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Worst. Negotiators. Ever.

Written By: - Date published: 6:46 am, March 29th, 2013 - 239 comments
Categories: capitalism - Tags:

First they got down on their knees for a massive American movie studio and negotiated away oodles of taxpayer dollars and our employment law for movies that were always going to be made in New Zealand.

Then they got all cosy with an Aussie casino company and sold off a chunk of law and god only knows how many dollars in social costs for a conference center that we don’t really need.

Now it looks like they’re going to give a multinational aluminium smelting company a super sweet deal on electricity at the expense of both the crown accounts and everyone else who uses electricity because they’re worried about the surplus electricity will tank the sale of Mighty River. Effectively cutting an awful costly deal in order to protect an even more awful and more costly one.

Sometimes I think Key and the rest of his chumps are trying to prove the rightwing adage that government should stay out of business by f**king it up like a bunch of amateurs every time they step in. But I guess it’s only our money they’re pissing away…

239 comments on “Worst. Negotiators. Ever.”

  1. Dv 1

    Dont forget the EXTRA payments to Novaoay.
    Rio tito will have seen how we rolled over for warners.

  2. Jenny 2

    New Zealanders should have the benefit of lower electricity prices…..

    We should shut down all coal fired power stations…..

    The sale of Meridean Energy should be stopped……

    We should oppose all corporate welfare for the rich and powerful while everyone else suffers….

    What’s not to like?

  3. wyndham 3

    Telecom a good example of how much more efficiently the “private sector” runs business ! Thousands of staff too many and now due for the chop.

    • Jenny 3.1

      Telecom’s corporate managers have realised that they can make just as much profit with a less responsive and reliable service. No need to pay all those line workers and technician drudges who actually run the system. Leaving lots more money available for the huge salaries drawn by the useless drones at the top.

      Watch the outages go up, as the maintenance goes down.

      • freedom 3.1.1

        and as ever, month by month, the cost climbs to build nothing but the endless pillars of profit

      • Arfamo 3.1.2

        Aren’t telecom saying that they are getting rid of layers of “managers” though?

        • wyndham 3.1.2.1

          But then they would say that.

          • Colonial Viper 3.1.2.1.1

            Managers are just glorified line workers. Paid monthly. Wearing a suit. But serfs nonetheless.

            Notice how Telecon aren’t getting rid of any directors or major shareholders.

        • Ed 3.1.2.2

          On radio this morning – Telecom will be left with at least as many staff on over $130,000 p.a. as Vodafone employ in total (or was that currently have that many over $130,000). Sounds like they were more than a little overstaffed – possibly the result of the Deane/Gattung years which did not handle anything well except Executive / Board remuneration – where they got what they wanted.

        • freedom 3.1.2.3

          It is largely to be creative and technical people from the ‘product creation’ businesses according to the original reporting. Whch is no doubt why Orcon and co have been so quick to say they will be wanting to take what they can of these hard to find skillsets, but it won’t be much. Cannot see Telco’s making public statements about any intentions of grabbing a few extra account managers. These are job losses that will remove even more skilled people from our shores. (note; Not meaning to sound like i am bagging on business managers, but in relation to the circumstances, they are plentiful )

  4. Jenny 4

    Labour’s David Parker, common sense statement is an almost carbon copy of Lynn Prentice’s Post yesterday.

    A subsidy to the smelter would see other power companies sold at an “inflated price” according to Labour’s economic spokesman, David Parker.

    Parker said he had “huge concerns” about the lack of transparency in the talks between Government and Rio Tinto.

    “The effect of that is higher (electricity) prices for consumers and further undermining of an already uncompetitive electricity market,” Parker said.

    “Consumers are going to pay the price,” Parker said.

    The only way the Government could get through the asset sales programme was by pushing through a deal with Rio Tinto “that will result in higher electricity prices for consumers”, Parker said.

    If the smelter shut down, the extra electricity supply would mean the Huntly coal-fired power plants would close and some gas-fired stations, and wholesale power prices would fall as a result and the drop would be “substantial”.

    “The optimal solution is to walk away (from the smelter) and let New Zealand have lower power prices,” Parker said, warning that it was likely to be “a secret deal”.

    David Parker argues that Tiwai, should be allowed to close

    • Wayne 4.1

      So Jenny, Should Tiwai close, with all the job losses that would entail. Of course we don’t know the level of price concession being offered. Is it comparatively small or rather large? It makes all the difference,

      I guess if Tiwai did close, power prices would fall, since total demand would have dropped by 15%. Of course that is usually a National Govt argument, small benefits for everyone outweighing the severe cost for some. In this instance that means the loss of 3000 to 5000 jobs in Southland at the smelter itself and all the suppliers directly affected.

      In addition the value of all power companies drops, no matter who owns them.

      Surely the logical approach for Govt is to do an overall assessment of the costs and benefits to society as a whole. This is what a Govt can do, but which a firm cannot do.

      If the price has to be say 10% lower than it might have been, that probably means the nett benefit for the economy is positive, compared to the alternative. Manupouri was built for the smelter, with a 24 hour base load relatively close to the user. If the smelter closed the power would go north, with quite large transmission losses. All power companies would have to reduce prices, and the most inefficient generator would close – I guess Huntly – in an effort to keep prices up.

      Not an easy situation for any Govt to deal with. If it happens on your watch, you have to make a real decision. It is not about Rio and its shareholders, it is about Southland and the overall effect on the New Zealand economy and the communities. That is what Govts have to think about.

      • Jenny 4.1.1

        Southland will be better served by getting rid of this corporate leech that is sucking energy from our grid, which makes us reliant on on coal, the most dangerous of all fossil fuels. Worsening the climate and wrecking farming with climate change fueled drought.

        The workers at Tiwai would be better served fighting for a proper exit package now. They would have the support of the whole country behind them. The alternative for the Tiwai workforce is wait to be dumped at Rio Tinto’s leisure, with nothing to show for it, but a degraded and ruined local and global environment, left to their children and their children’s children.

      • geoff 4.1.2

        Wayne, as usual you’re wrong and full of it.

        Wayne says: Not an easy situation for any Govt to deal with.

        They wouldn’t be in the situation if they weren’t trying to flog off assets.
        Key and English have stubbornly pushed their stupid plan against all better advice and now their bargaining power is completely down the toilet. Rio Tinto has National over a barrel.

        At what point do you realise you’ve backed a loser, Wayne?

        Just how dumb are you?

        • Wayne 4.1.2.1

          Well if you want to say the 47% who voted National are dumb, go for it. Probably not the best way to get them to change their point of view.

          • IrishBill 4.1.2.1.1

            You can do better than resorting to that tired old saw, Wayne. I’m interested, the unemployment rate in Southland is 3.9% but in Gisborne it’s 9.9% why do you feel the government should be putting job creation subsidies into the former but not the latter?

          • Chris Miller 4.1.2.1.2

            Yes that’s exactly what we’re saying. The voters should have forseen every single change in the market that’s happened since November 2011. New information from Treasury on the costs of sale, potential Treaty breaches, Solid Energy’s collapse, Rio Tinto… I mean, how could they possibly not have known this would happen? What dumbarses.

          • The al1en 4.1.2.1.3

            “if you want to say the 47% who voted National are dumb, go for it.”

            I prefer somewhat retarded.

            “Probably not the best way to get them to change their point of view.”

            So, fuck ’em.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.3

        In this instance that means the loss of 3000 to 5000 jobs in Southland at the smelter itself and all the suppliers directly affected.

        Yeah, that’s what happens when companies are uneconomic.

        In addition the value of all power companies drops, no matter who owns them.

        You’re wrong o two counts:
        1.) If we owned them the value wouldn’t drop at all as we’d still have the Social Good of them.
        2.) If they’re privately owned or the government is looking to sell them to the private sector then the value drops due to the fact that the profit drops along with the decrease in demand for power.

        Surely the logical approach for Govt is to do an overall assessment of the costs and benefits to society as a whole.

        I suppose it would be but this government isn’t doing that and doesn’t do that. If it did then the rolling stock for Kiwirail would have been made in NZ and they wouldn’t be selling the power companies.

        Considering these truths we can only conclude that this government is doing this for the benefit of Big Business – foreign Big Business at that – and that it will be bad for NZ as a whole.

        All power companies would have to reduce prices, and the most inefficient generator would close – I guess Huntly – in an effort to keep prices up.

        See, this is where having the state owning the power companies and the grid as a single state owned monopoly run as a government service pays off – they wouldn’t have to raise prices. They’d merely close the inefficient fuel burners and get on with supplying the country with affordable and reliable power.

        It is not about Rio and its shareholders…

        Yes, it is. If we had a good welfare system and free education the loss of those jobs wouldn’t be a problem as the people would still be supported, wouldn’t be forced into poverty and would easily be able to retrain. Instead this government is cutting the welfare system to shreds, dropping more people into poverty and making it harder for people to retrain.

        This government is doing everything backwards and it only benefits the rich while being bad for the country.

        • Puddleglum 4.1.3.1

          If we had a good welfare system and free education the loss of those jobs wouldn’t be a problem as the people would still be supported, wouldn’t be forced into poverty and would easily be able to retrain. Instead this government is cutting the welfare system to shreds, dropping more people into poverty and making it harder for people to retrain.

          That’s the nub of it.

          If we put as a priority looking after each other then we wouldn’t have to kow-tow to wealthy corporates. It would make New Zealand a much stronger society. The approach currently adopted makes us weak and easy-pickings in the global marketplace (although a very small minority of New Zealanders may benefit financially from that national weakness).

      • DH 4.1.4

        “This is what a Govt can do, but which a firm cannot do.”

        And if the Govt doesn’t own Meridian 100% then it can’t do it can it. A very good reason why strategic assets shouldn’t be sold and yet Wayne here is a fan of asset sales. The hypocrisy is rather galling.

    • dumrse 4.2

      And then David could dribble on about the lost employment opportunities.

    • Anne 4.3

      Labour’s David Parker, common sense statement is an almost carbon copy of Lynn Prentice’s Post yesterday.

      So Labour members of parliament DO take notice of TS.

      They would be fools if they didn’t because my observation is, there are quite a few boffins and lateral thinkers on this site whose knowledge and experiences are worthy of the closest scrutiny.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.3.1

        The people at large have far more wisdom than the boffins in parliament. It is for this reason that we need to move to a more democratic system and binding referenda.

        • Anne 4.3.1.1

          Umm… may have misread you DTB but that’s what I’m saying. There are people on this site who have far more knowledge (and wisdom) than half the Labour Caucus. That is why they should read TS and become better informed.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.3.1.1.1

            I was agreeing with you but I was also saying that we should be looking further than just The Standard and that people needed to be brought more into the policy making process.

    • Perplexed 4.4

      I agree with Parker in principal.
      I can’t say that ive seen the figures, but i strongly expect that a drop in the price of electricity will have sognificamt benefits to the wider community. Cost of heating will reduce and more employmemt can be created.
      I’m sorry for the 400 workers, but would be happy with the upside for the rest of the community.

      • Chris Miller 4.4.1

        Agree. The last two winters I’ve been involved in work helping people to pay their power bills. It was absolutely astounding talking to some people who would suffer through subzero temperatures not daring to turn a heater on because if they did they couldn’t afford to eat. It’s a massive health concern, especially in houses that are also damp (can’t run a dehumidifier if you can’t afford to use the power), over-crowded (country-wide but especially South Auckland and Christchurch), and damaged (Christchurch) and almost certainly costs us a ton not only when they enter the health system but in lost productivity because people are getting too sick to work. Considering we’re expecting another cold winter, we should be thrilled at the prospect of lower prices.

        • geoff 4.4.1.1

          Yup I’ve seen it myself too. Elderly people in state houses who ration themselves one hour in front of the heater in the morning because that’s all they can afford. And this was in 2002.

          • xtasy 4.4.1.1.1

            geoff –

            I thought that just about ALL state homes had been “insulated” by now?

            Or is that bit of foil underneath the floor-boards, and the extra padding on the ceiling, now not doing the job it is meant to?

            What I saw for “insulation” at a mate’s Housing NZ home months ago was a bit of a joke. And then a heat-pump (sucking lots of electriciy) in a totally silly place next to a large window.

            That is NOT insulation as it is done in colder countries in the Northern Hemisphere.

            So they are still freezing, just may not quite so bad as before.

            P.S.: Sorry, I saw too late 2002. But in all honesty, the newly installed insulation in state homes now is not delivering all that much in “warming” homes. I have seen and felt it.

            • geoff 4.4.1.1.1.1

              Funny you mention insulation of state houses because that was what I was involved with. Studying the effects of the upgrade on the thermal performance of the houses. As you say it was a joke. Essentially it was a hot water cylinder wrap, some batts on top of the existing insulfluff in the ceiling and some of them got foil under the floor.
              The results were, as you’d expect, underwhelming. From memory I believe temperatures in the rooms monitored increased by about 1 deg at most.

    • jaymam 4.5

      The price should not be secret. Last time I heard, many years ago, Tiwai paid about 3 cents per unit. I pay about 26 cents per unit to Meridian. Transmission costs are extra.

  5. Jenny 5

    For the Greens less is more

    As Russel Norman barely manages to state the obvious.

    Green party co-leader Russel Norman said today: “Rio Tinto are using the Government’s asset sale programme to screw Meridian Energy for a better deal [on power prices], that is as plain as day.”

    If the smelter closed, the Government would get a much lower price if it went ahead and sold state owned power companies, weakening the Government’s negotiating position, Norman said.

    Positioning themselves as a “safe pair of hands”, “good for business”, Russel Norman’s statement on behalf of the Green Party, was in comparison, to David Parker’s statement above. What, we have come to expect from the Green Party of late, pathetic but “pragmatic” (read unprincipled).

    We obviously can’t expect the Green Party to be a strong voice in parliament for the environment.

    Nothing here about the benefits to the environment. No mention of the possibilities of fighting climate change. Instead of supporting and bolstering David Parker’s statement. Russel Norman’s statement is like a lead weight dragging it down.

    Opposition Parties on corporate welfare for Sumitomo and Rio Tinto

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      I disagree. Russel Norman put it in terms that can easily be related to National and what they said about not selling if they couldn’t get a good price and it’s becoming obvious that they won’t get a good price – unless they game the market with our money and when they do that we’ll lose no matter what.

      • Jenny 5.1.1

        Moulding their argument to appeal to National is a good thing?

        What’s your point?

        The Nacts won’t listen to Green Party waffel about getting a better price.

        All the Greens will do is dispirit and disempower their supporters.

        Privatisation is not about getting a good price. It is an idealogically driven belief that the private sector can do it better.

        The Greens quibbling over the price the government can get shows that they have seriously lost their way.

        • handle 5.1.1.1

          I would back Russel Norman over your whining any day, Jenny.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.2

          The Nacts won’t listen to Green Party waffel about getting a better price.

          The Nats won’t – they’re selling on ideology after all – but the rest of the country will as they see the contortions National has to do to justify the sales and by framing it in the same language that National uses will highlight those contortions.

          • Arfamo 5.1.1.2.1

            Very good point, and that’s what they’re doing I believe. (Nice to see edit function back and working again-good work)

          • QoT 5.1.1.2.2

            And seriously, God forbid that the party which is actually most *hurt* by being cast as a bunch of tree-hugging square-dancers prove that their policies are economically good as well as environmentally focused.

            • Jenny 5.1.1.2.2.1

              What a joke

              Moving straight from tree hugging morris dancers, passing through the serious environmentalist stage, to become line dancing Texans. Just as farcical, but not as funny.

              Still waiting for these neo-Texans to prioritise the fight against climate change.

              Still a no go policy area for 2014, QoT?

              http://www.janbrett.com/piggybacks/deep_tex.mid

              • QoT

                Jenny, you’ve consistently failed to provide evidence of the conspiracy you assert, i.e. that the Green Party are deliberately downplaying / ignoring / suppressing climate change.

                As someone who follows the Green Party’s press releases, blogs and various MPs’ Twitter accounts, I couldn’t find your posts more farcical if I tried.

                • Jenny

                  It is an absolute fact that addressing climate change is not one of the Green Party’s 3 stated election Planks, or “Principles” as they call them, that the Green Party will be campaigning on in 2014.

                  Do you deny this fact QoT?

                  If you do then you are a liar. As anyone who checks the Green Party website can see for themselves.

                  If left to the Green Party climate change will not be an election issue in 2014*

                  And of course if you don’t campaign on an issue you have no mandate to raise it, either in coalition talks, or in parliament. The Green Party really have to ask themselves what are we trying to get into government for?

                  Fight child hood poverty good

                  Clean rivers good

                  Green jobs good

                  Cut rising CO2 emissions FAIL

                  *(This is why I have been raising the issue of climate change with the Mana Party and despite their crying and pressing need to address the question of poverty among their constituents. I have been getting a hearing. It is possible that despite their treachery, the Green Party will be embarrassed into facing up to climate change in 2014 after all.)

                  • handle

                    People have explained to you for many months the difference between a policy and a campaign plank. If this were my website you would be banned for trolling by now.

                    • Jenny

                      People have explained to you for many months the difference between a policy and a campaign plank

                      handle

                      I challenge you to show me one instance, where anyone has ever tried to make such a ridiculous hair splitting argument.

                      I certainly haven’t seen it.

                      So Handle, maybe you would like to be the first.

                      Let’s all have a good laugh, shall we.

                      First of all try and deny that their 3 principles are what the Green Party intend to fight their 2014 campaign on.

                      Then explain how these are not policy planks.

                      And while you are tying yourself in semantic knots for our amusement. Consider this. This is the same “pragmatic” strategy the Green Party followed in 2011.

                      It may have been barely acceptable then. It is not now.

                  • QoT

                    Jenny, the fact you continue to focus solely on one part of the Green Party’s website, ignoring their media release, blog and individual Twitter accounts, is not exactly lying, but it’s damn close. So you’re in no position to throw stones about people’s honesty.

                    • Jenny

                      Do you, or do you not, acknowledge the fact, that the Green Party refuse to make climate change an election issue?

                    • QoT

                      I don’t acknowledge anything which is a product of your own fantasy. Like I’ve already said, there is plenty of stuff coming out of the Green Party on climate change, and it clearly suits you to ignore it so you can keep puffing yourself up as the One True Crusader against climate change.

                      Yet when climate change topics are actually raised at TS, suddenly you’re nowhere to be seen …

                    • Jenny

                      You mean like now?

                    • Jenny

                      ……there is plenty of stuff coming out of the Green Party on climate change

                      QoT

                      In your opinion.
                      Stuff on “blog and individual twitter accounts“, that I, and the general public are generally unaware of. Do not count.

                      The facts are, that just like the appalling Obama/Romney contest…. Comes 2014 election time….. Climate change,(by general bipartisan agreement) will not be an election issue.

                      I don’t acknowledge anything which is a product of your own fantasy

                      QoT

                      You mean, you “don’t acknowledge” embarrassing facts, that you would rather were kept hidden.

                      But like the elephant in the front room. No matter how much you ignore it, it won’t go away.

                    • Jenny

                      Cat got your pen?

  6. AsleepWhileWalking 6

    I say let the market decide what will happen next. No government intervention and ignore the emotional blackmail.

    Can we really afford to face this threat every five to ten years?

    • That is what market liberals say is an essential part of capitalism after all… if your company isn’t responsive to consumer’s needs, it fails.

  7. Lanthanide 7

    National have a double-whammy on their hands, partially the fault of the opposition.

    If they let the smelter close, there’d be lots of job losses that the opposition would crow about more.

    • Jenny 7.1

      As if National care about job losses

      • geoff 7.1.1

        Exactly, Jenny.
        Not only that, I’ve heard that Tiwai smelter jobs are almost 100% subsidised when you take into account all their special treatment and cost to the environment.

    • geoff 7.2

      Here you go:

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10605697

      Excerpt:

      The cost of government protection of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto from carbon and electricity charges means taxpayers will pay the equivalent of $225,000 for each job at the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, says a carbon expert.

      “It would be cheaper for the New Zealand taxpayer to pay every single Tiwai Point worker and contractor $200,000 per annum for the rest of their lives to simply stay home,” said Kent Duston of Wellington-based Autonomic Consulting.

      Crony capitalism (as if there was any other sort…)

      • Lanthanide 7.2.1

        But if Labour were in government I’m sure they’d also be subsidising Tiwai point, because the negative PR would be too much to stomach.

        • geoff 7.2.1.1

          I’m no Labour party apologist but if we’re going to imagine hypothetical situations then you’d at least have to recognise that Labour probably wouldn’t have tried to flog off the power companies and therefore they wouldn’t have put themselves in a position where they had to subsidise the smelter to protect the asset sale price.

          I think the main point is that crony capitalism is stupid and destructive regardless of which political party pursues it.

        • Draco T Bastard 7.2.1.2

          And that would be another reason to dump Labour.

      • dumrse 7.2.2

        A carbon expert. God give me strength.

  8. Morrissey 8

    Can you imagine the sustained campaign of outrage on NewstalkZB, in the Herald and all the rest of the National Party’s semi-official outlets if it had been a Labour government that had been bullied into these deals?

    • Jenny 8.1

      No. The media would either be silent, or commending Labour for being responsible managers.

      To the MSM, Corporate welfare makes perfect sense. While slamming low paid and jobless and beneficiaries as bludgers with banner headlines is seen as a public service.

      No doubt the Corporate Media will also be arguing for working people to wait longer for their pensions so that Rio Tinto profits can continue to be subsidised.

  9. ianmac 9

    The Meridian CEO said on TV News that the “gap was too wide to bridge.”
    Tony Ryall said on TV that “the gap was just tiny and the Government would fill that tiny gap.”

    It will probably be just a tiny 4-5cents a unit. Just a tiny amount 4-5 cents. But it will total many $millions of taxpayer money. But who would miss 4-5 cents?

    • freedom 9.1

      4-5c a unit eventually to be added onto our power bills no doubt, as well as whatever millions in savings they eventually strongarm from the Government.

      • Jenny 9.1.1

        Not to mention the huge costs accruing from climate damaging coal fired power generation that could be done away with if Tiwai was closed.

        • KJT 9.1.1.1

          More artificial propping up of power prices and profits to try and pretend that privatisation is successful.

          I suspect more jobs would acrue from the savings to businesses, and consumers, overall, from cheaper power, than we will lose in jobs in Southland. Not to mention the savings in oil imports and emissions.

          • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1.1.1

            I suspect more jobs would acrue from the savings to businesses, and consumers, overall, from cheaper power, than we will lose in jobs in Southland. Not to mention the savings in oil imports and emissions.

            QFT

            The government propping up Rio Tinto will cost us far more than we would lose if the smelter closed.

          • McFlock 9.1.1.1.2

            Possibly, But at what point do we stop doing the math like that? Should we get rid of trade barriers too, on the grounds that manufacturers might lose their jobs but overall we’d be better off?

            If a government, as a matter of policy, wants to create a massive unemployment spike in southland, then the government needs to address that issue in southland. Not say that other people are better off so in the greater picture it’s alright.

            • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1.1.2.1

              Should we get rid of trade barriers too, on the grounds that manufacturers might lose their jobs but overall we’d be better off?

              No but we should reign in the movement of money.

              If a government, as a matter of policy, wants to create a massive unemployment spike in southland, then the government needs to address that issue in southland. Not say that other people are better off so in the greater picture it’s alright.

              Not saying that other people will be better off – saying that the country will be better off and because of that we’ll be better able to help the people of Southland that have temporarily been made worse off.

              • McFlock

                Sounds like a lot of promises and cheap wine to me.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Things change but it’s not really a concern when the full community is backing you. Unfortunately, the last three decades have seen the community, through government policy, back away from supporting people and moving to only supporting the rich and foreign multi-national corporations.

                  • McFlock

                    and the chances of southland ending up with no smelter and no replacement support have the best odds, in my book.

    • Jenny 9.2

      The Meridian CEO said on TV News that the “gap was too wide to bridge.”
      Tony Ryall said on TV that “the gap was just tiny and the Government would fill that tiny gap.”

      ianmac

      No income gap of the rich and powerful is seen as too big to fill, for this government.

      Just look at the $100 million they gifted Roger Kerr to cover his losses in South Canterbury Finance.

  10. big bruv 10

    “First they got down on their knees for a massive American movie studio and negotiated away oodles of taxpayer dollars and our employment law for movies that were always going to be made in New Zealand”

    Leaving aside the blatant lies in that statement I would have thought that the real victory for Key and the right was that they managed to hammer another nail into the corrupt union movement.
    Let’s face it, the unions have been “owned” during the term of this government. While Key might be a bit left wing for my liking he has at least managed to do terminal damage to the union movement in NZ.

    That can only be a good thing.

    • North 10.1

      Pathological fringe ranting from bellicose big bruv. Risible !

    • Jenny 10.3

      While Key might be a bit left wing for my liking he has at least managed to do terminal damage to the union movement in NZ.

      That can only be a good thing.

      big bruv

      Only if you think poverty is a good thing.

      • Jenny 10.3.1

        The challenge for the modern union movement is to negotiate the transition away from a fossil fuel economy on the best possible terms for their members, to a more job and labour intensive and sustainable economy, better for their members and world.

        This is the challenge of Tiwai

        Can they do it?

        • KJT 10.3.1.1

          As they laid down and died over the employment contracts act, I wouldn’t hold out any hope.

          Losing the right to strike, which you would think ‘principled’ libertarians (Big Bruv Ha Ha) would be concerned about, (Except they’re only concerned about preserving their rights to “private property” once they have stolen it from the rest of us) put the stops on any power the Union movement has to change anything for the better.

        • handle 10.3.1.2

          That, I agree with. Jobs are not all the same. We need smarter ones.

    • geoff 10.4

      Poor big bruv, not enough hugs as a child. That’s ok mate, you keep letting it all out on the blogs.

    • fender 10.5

      Big Bruv once again comes out with dribble that proves he’s really Little Ted.

      There’s terminal damage alright, nothing to be proud of though unless you are a sociopath who loves to see people suffering while a corrupt Govt wreak havoc.

    • Raa 10.6

      If Key is “a bit left wing for my liking”, what would your preferred government look like ?

      • Pascal's bookie 10.6.1

        When Brash took over ACT in the Revenge of the Clowns episode, Bruv was over the moon and predicting they’d get about 15% if I recall correctly.

        So there’s a clue.

    • IrishBill 10.7

      But Bruv – the EPMU wants the government to step in on Tiwai. Key and Ryall are actually helping a union out here.

      • One Tāne Huna 10.7.1

        Oops. Bruv displaying the same intellectual rigour as he did when backing Brash to get 15% 😆

      • Jenny 10.7.2

        EPMU press statement

        http://www.epmu.org.nz/news/show/173453

        “Government must protect Tiwai jobs”

        Instead of fighting for their members interests by calling on the CTU to support a campaign for a decent redundancy and exit package for these workers. The EPMU gives political support to National’s corporate welfare.

        This is in-line with earlier EPMU call for the National Government to bail out Solid Energy.

        I believe this is the wrong call by the EPMU

        In a world threatened by climate change and societal collapse. If the EPMU were to make an honest appraisal of the ultimate future for the fossil fuel industry in this new changed world. They would be better placed to adjudge the value of supporting a fighting programme to make the transition to more sustainable jobs in the best interests of the their members.

  11. Jenny 11

    Can the union movement mount a nationwide response to the challenge of climate change?

    What would this entail?

    First of all, the union movement as a whole would have to make a realistic appraisal that the jobs of their members in the fossil fuel sector are facing almost certain closure. (That is if we want to leave our children with any world worth living in.)

    Secondly, the union movement as a whole would have to back a nationwide solidarity campaign behind getting their members the best exit and retraining packages possible possible for their members to transition to careers outside the fossil fuel industries.

    Thirdly, the gutting of the union movement that ‘big bruv’ refers to makes this task harder. To get the best deal for the workers at Tiwai would require a national wide union response, illegal in current New Zealand industrial law.

    Until these anti union laws are repealed (or possibly, openly defied by union leaders), the union movement will continue to become more and more irrelevant, in every sphere, political industrial and environmental.

  12. RedBaronCV 12

    Well if Rio Tinto are so sure the plant is not viable then why don’t they put it up for sale on Trademe.
    Not willing to do that – then they are just gaming the system.
    Ask Micheal Cullen to deal with them, he’s told them no before, and I’m sure Jeanette Fitzsimmons would help and then we might get a solution that would benefit not just the people working there but the rest of thecountry too and I’m willing to bet at a fraction of the price tag that the Nact’s will spend.

    So, how about it David Shearer and Russell Norman, make use of your elder statepoli’s?

    • alwyn 12.1

      Now you really scare me. Letting Michael Cullen loose would be a complete disaster.
      When you look at the way he through the best part of a billion dollars at Kiwirail, when it was essentially worthless, I can only imagine him negotiating with Rio Tinto going something like this
      RT “We want one billion for the smelter”
      MC ” No, we will offer ten billion”
      RT “two billion then”
      MC “I’m going to cut my offer. nine billion”
      RT “Ok, if you insist”
      MC “There. I got the price down a billion from the starting offer. Who’s the pretty boy then?”

      • Colonial Viper 12.1.1

        KiwiRail essentially worthless at the time Cullen bought it back? You’re speaking from a strictly financial standpoint of course, and not from a real world economy standpoint.

        Given the asset stripping and capital run down Toll inflicted on KiwiRail, it really is the perfect reminder for why we should not privatise core economic infrastructure.

        Thanks for bringing it up.

      • Draco T Bastard 12.1.2

        Kiwirail is essential infrastructure so it doesn’t matter what was paid for it.

        As for you’re imagination, well, I suppose it’s vivid but so very, very wrong. Toll actually wanted a billion and Cullen got them down to $640m.

  13. Wayne 13

    Jenny, well at least your position is clear, even if a little breathtaking.

    The only coal powered station is Huntly. That is going to close in a few years anyway, as more efficient stations come on stream, especially geothermal around Taupo. Even at the thermal end (gas) newer stations are way more efficient. Closing Tiwai would bring Huntly closure forward, but at what price.

    “Corporate leech”; now if you said that about say global banking I could understand that (though not agree with it), but of an industrial company making a commodity we all use in the various things we buy? Sure Rio is hard-nosed, but that is their job – the profitability of their business is at stake.

    And writing off 3000 to 5000 jobs. It would take decades for Southland to recover. Probably 20% of all Southland jobs are connected to the smelter, directly and indirectly.

    As for the Govt, well they have our interest at stake (I know many Standardnistas don’t get that, but you have blinkers on). Of course the Govt knows that Rio will only stay if they can make money, but the Govt will be looking at this from the point of view of the importance of the smelter to the NZ economy, and especially Southland. After all Rio will be taking care of its interest well enough.

    And the Govt has the tough job of working out where the balance lies. At some price point, the balance tips toward letting the smelter go, but that point is not a zero concession from the govt. The smelter is worth something to the NZ economy, especially given that Manupouri was built for the very purpose of the smelter. The NZ input into the aluminum is the electrical energy, and unless there are obviously better users of that energy, then the smelter is a net positive.

    The difficulty we have all got in this thread, is that we don’t know the margin that is being negotiated. But it is highly unlikely to be 5c/kwh. I imagine that the smelter pays less than 10 cents/kwh, given that ordinary consumers pay around 20c/kwh. In fact somewhere in the past I have read 6 to 7c/kwh.

    The price the smelter (a single very large base load user) would pay would be significantly less than any other industrial user. They will also have a special rate with Transpower (only one line involved). So it would seem the amount at issue will be between 1 and 2c/kwh, but that is around 15% of Rio’s power cost, so it is a really big deal for them (and obviously Meridian).

    • Jenny 13.1

      Wayne, Thanks to Geoff @ 7.2, quoting the NZ Herald. We have the figures that exposes your almost reasonable sounding apologist waffle, as mindless, raving, logic defying, dangerous insanity.

      The cost of government protection of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto from carbon and electricity charges means taxpayers will pay the equivalent of $225,000 for each job at the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, says a carbon expert.

      “It would be cheaper for the New Zealand taxpayer to pay every single Tiwai Point worker and contractor $200,000 per annum for the rest of their lives to simply stay home,” said Kent Duston of Wellington-based Autonomic Consulting.

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10605697

      Do these workers get this money?

      No.

      For that $200,000 we could employ at least twice* that many working people at good wages to build the necessary infrastructure to mitigate or even slow climate change. Maybe even saving all our wretched necks. Yours included.

      *(Not to mention all the other downstream jobs that would be created either “directly or indirectly”. Your words.)

      Wayne, what are you? A completely blindly idealogical right wing loony, or a cynical corporate bought and sold spin doctor of the worst type, paid to spin this nonsense.

      Which is it?

      • IrishBill 13.1.1

        I think you’ll find that subsidy figure was based on a much higher carbon price than we have now. But the cost of Tiwai to the taxpayer is still likely to cover off the cost of several thousand well paid jobs.

        Subsidising jobs is fine by me but you’ve got to pick which ones are in the National interest to subsidise (perhaps urgently needed trades and health sector jobs). This kind of ad-hoc subsidisation from National is worse than either a proper planned approach or leaving it to the market.

        Frankly Wayne, this government’s poor management reminds me of the way Muldoon operated but without the spine or the belligerent nous.

        • Don't worry be happy 13.1.1.1

          Yep and Muldoon also had a bit of a hand up from Hollywood…remember the Dancing Cossacks adverts courtesy of Hanna Barbara (?sp) when we had the temerity to think that we should have a national super scheme back then. that was rumoured at the time to have been provided free to the Nats. It was very persuasive. …

          I would not be at all surprised if Key negotiated for himself and his Party some pretty cool SFX TV ads in return for the sweetheart deal Warners and Jackson got? Because I don’t think the Nats are stupid at all. I think that everything they do is working out perfectly for the people they serve (the 1%) and their nasty little brains never stop working….

      • Wayne 13.1.2

        These costs are not the c/kwh which is actually what is being negotiated. A “carbon expert” will have a very particular view of the cost.

        But, hey if Labour wants to close Tiwai point, let them put that case to the NZ public.

        • One Tāne Huna 13.1.2.1

          Nah. They should let Hone force them into it the way ACT twisted Shonky’s arm over public subsidies to private schools after the last election. That’s sarcasm, incidentally. What I really think they should do is tell Rinto Tinto to go get fucked, declare them an enemy of the state and confiscate all their assets. We can still use the aluminium and the profits can stay onshore.

          I know you’ve got a scary story about what you think the consequences would be, Wayne, but I reckon with inequality going the way it is, it’s time to try some genuinely left wing approaches to Tory scum, including you. Have a nice Easter.

      • Wayne 13.1.3

        Well if you want to say the 47% who voted National are dumb, go for it. Probably not the best way to get them to change their point of view.

        • One Tāne Huna 13.1.3.1

          Yeah, because they’re not only dumb, they’re so fucking dumb they can’t tell the difference between an individual opinion based comment on a blog and a party manifesto. Or perhaps you’re the dumb one. Much?

        • freedom 13.1.3.2

          Wayne, you mean 32%, all eligible voters count when talking mandates lil’ buddy
          wow look at that, NZ just got 15% smarter

      • Wayne 13.1.4

        Jenny, Obviously I have a different view to you, but no I do not get paid to think about these things. I simply have an interest in public policy and Govt (hardly surprising given that I was in parliament for 15 years).

        No, the Nats are not “blindly ideological right wing loonys”, which many of the Standardnistas seem to think. If they were, people would not vote for them, and keep supporting them after 5 years in govt. But then I would not call the Labour or the Greens mad left wing nutters either (and neither do I believe that of either of them).

        Actually one of the problems for Labour is the way that too many of the supporters (at least on this site) think that the way to convince New Zealanders to change their view of the Govt is to say the Govt is full of crazies, and that only crazies would support them.

        My experience tells me you don’t make much headway with voters by taking that approach.

        • One Tāne Huna 13.1.4.1

          Yes! Because the comments here are just loopy compared to the considered erudition available at the Sewer.

        • Draco T Bastard 13.1.4.2

          No matter what, I always consider the truth to be the best option and the truth is that this government is not acting in the best interest of NZ but in the best interests of the multi-national conglomerates.

        • Jenny 13.1.4.3

          Jenny, Obviously I have a different view to you, but no I do not get paid to think about these things. I simply have an interest in public policy and Govt

          Wayne

          OK Wayne, fair enough. I will take you at your word and, give you the benefit of the doubt.

          What is your opinion on climate change?

          Do you think that closing Tiwai Aluminium Smelter might let us get the jump on transitioning away from reliance on coal fired Huntly?

          Do you think humanity’s future is threatened by climate change?

          If you do agree.

          Don’t you think that this is probably the most pressing global crisis that has ever faced any New Zealand government Left or Right since the rise of fascism?

          Give me your honest opinion, on your grandchildren’s lives.

          • Jenny 13.1.4.3.1

            That’s seen off Wayne, I suppose. Just like question time in the house. Just ask a National MP to answer a tough set of questions, to see them hide behind the Speaker’s skirts like frightened children.

          • Wayne 13.1.4.3.2

            Yes I do accept that climate change is occurring, and that CO2 emissions should be reduced. And you need to take a global approach.

            So Tiwai is powered by hydro power, means no CO2 from there. Ok it means Huntly stays in service a bit longer, maybe 5 years or so before new generation makes it uneconomic.

            But as everyone notes on this site China can produce aluminum at a competitive price. But in China electric power is mostly from coal stations. So closing Tiwai means more aluminum produced using electricity from coal stations. Therefore more global CO2.

            On a climate change argument, better to keep Tiwai open.

            • Jenny 13.1.4.3.2.1

              You don’t get off that easy Wayne

              Supplementary question:

              Would you bet your Grandchildren’s future on it?

              New Zealand produces 0.2% of green house gas emissions from all sources.

              You are right Wayne in that New Zealand’s contribution on a purely quantitive comparison is nothing and would make no difference

              But as Professor Sir Peter Gluckman chief science advisor to the government says; New Zealand’s greatest contribution to solving global climate change will be by setting an example.

              This is our chance to remove all coal fired electricity from the nation’s grid proving to the world, that with the right political will it can be done.

              If it can be done here it can be done anywhere.

              Does the member want to give up this chance to strike a real blow against climate change?

              • Wayne

                I imagine the time difference in Huntly closing is 5 years, so in any event coal generation will be a thing of the past soon enough.

                So on that basis it is worth seeking a deal that keeps Tiwai going, given the impact of closure on the economy, but of course it depends on the deal.

                And don’t forget Tiwai is the Green option in so far as aluminum smelting is concerned.

                And I think I have said enough on this topic!

              • infused

                Setting an example and destroy our economy. Only the left would think of that.

                Get China in on the deal, otherwise no.

              • SHG (not Colonial Viper)

                New Zealand’s greatest contribution to solving global climate change will be by setting an example.

                A really useful example too, if you happen to live in a country with no mountains and lots of coal.

            • IrishBill 13.1.4.3.2.2

              Wayne, there’s a new gas turbine peaking plant recently opened in Taranki and there are three more on their way. The problem isn’t that we’re using too much electricity it’s that we’re using too much of it at peak times and those peaks are getting bigger. That’s why the gas turbine stations are being built – because they can be turned up and down to match these peaks.

              The only renewable that can do that is hydro. The hydro electricity from from Tiwai would be a direct replacement for gas, coal, and diesel (yes we still have a little of that turned on when things get tight). That means much lower emissions and avoiding using a big chunk of really, really, expensive fossil fuel kilowatts.

              In fact, I think that’s what a few people have missed – the electricity that tiwai sucks up is the kind of peaking electricity that is very valuable. It’s not eight cents a kilowatt baseload stuff, and using it to run aluminium potlines is like using jet fuel to run a boiler.

              Disclaimer (which should probably have been up in the original post): I worked on the potline at Tiwai point a long time ago (and the pay was very good).

              • Jenny

                Good for you Bill. Spoken like a true working man with insider knowledge and principles to boot.

        • geoff 13.1.4.4

          Wayne says… Govt is full of crazies, and that only crazies would support them.

          Depends on your definition of crazy. We’re not talking ‘throwing cats at people’ crazy. We’re talking about the kind of crazy where you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. We’ve essentially been doing the same dumb things over and over again since Rogernomics first mind-fucked the country. By that criteria then you can say the government is full of crazies.

        • Puddleglum 13.1.4.5

          Hi Wayne,

          You say that it is incorrect to characterise the current ‘Nats’ as “blindly idelogical right wing looneys“.

          Do you, nevertheless, accept Colin James’ suggestion that,

          Ministers are privately saying they are achieving substantial right-leaning economic reform bit by bit without, so far, scaring voters.“?

          If you accept that, then it strongly implies that an incrementally radical right wing set of reforms is underway but is being managed well enough to give the impression of non-ideological centrism.

          If you don’t agree with Colin James’ assessment – and note it is couched as Ministers actually saying this themselves – then what makes you think that, in reality, this government is not simply introducing an ideological formula under the guise of pragmatism?

  14. BM 14

    According to this:

    NZAS contributes $525 million to the Southland economy (10.5 per cent of Southland’s GDP), 3,200 full time equivalent jobs and $1,600 million in Southland regional sales. Export revenue is around $1 billion each year.
    http://www.nzaluminium.co.nz/

    Looking at the big picture,
    If it costs the country 25million, I think it’s a reasonable trade off.

    • Chris73 14.1

      Thats because you’ve obviously been brainwashed to believe facts and data instead emotion and hyperbole

      Typical

      • geoff 14.1.1

        Sure, just look at half the story, the side that suits you. Just forget about externalities like the fact that the carbon emissions of Tiwai Point mean that the annual cost of retaining each job at the smelter is $225,000.
        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10605697

        We get it, you guys like cronyism.

        Typical.

        • Chris73 14.1.1.1

          Carbon emission trading scheme is something that both Labour and National should hang their heads in shame over

        • BM 14.1.1.2

          That’s from 2009.

          The whole carbon market has collapsed, the numbers quoted in that article are woefully out of date.

          • IrishBill 14.1.1.2.1

            Yes but the carbon market will recover and, given the average wage at Tiwai is around $80,000pa there’s still a lot of well paid jobs worth of subsidisation going on. Also since 2009 the government has extended emissions subsidies to large polluters such as Tiwai.

            I think it would be easy enough to let Tiwai go and earmark the taxpayer gains from doing so into a large sills and economic development package for Southland. It’s worth noting that BERL has recently worked up some analysis of how green growth strategy in Southland could pay economic dividends: http://www.wwf.org.nz/media_centre/publications/?9321/A-View-to-the-South

            I’m finding it darkly amusing that the right are here arguing for ad hoc job subsidies rather than a market response. I doubt very much these arguments would be being made if the asset sale agenda wasn’t endangered by such a response.

            • One Tāne Huna 14.1.1.2.1.1

              That’s because their so-called political “philosophy” is utter garbage and they’ve no ethics to fall back on, Irish.

            • infused 14.1.1.2.1.2

              Carbon market is a piece of shit. Whoever came up with this bullshit should be shot. I can’t believe you/labour actually support this coverup of a tax which does absolutely nothing apart from line peoples pockets.

              • Colonial Viper

                English and Key are the masters of stealth taxes. Ciggies, petrol, car parks etc.

                • infused

                  They aren’t trying to sell that as some ‘green’ tax though are they?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    I see you don’t deny that they are stealth tax experts though? Expect more as they get more desperate at their inability to generate economic ‘growth’.

                    • infused

                      It was originally designed by Labour. What are you smoking?

                    • felix

                      Yep, as a compromise.

                      Labour wanted a straight tax on carbon but National kicked up such a stink over it (You do remember Shane Ardern driving his tractor up the steps of parliament don’t you?) that Labour couldn’t get it through the house.

                      The result was a more market-oriented solution: the ETS. But it wasn’t Labour’s first choice and it wasn’t the Greens’ either.

                      Btw do you see National scrapping it?

                    • infused

                      One can only hope.

                    • felix

                      Not going to happen, infused. The Nats love artificial market mechanisms.

                      You lot should’ve got behind the tax right at the start and let National know how you felt about their silly posturing. Bit late to complain about it now.

              • geoff

                Yes agreed, the carbon market is stupid. What should really occur is the elimination of emissions. I’m sure you agree.

              • One Tāne Huna

                “Whoever came up with this garbage should be shot”.

                That would be the people that rejected a direct carbon tax as a solution.

                Peter Dunne and Winston Peters.

          • geoff 14.1.1.2.2

            Hah, yeah and since 2009 the threat of climate change has only diminished, right? If anything the actual cost of those emissions is rising every year.

      • Draco T Bastard 14.1.2

        No, he, like you, has been trained to ignore facts that don’t suit him.

    • freedom 14.2

      NZAS are 79.36 % owned by Pacific Aluminium, who are a new Rio Tinto business unit formed in 2011, and the other 20.64% are in the hands of the Sumitomo Chemical Company. ( i can read blurbs too)

      None of these are a New Zealand business, so who gets this billion bucks of export earnings you took from the PR blurb ? Not us.

      I would also dispute the 1.6 billion in Southland regional sales they reference. What does that even mean? ‘We added a whole lot of meaningless accounting tricks and overvalued projected earnings then created a number that sounds like we are making lots of money for NZ’ Sure if the Smelter was owned by a New Zealand Company it might have been a good few years for us but with too many years of cheap power out the sluice-gate and the inevitable profit driven demise of even more Kiwi jobs on the horizon, forgive me for not wanting NZ to continue to subsidise a business that had a revenue of US$ 50.967 billion in 2012 whilst real domestic power prices have effectively doubled in the past ten years.

      Rio Tinto made over 3 billion $USD in profit last year, they do not need our support to stay alive,
      but their greed may well jeopardize the lives of numerous New Zealanders unable to heat their homes

    • Draco T Bastard 14.3

      If it costs the country 25million, I think it’s a reasonable trade off.

      Sure, if that was all it was but it won’t be. It’ll probably also be ~$100/household/year on the power bill forever. With something like 1.5m households that’s a $150m per year.

    • Karen 14.4

      Wayne, if you’re talking about the ‘big picture’ why doesn’t this government take this line in other situations e.g. why was the contract to build the Kiwirail wagons awarded to China instead of the the Hillside Workshop in Dunedin – think of all the taxpayer money that would have stayed in the NZ economy, not to mention potential opportunities to get other overseas contracts, increased employment and training opportunities etc, etc.

      • Wayne 14.4.1

        As I said, it all depends on the price point. The wagons from Hillside were 33% more expensive. If the Govt contribution to the power price (really keeping Meridians profit up) is too high then I guess Tiwai would close.

        But the Govt will be factoring in the cost of loosing a big chunk of the Southland economy in that calculation. Closing Tiwai has a much bigger impact than downsizing Hillside, with fewer alternatives for the workers in Southland than Dunedin.

        Clearly for Standardnistas jobs at Hillside are more important than jobs in Southland.

        • One Tāne Huna 14.4.1.1

          Excuse me? Obviously Hillside should be supported. Obviously Rio Tinto should be given a really good hiding for trying to throw their weight around. Their property in NZ should be forfeit as a suitable punishment, just for starters. Then we’ll see if it’s worth keeping the smelter jobs.

        • freedom 14.4.1.2

          “Clearly for Standardnistas jobs at Hillside are more important than jobs in Southland.”
          step right up folks, Top of the line Planet Key logic boards at work

        • Karen 14.4.1.3

          “Clearly for Standardnistas jobs at the Hillside are more important than jobs in Southland.”

          That’s a silly comment – you could just as well turn that around and say that clearly for this government, jobs in Southland are more important than jobs in Otago. My point is that if you’re going to talk about the ‘big picture’ then surely this should apply right across the board – you can’t just be selective and suddenly be concerned about job losses just because the the potential closure of Tiwai is threatening the asset sales programme. I’m sure most people (not just ‘Standardnistas”) who give a moment’s thought to these issues can see it for what it is – pure hypocrisy.

          • Wayne 14.4.1.3.1

            Well actually you do have to compare them. On the face of it the Hillside jobs cost more to keep going than the Tiwai jobs, but it will depend on the deal.

            • IrishBill 14.4.1.3.1.1

              Yeah, but I don’t think that National are doing those calculations. Nor are they doing calculations about other ways that money could be spent to drive growth in other regions or other industries (and once again I’ll point out that Berl has done some good work on green growth options for Southland that have been ignored by this government).

              The calculations National are doing are political and are about their key policy being endangered. I have no doubt that they would kiss the Smelter goodbye if wasn’t going to tank their Mighty River float.

              Similarly it appears they didn’t do any real due diligence on the Hobbit deal. Indeed they can’t even offer a decent estimate of direct and downstream jobs produced now, despite the first film having been in cinemas for months.

              It’s a haphazard way to do economic development, Wayne.

              • felix

                I don’t think Wayne (among other kiwis) realise that Key is on record saying the assets will be sold regardless of how much or how little they get for them, simply because selling them is the right thing to do.

              • KJT

                Notice that they count all the downstream jobs dependent on the smelter, but for Hillside they only allowed for direct jobs, in the published costings. Hypocrisy much!

                That is typical RWNJ though, to focus on profit and loss in one industry and ignore the larger picture/external costs over the entire country.

            • Draco T Bastard 14.4.1.3.1.2

              On the face of it the Hillside jobs cost more to keep going than the Tiwai jobs…

              BS. The simple fact of the matter is that the extra costs inflicted upon the populace that keeping Tiwai open will do would probably have kept the Kiwirail yards open and building the rolling stock with change left over.

    • lprent 14.5

      Export revenue is around $1 billion each year.

      Irrelevant – what is the taxable profit in this country?

      I’d have to dig into the accounts. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was nothing to minimal. It was last time I looked at it.

  15. muzza 15

    IB is more *economic* in his words than I would have been.

    This is yet another *known outcome*, *planned move*, call it what you like.

    These are not the *worst negotiations ever*!

    This is the most corrupted government ever, and that’s saying somehing, the history is fierce

    • Jenny 15.1

      Looking at the big picture,
      If it costs the country 25million, I think it’s a reasonable trade off.

      BM

      More simplistic rubbish from another apologist for corporate welfare.

      No doubt this right wing idiot would strongly object to the government spending money on “job creation”. If it meant jobs that involved saving the environment rather than lining the pockets of a multinational corporation.

      Looking at the really big picture. Unless we do something. The planet will be completely uninhabitable over much of it’s surface by the middle of the next century. Closing Tiwa is an opportunity for us to take the first step to avoid that calamity.

      To the workers of Tiwai it will be an immediate loss. No doubt of that. But to them I dare to paraphrase US President Kennedy.

      Ask not what your country can do for you But what you can do for your country.

      Ask yourselves wouldn’t it be more worthwhile spending your working lives being paid to make the world a better place, than in a polluting dangerous dirty job that is making things worse.

      Stop corporate welfare!

      Shut down the Tiwai Aluminium Smelter!

      Subsidise sustainable jobs instead!

      Protect the workers!

      Protect the planet!

  16. Mighty River Power has NOT YET BEEN SOLD!

    How about we focus right now on STOPPING the sale of Mighty River Power – through building the BOYCOTT of Mighty River Power shares, plus building the BOYCOTT of Mercury Energy (100% owned by Mighty River Power), in order to help force down the price of Mighty River Power?

    BOYCOTT A4 and smaller A6 (4 per A4 page) posters are now available HERE:

    http://www.switchoffmercuryenergy.org/?cat=2

    BOYCOTT Mighty River Power posters are going up all over Auckland – be GREAT to get photos of these posters going up all over New Zealand!

    Can YOU help?

    Cheers!

    Penny Bright
    A Spokesperson for the Switch Off Mercury Energy group

    [lprent: Excessive capitals. I gave some help with that. ]

    • Chris73 16.1

      How about we focus right now on STOPPING the sale of Mighty River Power

      – How about we don’t

      National have a mandate because before the election they said they’d do it and they still managed to form a coalition government

      The people of NZ want National in power so stop being undemocratic and let National do what it said it wouldcdo

      Don’t like it then give the people of NZ a realistic option at the next election

      • geoff 16.1.1

        You’re the one who’s being undemocratic, chris73. Don’t conflate National winning an election against a weak opponent with having a mandate to sell assets. You may be good at parroting National’s spin but you are not good at being honest.

        • Chris73 16.1.1.1

          National said no asset sales in the first term, National said they’d partially sell assets if they won power a second, National won power a second, National are now trying to do what they said they’d do, thats as honest and upfront as a you’re ever going to get a political party

          Ok I understand, you don’t like what they’re trying to do thats fine, you want to hold a protest and thats fine as well BUT no matter you say National have a mandate to do this

          and if Labour don’t sort their shit out National will do more after the next election, the solution is in lefties hands

          • freedom 16.1.1.1.1

            yeah but it’s National, they never kept an election promise in their life. Why start now ? 😀

            • Chris73 16.1.1.1.1.1

              You mean like where they said they wouldn’t sell assets during their first and they didn’t or when they said they’d partially sell assets during their second term and are now trying to? 🙂

              • freedom

                I always thought you were simply argumentative for the sake of it but in reality you are actually quite thick aren’t you ?

                • Chris73

                  Is that a question or a statement?

                  • freedom

                    Asking for this statement that it is a rhetorical question, only highlights your inane ability to shoot your own foot (and your inability to withdraw with dignity intact) Why must you insist on the last word, especially when the previous ones were so innocuous?

                    like yesterday when it took an hour and a half for you to come up with “How many searches do you think everyone else has done ” which we are guessing is a question as there was no punctuation, yet you seem so concerned with comprehension.

                    • Chris73

                      I know it must seem odd to you but I’m not always on this site so sometimes there are big delays to my replies.

                      But hey its nothing to get worked up about 🙂

              • fender

                That’s as sensible as hanging out the washing now that it’s raining just because earlier when it wasn’t I said I would.

          • Draco T Bastard 16.1.1.1.2

            National have a mandate to do this

            No, they don’t. This has been pointed out to you numerous times.

            • Chris73 16.1.1.1.2.1

              Simply saying they don’t is not an answer

              • One Tāne Huna

                Then why don’t you have a look through previous threads, or better yet, use that wizened thing you call a “memory”? Then the “pointed out numerous times” part might kick in and you wouldn’t look like such a parrot.

                • Chris73

                  My point is just because you’re opposed to the partial privatization of some state assets and that you think National don’t have a mandate doesn’t in fact mean National don’t have a mandate, its just your opinion

                  Just like in my opinion National do have a mandate, doesn’t mean they do just because I say they do

                  However in this instance the sales going to go ahead no matter what you and the other lefties say or do about it

                  • One Tāne Huna

                    Yes, and again, as has been pointed out repeatedly, such sale makes no sense, not least because it constitutes appalling financial management. Opinion is one thing; denying Mathematics is another thing entirely.

                    That little cheerleader uniform you’re wearing doesn’t hide the ugly truth.

                    • geoff

                      What Chris73 is clinging to is some narrow dictionary definition of a mandate. Basically that a political party implements a policy that it announced before winning an election.

                      But that’s not enough for Chris73. He doesn’t want people to excercise their democratic right to oppose unpopular policy by referendum. He is against democracy and he is for cronyism.

        • felix 16.1.1.2

          I’m with Chris73 (who acualy is Dolan) here.

          National said very clearly that they would do this. Labour (again very clearly) campaigned against it and for whatever reason not enough people were convinced to put them in govt.

          That’s all there is to it. Argue over the precise definition of the word “mandate” all you like, but that’s where we are and that’s how we got here.

          Me, I think it’s fucked and I’m disappointed in the voters of NZ for voting for this shit and also in the Labour Party for not giving them something better.

          But ignoring what actually happened isn’t going to help fix anything.

          • Chris73 16.1.1.2.1

            Well whats not in dispute is during the next campaign Labour can tell NZ exactly why think the sales are a bad idea and let the voters decide who they believe

            Although I can’t understand why Labour don’t just announce they’ll buy back all the shares if they get back in power if they’re so against it

            Or is it like ax the tax where they don’t want National to do it but wouldn’t change it if they had gotten into power

            • felix 16.1.1.2.1.1

              I don’t know why they won’t do that either.

              So long as it doesn’t cost us anything to buy them back that is.

              • Chris73

                Off topic but do you watch QI? If you do look up nickfromfulham hes posted pretty much every QI, never mind the buzzcocks…basically everything funny

            • One Tāne Huna 16.1.1.2.1.2

              Nah. Return the property to its rightful owners, and compensate the owners for the original theft.

              In practice therefore, anyone found in possession of the stolen property would receive a fine, with jail sentences for more active enablers.

              But really this needs to be part of a wider investigation into the National Party and its clients. What exactly are their connections with money laundering operations such as Sky City, for example?

              • Chris73

                Ok but should we start with David Shearer first? I mean there are questions about the money…why keep it in the USA when you get more interest in a kiwi bank, who put the money there…

                Its going to be a right rollicking election campaign 🙂

                • One Tāne Huna

                  Yeah, look into that too, just so long as the National Party’s “policy for sale to whoever can launder the most money” comes under maximum scrutiny.

                • felix

                  Yeah, David Shearer and his enormous international money laundering operation.

                  Oh sorry, did I say “international money laundering operation”? I meant “bank account”.

                  But by all means, please make that an issue. I think it would be good to get the public interested in opening up all the bank accounts and holdings and trusts and business interests of all politicians and their families.

                  Go go go.

                  • Chris73

                    I think it would be good to get the public interested in opening up all the bank accounts and holdings and trusts and business interests of all politicians and their families.

                    – I agree with this, pick off the scab and then make it transparent…wonder who’d suffer the most?

            • geoff 16.1.1.2.1.3

              Although I can’t understand why Labour don’t just announce they’ll buy back all the shares if they get back in power if they’re so against it

              Don’t you actually read this blog?? More than anywhere else on the net, The Standard has endlessly pointed out the deficiencies in the current Labour leadership. Get a fucking clue.

            • Mary 16.1.1.2.1.4

              Labour won’t announce that because Shearer’s mob is bereft of strategic nous.

          • geoff 16.1.1.2.2

            felix: Chris73 isn’t just saying ‘National has a mandate, too bad’, he’s explicitly against the referendum as well.

            The word ‘mandate’ is being used by the tories as though it means they are morally justified in selling the assets. That’s clearly not the case because they are proceeding against the wishes of the majority of the population and against sensible economics.
            The word ‘mandate’ is meaningless in the context of this debate, all it means is they announced the policy prior to winning the election.
            Chris73 is trying to use this word ‘mandate’ to imply that people have to just accept that the sales are inevitable and justified. He’s wrong.

            • Chris73 16.1.1.2.2.1

              They are proceeding against the wishes of the majority of the population

              – Got any proof to back that up?

              • Morrissey

                Got any proof to back that up?

                Poll after poll after poll. Including the National Party’s own privately commissioned polls.

                There are many National Party supporters who are very, very concerned about this regime’s flagrant disregard of overwhelming public opinion.

                • Chris73

                  I don’t believe the majority of NZers don’t want it to happen I believe the majority don’t care and I bet there are many, many labour supporters that’ll buy shares as well

                  • felix

                    Whether they’ll buy shares is totally irrelevant to the question of whether they want them to be sold.

                    If your house burned down you’d go through the ashes and try to salvage anything you could. Doesn’t mean you wanted it to burn down.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Your belief isn’t of any concern – that’s why we’re having a referendum on it.

              • geoff

                What morrissey said.
                Really chris, its as though you live in an opaque bubble and cant apprehend your surroundings. I suppose that explains why you can maintain ridiculous opinions contrary the evidence staring you in the face.
                Lets call you bubble boy from now on.

            • felix 16.1.1.2.2.2

              Chris is allowed to be against referenda on anything he likes – many people are. Unfortunately for him there will be a referendum regardless.

              “The word ‘mandate’ is meaningless in the context of this debate, all it means is they announced the policy prior to winning the election.”

              Yep, which means they can and will try to go ahead with the sales. Sucks, but if people cared so much they should’ve voted accordingly.

              • Chris73

                I’d support a binding referendum on this subject if lefties agreed that if it came out in favour of the sales (and it will because who do you thinks a better salesman, Key or Shearer) they’d accept it and try something else (massive public works program, asset buy backs etc etc)

                • felix

                  Off you go then. You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you if you want to get a binding referendum organised.

                  Me, I’m ok with the one we’re already having.

                  • Chris73

                    I just think that any referendum that goes against the left will be ignored and excuses made

                    • felix

                      And if it goes against the govt?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      No, if the referendum went with the Tories we’d accept it. I don’t believe that would be true of the Tories. In fact, the fact that we’re not having a binding referendum on it and that they will ignore the result of the CIR would suggest that they know that the referendum will go against them.

              • geoff

                No I don’t mean he is against the content of the referendum, I mean he is arguing that the referendum is undemocratic. In what mental world does attempting to have a referendum equate to being undemocratic? See his response to Penny Bright’s post above: http://thestandard.org.nz/worst-negotiators-ever/#comment-611445

                • felix

                  I took that to mean he thought it was undemocratic to argue that National don’t have an electoral mandate to sell the assets, which it kinda is, because they kinda do.

                  But arguing against our right to hold a referendum is equally undemocratic, if that’s what he was doing.

    • handle 16.2

      Boycott CAPITALS!

      [lprent: indeed. ]

  17. If we keep the Aluminium smelter open then we are competing with China who has the worlds largest Aluminium smeltering plants and that is crazy. We cannot produce aluminium as cheap as China.

    Close it down.

    • Jenny 17.1

      +1

      In the long term this plant can only compete with China, if the management can impose similiar shockingly low wages and dangerous conditions and long hours. Enforced by state violence and repression as this communist dictatorship.

      Close it down now!

      • Wayne 17.1.1

        Jenny, you can’t actually believe that. If that was true cars would only be made in China, not Germany. There is a bit more to competitiveness than wage rates. In the case of aluminum smelters the key point issue is the cost of power, that is the major input.

        And Manupouri was built specifically for Tiwai, and it has an extremely low cost of generation. But of course there is a high valuation on the station, since it is calculated on the marginal cost of future generation in a new plant. That of course is why power costs what it does in NZ, and if a generator is not building a new station, there are high profits in the meantime.

        • Draco T Bastard 17.1.1.1

          If that was true cars would only be made in China, not Germany.

          So, why aren’t we producing cars in NZ? We have the skills and resources to do so.

          IIRC, it was because we couldn’t compete with Japan but Japan is no longer making as many cars as a proportion of the world market – Korea and now China are moving in to it because they have cheaper Labour.

          As I’ve said before, Comparative Advantage is a load of bollocks and the capitalists are competing in Absolute Advantage terms and using the price of labour to do it. A factory has the same efficiency no matter where it is in the world or its size. All that really happens is that the manufacturing base expands beyond demand which lowers profit (pesky thing that competition) and so the factory gets moved to where labour is cheaper.

          But of course there is a high valuation on the station…

          A value that shouldn’t have anything to do with the price of electricity in NZ as it was paid for through taxes as a Public Good. When we do things like that as a community the cost of producing it meaningless as the return that we were after was the Public Good. Replacement of the plant will be paid for the same way – through taxes.

  18. Pete 18

    I am so pleased they never got around to building one at Aramoana. The smelter has been a boondoggle since day 1.

    • freedom 18.1

      My first ever attendance at a protest action was against the Smelter at Aramoana. Well, second if you count my refusing Holy Communion when I was six, I stated I did not understand what the whole thing meant and what did it have to do with god? The next time I was to partake of the ritual I subsequently witnessed the firm and steadily shaking fist of my loving mother as it was explained that this time I am doing what I am told or there will be serious consequences.

      looking at this deal, I am not sure all that much has really changed

      • fender 18.1.1

        Blasphemy!

        Didn’t you see the weirdos outside Parliament the other night telling all that their imaginary friend was real and that he didn’t want people to marry the people they are in love with!

  19. Chris73 19

    felix …
    29 March 2013 at 7:01 pm

    And if it goes against the govt?

    Most likely I’ll bitch and moan about for a bit, say most people are idiots then accept it and move on (whilst taking whatever crap is thrown at me in good grace)

    • felix 19.1

      Perhaps that was too subtle. I mean what do you expect the govt to do, if not ignore it and make excuses?

      • Chris73 19.1.1

        Not sure to be honest, yes they’ve broken some promises but this is one of their main election promises.

        On the other the anti-smacking referendum was ignored…

        • felix 19.1.1.1

          So you think it’s ok for the govt to ignore the result if it doesn’t go their way, but not ok for some unspecified group called “the left” to do the same?

          Interesting.

          I agree with you that the govt have an electoral mandate (not bothered about the exact definition, it’s a mandate in effect) to sell these assets.

          The referendum will test that mandate. Update it, if you like. Find out what the voters think now.

          If you object to that legitimate democratic process, then it’s about time you stopped claiming that the election provides a mandate. Either they both do or neither does.

          • Chris73 19.1.1.1.1

            Well you asked me what I thought the govt would do, not whether I agree with it.

            I always think the govt of the day should listen to the people first and act accordingly but the anti-smacking referendum (for me anyway) was quite interesting.

            IMHO the anti-smacking referendum was quite a blunt statement to the govt that should have been heeded but it wasn’t.

            I agree with the anti-smacking bill and what its trying to do so the govt was right to go ahead with it but were also wrong to go ahead with it… (gee that sounds a bit screwy)

            and of course the harsher penalties for criminals referendum was ignored so maybe all referendums should be made binding (maybe we could have a referendum on it ;))

            • One Tāne Huna 19.1.1.1.1.1

              “…the harsher penalties for criminals referendum was ignored…”

              No, it wasn’t.

              Harsher treatment is introduced with respect to the more serious forms of offending, while at the same time other elements of the Sentencing Act represent a more rational and moderate approach to sentencing reform.

              Although, since “get tough” policies create more crime (yes, they do), I think the authors of the referendum should have faced prosecution for inciting violence. One of them, of course, got banged up for something else entirely

              • Chris73

                Should have got a bit more than banged up…

                • fender

                  This must be one of those ‘worse than Whaleoil ‘ comments you were moaning about.

                  • Chris73

                    I’m prepared to accept that wanting Graham Capill to get a decent hiding is a bad thing and makes me a bad person

                    • One Tāne Huna

                      But will it make you stop and think the next time you’re going to parrot some blatant falsehood, that maybe a little fact-check is in order?

            • felix 19.1.1.1.1.2

              “IMHO the anti-smacking referendum was quite a blunt statement to the govt”

              That’s the trouble though, it wasn’t blunt at all. It was a twisty turny inside out and backwards statement to the govt.

  20. Andrew Wallace 20

    Rio Tinto, owner of the Tiwai Point smelter, has threatened to close the plant and quit NZ if they don’t get cheaper electricity from Meridian Energy. The world aluminium price is down and Rio Tinto wants to renegotiate it’s contract electricity rate. (Funny that – when my circumstances changed on reaching 65 no one would give me cheaper electricity!).
    For 40 years Tiwai Point has been subsidized by the NZ taxpayer, enjoying electricity rates believed to be about 70% below what everyone else has to pay.
    The smelter consumes 14% of NZ’s power production. Closure of the smelter would release over 600MW to the national grid – lowering power costs nationally to the benefit of the consumer and to business growth.
    Anyone thinking Rio Tinto has the interests of their workers foremost in their mind – think again. Profit is king – ‘world’ 2011 net profit: $14.2 billion.
    If they don’t get what they want they will leave. Why then should NZ subsidize a huge, wealthy, foreign corporation – with a dismal environmental and human-rights record (worldwide), well documented in the 1972 book ‘River of Tears’ by Richard West? Not a pretty history.
    Will Meridian (ie.NZ Government) capitulate to a corporate giant?
    Probably.

  21. xtasy 21

    Well, Meridian’s manager’s negotiating skills may well be lacking, but in all honesty, is this not rather a question of pure blackmailing and attempted extortion by they Tiwai smelter’s owners (Rio Tinto behind it)?

    Naturally this stupid government created the ideal scenario for this, offering the electricity companies for sale to the market. The time for renegotiation of the supply deal with the smelter’s owners must have been well known beforehand, to all involved. Also was it known to the government, that the world economy (and with that demand for aluminium) would be suffering from the GFC for many years!

    So really, it is a total stuff-up by a “drunk with personal success and ambition” John Key and his ministers that always follow him like Blackadder’s lackeys. That has nothing to do with negotiating skills, but all with steering a ship full knowingly into foggy waters, not preparing for any icebergs.

    This exposes brilliantly the standard and quality of “leadership” and “government” that NZers now “enjoy” (well, that is the ones also “drunk” on ideology and economic madness, at top shelf level)!

    Welcome aboard the Titanic, aka the Dictatorship of Aotearoa NZ!

  22. freedom 22

    When your global turnover is over 50 billion USD you do not need the subsidies of a small Pacific nation whose entire GDP is only 160 billion. This is nothing but big business jonesing. Think Big was the pusher and we were all just blockboys. Today though things have changed. There are other corners doing better with more clients and cheaper hits. No longer the best gear in town Tiwai knows anyday could be the last, so better cut what it has as far as it can. This behaviour is the reslut of decades of addiction to our resources. Ask yourselves; if you don’t like seeing pushers in your neighbourhood why the hell do you accept it from the Government ?

  23. Raa 23

    It gets worse.

    A Hollywood ploy to insert DRM into HTML5 …

    http://www.defectivebydesign.org/we-dont-want-the-hollyweb

  24. Ad 24

    Just fully agree with the original post.

    The next 3 weeks, as the Tiwai Point negotiations blow cold hard wind onto the Mighty River Power initial listing price, are just going to be excruciating.

    I hate incompetent politicians who are clearly out of their depth.

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