13th, 2011 - 27 comments
Categories: privatisation - Tags:

Gordon Campbell at Werewolf has an excellent piece pointing out the flaws in Asset Sales. Here’s a quick summary, but it’s worth the read in its entirety (there’s a large pre-amble and conclusion, and an 11th myth!).

1. Asset sales will reduce debt and help the government to balance the books .

Selling all or part of a public asset is one option for raising funds to pay off debt. It provides only a one- off benefit, though. The alternative would be to keep all of the asset, retain the strategic planning advantages this affords, and reap the dividends over time. Unfortunately, the government has never put on a white board the net long term benefits of both options – vis a vis the cost of borrowing to repay debt – so that the public can make informed choices about what they’d like to see done with their assets.

2. Asset sales will create an opportunity for ordinary New Zealanders – the so- called “Mum and Dad investors” – to own a stake in some top notch companies.

The obvious rejoinder is that every New Zealand taxpayer already owns these top notch assets, and that stake will now be diluted and sold off to a mixture of local and foreign buyers. Those New Zealand private investors who can afford to reap the benefits will be anything but ‘ordinary” folk and/or everyone’s typical “Mum and Dad” –given that market analysts estimate that barely 10 % of New Zealanders currently invest in the sharemarket. Even if these new and enticing prospects kick that figure up to 15%, we’re still talking about an elite group of “ordinary” Kiwis – and by and large, they will be the sort of Mums and Dads you’d be more likely to run into down at the tennis club, than on housie night at the RSA.. In sum, a stake currently owned by many will be sold off to the relatively few. On past history (see below) even those anything-but-ordinary Kiwis don’t tend to hang onto their shares for very long.

3. Asset sales will help boost the appeal of the New Zealand sharemarket as a place to invest.

Yet again, one has to query whether existing public assets should be being used for this purpose, to enhance the appeal of investing in shares. Shouldn’t the private sector be creating new enterprises that attract investors? Isn’t that how capitalism is supposed to work?

4. Asset sales will bring private sector disciplines and efficiencies to bear on the performance of these assets.

To some, the superiority of New Zealand’s private sector managers is an article of faith. Not even the real life example of Air New Zealand – which as mentioned, is back in government hands only because of the disastrous foray by the airline’s previous private owners into the Australian airline business – can shake the true believers.

5. The shareholding will stay in New Zealand hands.

No, not if the sale by the previous National government to a prior generation of “Mum and Dad’ investors is anything to go by. In January, Labour leader Phil Goff released figures showing that within six months of the Contact Energy sale in 1999, the number of shareholders had fallen by 34, 845. As of last year, there were only 80,911 shareholders – as compared to 220,000 immediately after the sale. The 51% majority shareholder is now Origin Energy, which is Australian-owned. Just over 75% of the shares are now held by a mere 20 companies.

6. Asset sales will increase the pool of national savings and investment.

Well, not really. A fair chunk of the proceeds from selling the family silver will go – unsustainably – into day-to-day running costs. According to this year’s Budget papers, the sell-down of state energy companies and the reduction of the shareholding of Air NZ is forecast to pay for one third of the spending envisaged on schools, health and government services over the next three to five years. To which many taxpayers would respond….why not retain them and use the entire revenue stream to help bankroll those same social needs for generations to come?

7. This is a good time to sell state assets.

Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that there is ever a good time to sell off stakes in our key publicly owned energy assets. Is next year a really good time to do so? Hardly. When historians look back at this period of economic history they will probably shake their heads in wonder at the counter-intuitive response of governments during the financial crisis. Given the belt-tightening climate, who would expect to get top dollar from a bunch of depressed local and foreign bidders?

8. We have to sell state assets now, to pay off debt.

Not proven. This late in the game, it has still yet to be established that New Zealand’s debt position is so parlous that it is necessary to sell state assets. And as mentioned, it may well be less expensive to borrow to pay the debt until the recovery arrives and those debts are repaid – with the help of the entire profit stream from those assets.

9. Privatisation, either full or partial, is a driver of innovation.

Well no. In fact, Telecom was the poster child for the contrary view that privatization in monopoly or near-monopoly conditions is more likely to create an active dis-incentive to innovate, given that the incumbent will have every reason and opportunity to block the onset of the competition that is the true stimulus for innovation.

Telecom was never pro-active, and rarely an agent of innovation. By the mid 2000s, its use of its dominant position to delay innovation (and competition) had left New Zealand 22nd out of 30 OECD countries in broadband adoption, with high speed Internet uptake being only half the OECD average, while the cost of high speed business broadband was the second most expensive in the OECD.

10. The asset sales are consistent with the government’s energy planning.

Well no, they tend to negate it. Flimsy as it was, the energy plan eventually released by MP Hekia Parata in late August restated a target of reaching a 90 % renewables energy target by 2025, but without giving any tangible details of how the government proposes to reach it. At the same time it put out the welcome mat for the foreign oil exploration multinationals, and signalled that most of the government’s effort would be going into oil and gas exploration.

In sum, selling the current stake in the four state energy companies and in Air New Zealand makes little economic or social sense. By default, the partial privatizations the government has in mind are merely the latest round of asset-stripping the New Zealand economy, almost entirely for the benefit of local and offshore investors.

It is not as if there are not alternatives on the table. Further borrowing and a strategy to stimulate growth to pay down the costs involved as the business recovery picks up pace is the traditional approach – and one that would be only a little more costly (if at all) than selling down the energy SOEs and foregoing a bigger share of the dividends from them forever more. In the run-up to the election, Labour and the Greens will also be advocating another alternative to asset sales, spearheaded by a capital gains tax and a more progressive top tax rate.

Full article.

27 comments on “Werewolf: Ten Myths about Asset Sales”

  1. Rijab 1

    Well that pretty much does it, now wait for the media to jump up and down at such an in-depth analysis and demand a response from the Government!

    … oh wait.

  2. Bill 2

    Said it before, saying it again.

    We, the general public have no tangible expression of our ownership of SOEs. If the linked article is correct, the four power companies returned dividends last financial year of NZ$732.5 million.

    I’ve no idea how many SOEs there are or what the total $ amount for the government is through dividends collected.

    But if a small set %age of the dividend stream was earmarked for an annual cash payment to all tax payers, then we would have some tangible evidence of our ownership. It might not be much in cash terms, but it would at least be tangible. The government would more or less instantly recoup 15% of such a payout through GST and the economy would experience a boost every 12 months as most of what was paid was spent back into the economy.

    And since the payout from dividends would rise in straight dollar terms in tandem with the profitability of SOEs, it would be natural to give custom to SOEs rather than wholly private entities where a choice existed. Meaning that SOE’s would inevitably do better than they do at present as their market share rose. Meaning more money flowing to government coffers to spend on health, eduction etc.

    Can anyone tell me why such an idea might not be workable? And if there is no fatal flaw I’ve overlooked, why no-one with the potential to be a part of government is making such a proposal?

    I mean, if nothing else it ends this bloody stupid merry-go-round of selling assets and buying them back to sell all over again.

    • Blighty 2.1

      The idea that some of the revenue should go to taxpayers is nice in theory but lets do some sums.

      What’s not a risible amount per person for an annual dividend? $100?

      That’s $440 million, or half the SOE dividend stream. A lot of revenue to replace from somewhere else.

      And then there’s the rights issue. Would you be able to sell your right to the annual dividend? Of course, not directly, I presume. But how can you stop a derivatives market? You sign a contract to annually pay me an amount that just happens to be equal to your annual dividend and I give you cash up front. – You end up with a whole lot of poor people cashing up their dividend stream at a poor price.

      • Bill 2.1.1

        I don’t know what the total revenue stream is. You say it’s $880 million? I wouldn’t know.

        Anyway, 50% is ridiculously high. As I said, even if the dollar amount is small…even peanuts… the psychology of having some tangible mark of ownership is what counts more. And over time, with people being more naturally inclined to give their custom to their SOEs (just because they are theirs) the total revenue stream to government would increase. (I’m not saying that would one day result in fantastic yearly pay outs to tax payers, what with NZ being so small etc, but that’s not really the point…)

      • Lanthanide 2.1.2

        $100 is chump change and won’t make a noticable difference to anyone – who would care if their annual $100 got reduced to only $50 because the SoE was sold?

        You’d need to be talking >$500 before people would sit up and notice. This is simply an unreasonable amount of money to be giving away to taxpayers though.

        Some possible ways to drive up the $ per person (by reducing the number of people eligible):
        1. Anyone > 18+
        2. Anyone not on a benefit
        3. Anyone who paid net positive income tax towards the government

        #3 probably has the biggest potential to reduce numbers eligible. Say we go from $100 to $500 year, that would cost $2.2b, but if you then reduce the number of people receiving it by 5 by and you’re back at the $440m cost but each person eligible gets $500.

        This might seem unfair, but it is these ‘rich’ people paying positive net income tax who also have the most to gain from SoE sales, so giving them a disincentive to want to hock them off is logical.

        There are of course 3 major problems with this whole thing, though:
        1. Administration overheads make it impractical
        2. Political football choosing who gets it and who doesn’t
        3. The state would be better off privitising the assets because they’re already forgoing the dividend stream, at least that way they’d be able to get a lump-sum payout.

        • Bill 2.1.2.1

          Lanth & Blighty.

          It’s not about the money.

          It’s about generating a sense of ownership. If you want to focus on the quantum of money for the individual, then have the whole bloody lot privatised and buy shares.

          The money is a token – a gesture if you will. And it’s for nothing. It’s a bit like somebody walking up to you in the street and giving you a $20 note….just because ‘you’re in’.

          Or think of it as brand, brand recognition, brand building and brand support. The ABs ‘belong’ to NZers, right? People support them in an emotional sense, even though they are nothing but a business these days due to the professionalisation and corporatisation of sport. But utility companies and all the other SOEs can’t key into that sporting ticket…they can’t offer entertainment and spectacle.

          Odd thing is, the SOE’s actually are ours. The ABs aren’t. And the SOEs do provide us with tangible things, both directly through various services and indirectly through the revenue stream collected by government. The ABs don’t.

          But what sort of reaction do you reckon there might be to a suggestion that the ABs were floated on the stock market? You think there might be an outcry? At least a lot of debate and limelight? A demand from people for information and explanations?

          Yet, the ABs are a wholly private concern offering no tangible benefits to ordinary people. Yes, they are a somewhat useful marketing tool that raises NZs profile and yes, they can engender a ‘feel good’ factor in people due to peoples’ emotional identification with them. But that’s all pretty abstract.

          SOE’s give us real things. But there is no sense of attachment; no identification with them…no projected pride or whatever.

          In a social democratic setup we just aren’t going to get any hands on democratic participation happening with regards these entities that are ours. And most of us don’t consider them to be ours. They are just companies, removed and detached from our every day experience. Hell, who knows how many there are or what they do? Sure. You can look it up, but the fact is you’d have to look it up. (Or at least the overwhelming majority of people would)

          So a token – a gesture, which with the right propaganda (marketing) has the potential over time to engender a sense of ‘belonging’ or of identifying has no down side.

          Adminstratively it would cost minimal amounts. The IRD could simply use it’s existing systems to pass the ‘token of good will’ as it were, on to every NZ tax payer…in tandem with good marketing hammering home the good points of SOEs and the fact that they belong to us in a very real sense.

          And with good amrketing, us customers switch to our companies in preference to the other companies and the governments’ revenue stream increases over time with the increasing market share of SOEs.

          It could even become such (and why not?) that companies spawned from government R&D are set up on similar lines in preference to the fruits of publicly funded R&D falling into private hands for wholly private profit.

          And if you don’t want the $20 or whatever, then pass it to charity. $20 spread across whatever the total number of tax payers in NZ going directly back into the economy means the government recoups 15% anyway and the economy, the private sector, gets a wee bit…just a wee bit of a boost. Which isn’t a bad thing in a market context, is it?

        • Vicky32 2.1.2.2

          $100 is chump change and won’t make a noticable difference to anyone – who would care if their annual $100 got reduced to only $50 because the SoE was sold?

          Lolwut? $100.00 chump change? $100.00 has never been chump change to me, even when I was working… There’s a huge chasm between the way you see the world and the way I see it, obviously. $100.00 is what I earn from a day’s work (when I can get it.) $100.00 pays my power bill and part of my phone bill. $100.00 is 2/3 of my weekly benefit. Chump change? Don’t be absurd. Really, I don’t have the words, but I have to ask, would you light a barbecue with $20.00 notes? Are you one of the people the Reserve bank used to quote as considering that 5c and 10c  should be abolished because “no one” bothers to pick them up in the street… If so, thanks a whole bunch. Obviously you’ve never raised children!

          2. Anyone not on a benefit
          3. Anyone who paid net positive income tax towards the government

          Again, thanks a bunch. Marie Antoinette much?

          • Jum 2.1.2.2.1

            You tell ’em Vicky32.

            The reason for SOEs is to not only act as a watching brief on private business in New Zealand but more importantly to provide an income stream for New Zealand public’s welfare and health. Take those assets away and this government removes the security of income and safety for future generations.

            Look at Ports of Auckland, e.g.

            I was told that the income from Ports of Auckland was partly/wholly put towards decent public transport for New Zealanders. With the safeguard of 75% agreement to sell off that asset removed by the sad, bad Rodney Hide, we not only lose that income from 2012 but we lose income directed solely to supporting public transport infrastructure.

            Don’t think it will happen Kiwis? Watch this space if NAct gets in again.

  3. randal 3

    Well if you think you are going to get any change out of the press then you are badly mistaken. The entire media is taken up with stories about standing in queues after a football match, slavish drooling over long forgotten literary anachronisms and other total irrelevancies. The radio is cluttered with manic n*bars using interrogatives at the end of every sentence and playing naff music. The country has regressed into an atavistic state of post bottle feeding euphoria that will not admit any reality whatsoever.

  4. tc 4

    ‘Asset sales will bring private sector disciplines and efficiencies to bear on the performance of these assets.’
    Not gunna happen in the power sector, no competition in generation so it’s a gravy train and there’s little technology innovation that’s not already known to the power generators.
    Like this happened in telecom/rail etc and also if it were true why aren’t contact energy sooo far ahead of the other generators as an efficient model operator eh…..cue the trolls.

  5. Rick Rowling 5

    /not denying anything in the above article, just food for thought

    (1) Are all asset sales (of NZ Gov’t owned assets) bad?

    (2) If so, does this mean that the NZ Gov’t has exactly the right mix of assets now?

    (3) Or does this mean that all assets the NZ Gov’t currently own should be gov’t owned, but there are more that it should own.

    (4) or something else?

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      1. No.
      4. Assets should be sold on a case-by-case basis that carefully considers the importance of the asset to the country, the likely price that will be realised, the reduction in future dividends or costs and the overhead costs of the sale. At the very least.

      • queenstfarmer 5.1.1

        Agreed, I would add a couple of other criteria (to the extent not implicit in the above), such as:
        – opportunity cost
        – ease of renationalisation (an overlooked advantage of publicly floating a minority stake is that the Govt can relatively easily launch a takeover bid if it wants to renationalise the full asset, or even part of it)
        – the likely future capital requirements of the asset
        – market timing
        – sharemarket stimulation (e.g. the Kiwisaver funds will be able to buy into more local assets, instead of boomerang investing the borrowed money back off shore).

        • NickS 5.1.1.1

          One thing you’re missing: – Is it a natural monopoly?

          • insider 5.1.1.1.1

            That can be overcome by regulation. Think lines companies which are owned by a variety of players around the country.

            • NickS 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Regulation only works so far, for one it’s useless in getting private monopolies to properly invest in infrastructure per Telecom and Toll, and there’s also an incentive to under invest in order to boost profit margins in the short term. On top of tending to lead to higher prices on services due to lack of competition.

              Where as SOE’s can be easily built to purposely fully maintain and invest in new infrastructure as needed, and ironically some of those line companies you talk about are SOE’s such as Orion, which owns the lines and distribution infrastructure in Christchurch.

              • insider

                Orion is not an soe its community owned, and it is highly regulated in terms of rate of return and investment. But so is powerco which is private, and transpower which is an soe, and vector which is mixed. Note that vector and transpower have both had special measures imposed by the commerce commission for rorting customers, private ones haven’t.

        • insider 5.1.1.2

          I’d add another – will it limit govt temptation and opportunity to meddle in day to day business.

          The electricity market is a shocker for that, with govt appointed lackies to boards and regulators, and managers always having to second guess what the minister may or may not want. It makes planning very difficult around a change in govt, and it makes the industries far more political than they perhaps should be. You don’t see the kind of industry wide game playing in finance, oil, insurance or manufacturing. Getting rid of that is a good thing.

          • NickS 5.1.1.2.1

            lolwut?

            The electricity market is a mess because of Max Bradford’s idiotic reforms based solely on ideology that split up the single power gen and distro SOE into multiple SOE’s that had to compete against each other. And so created multiple inefficiencies via duplication and the need for marketing departments, and so on.

            Though yes, SOE’s are not meant to messed around with by Crown Ministers in order to avoid the funtimes had during the Muldoon era without very solid reasons…

            • insider 5.1.1.2.1.1

              It’s solely ideology and selective memory to say things were better before the reforms. There was large scale cross subsidization of retail consumers and the system was less reliable.

    • Vicky32 5.2

      Rick Rowling

      Never gonna give you up
      Never gonna let you down
      Never gonna run around

      and desert you…


      Sorry, I can’t resist…

  6. Jum 6

    ‘ 3. Asset sales will help boost the appeal of the New Zealand sharemarket as a place to invest.

    Yet again, one has to query whether existing public assets should be being used for this purpose, to enhance the appeal of investing in shares. Shouldn’t the private sector be creating new enterprises that attract investors? Isn’t that how capitalism is supposed to work? ‘

    So now I can add extras to the already dismal characteristics of National and ActU – thieving, selfish, greedy AND lazy.

  7. mik e 7

    well they can’t do that fast enough now because the opportunities in the private sector are laissez fair, No long term projects that would reap a more consistent returns .Short sighted quick buck mentality Brian Gaynor says that I agree with him. Rod Oram New Zealand Is run by bad management Pike river dairying including a very poor investment in R&D surveys showing time after time that we need better trained management . Dairying is one area that would benefit hugely with better training would have a huge lift in productivity and therefore profitability while lowering pollution and carbon tax. Govt leadership on this issue is at lada level when toyota is needed

  8. mik e 8

    Killing the geese that lay golden eggs
    profits of four out of five of these companies are up by as much as 50%
    Ditching your best performing assets is only done in the private sector when a company is going bankrupt or badly managed.

  9. marsman 9

    Privatisation whether total or partial of publicly owned assets is plunder pure and simple. We have plenty of imperical evidence showing this. NAct have NO rational argument for their scam.

  10. Afewknowthetruth 10

    The term ‘Fifth Column’ came out of the Spanish Civil War to describe a group within an organisation who sabotage the organisation from the inside.

    Key and his cronies couldn’t care less about the future of NZ or the future of NZers. Key is working to promote the interests of global corporations.

    If global corporations want a beer swilling contest in Auckland, that is what global corporations get.

    If global corporations want to take control of utilities vital to the functioning of a nation that is what global corporations get.

    Of course, in the case of Bolivia it did eventually backfire: Bechtel had to make a hasty retreat when ‘the natives’ revolted and the governer was forced to flee.

    NZ is quite along way from that point at the moment.

  11. Afewknowthetruth 11

    The entire economic-political system functions by establishing and maintaining myths. And a large portion of mainstream media works frantically to maintain those myths.

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    Yesterday NZDF officials were put on the stand about the lies they had told over Operation Burnham, making implausible claims that it was all a big mistake. But along the way, we learned they had already been put on the spot about it by a previous Defence Minister, who had ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Not as important as they think they are
    Farmers have been whining a lot lately, about the methane targets in the Zero Carbon Bill, about Canterbury's proposed nitrogen limits, and about the government's new proposals to stop them from shitting in our lakes and rivers. These policies are "throwing farmers under the tractor", they will force farmers off ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Behind Every Good Woman Should Stand – Another Good Woman.
    Alone, Alone, All, All, Alone: To argue that the Prime Minister is the victim of her advisers’ failure to keep her informed may offer Jacinda some measure of exoneration – but only at the cost of casting her as a hopeless political ingénue. A star-dusted muppet, whose only purpose is to ...
    4 days ago
  • Poor quality, poorly educated kiddie ‘Journalists’ spreading fake news
    In times of hysteria about the “World coming to an end” and “rising sea levels” so-called ‘Journalists’ who can barely spell words longer than four letters are having a ball! Though the majority of the Public have worked out that manmade climate change is nothing short of pseudo-science, and the ...
    An average kiwiBy admin@averagekiwi.com
    4 days ago
  • Chris Trotter on the BFD
    I don't want to give pblicity to certain parts of the internet that are better left to fester in their own irrelevance (I know, a bit like this place) but the listing of Chris Trotter as a 'author' on Cameron Slater's spinoff website, the BFD requires some explanation.Now, I don't ...
    4 days ago
  • Sex is not a spectrum
    The text below is a Twitter thread by Heather Heying that explains the essence of sexual reproduction and it long evolutionary history. She is an evolutionary biologist and a “professor-in-exile” after she and her husband, Bret Weinstein, stood up to supporters of an enforced “Day of Absence” for white staff and teachers ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    4 days ago
  • Climate Change: Trees, aviation, and offsets
    With crunch time for new Zealand climate policy approaching, most of the New Zealand media have got on board with a global reporting effort to cover the issue. There's one strand of stories today about polling and what it shows about changing public attitudes to the crisis, but the strand ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Pissing-Off The Israelis Is A High-Risk Strategy.
    Dangerous Foes: For those readers of Bowalley Road who feel disposed to dismiss any prospect of an Israeli destabilisation of New Zealand politics, the example of the United Kingdom repays close attention. Ever since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party, the Israelis have sanctioned, funded and ...
    4 days ago
  • Something to go to in Wellington
    Make It 16, the youth-led campaign to lower New Zealand's voting age, is holding an official campaign launch at Parliament this Friday from 16:30. If you'd like to attend, you can register using EventBrite here. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • A founding member responds to Peace Action Wellington
    by Don Franks It was a lovely sunny Wellington afternoon with blue skies above  the beaches.  In Courtenay Place, political activists packed out a stuffy upstairs room for an important meeting. The assembled pacifists, anarchists, communists and independent young radicals of Peace Action Wellington felt the need for a mission ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • “Mistakes and errors”
    Current and former NZDF top brass are being publicly grilled this week by the hit and run inquiry over their public responses to allegations of civilian casualties. Previously, they've claimed there were no casualties, a position which led them to lie to Ministers and to the public. Now, they're saying ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • “Homosexuality is same-sex attraction and relationships, not heterosexuals with delusions of gende...
    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    5 days ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    7 days ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    7 days ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    1 week ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    1 week ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    1 week ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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