Archive for 3 September 2012

A delay to asset sales – thank gods for Te Tiriti!

3 September 2012 2 comments



John Key has said that “no one owns water”.  The inference being that water is collectively the property of all New Zealanders.

That’s a very socialist principle.

In which case, we should be asking  him; does the same apply to state owned enterprises? Maori certainly want to know the answer to this question.

The Waitangi Tribunal’s interim recommendation to National was to delay asset sales until the issue of water rights, share allocations, etc,  could be addressed, and good-faith negotiations undertaken.

Today was D-Day for National and it’s planned asset sales agenda,


Full Story


Basically, it had three options available to it;

  1. Ignore the Waitangi Tribunal’s recommendations to delay asset sales,  and Maori would head straight to Court for litigation. A High Court would most likely injunct National from proceeding with the sale.
  2. Voluntarily postpone asset sales and engage in good-faith negotiation with Maori,
  3. Legislate away any potential Maori water-rights – and the consequence would be a political upheaval similar to what Labour experienced over the Foreshore & Seabeds issue.

Option # 1 would mean little difference to Option #2; both would result in an inevitable delay.

At least Option #2 allowed a measure of good-faith bargaining and maintaining a reasonably relationship with the Maori Party.

Issue #3 was unthinkable. Aside from resulting in mass angry protest from Maori and losing it’s  Maori Party coalition partner,  the resultant social  instability would make the next two and half years a political nightmare for any government.

When Maori Council Co-chair, Maanu Paul, said,

This issue is such a big issue for Maoridom that we had to go all the way in terms of seeking redress and if that means going to the Supreme Court, that’s where we’ll end up.”

… he wasn’t making idle chit-chat. Maori are playing hard-ball on this issue and are not about to fold their hand. They have too many aces, and have little hesitation in playing them.

As it was, National blinked first,


Full Story


We now have breathing space until June next year.

In that time, opposition to asset sales will harden even further and come up with new strategies to fight National’s agenda.

National will have found that, bereft of allies, it’s privatisation agenda will not have become any easier. In fact, it may well face new challenges and barriers to it’s very unpopular policy.

One such  challenge is that it still has only a one-seat majority in the House.

John Key must be praying every night before going to bed that he wakes up the next day with the same number of MPs that he had the previous day.

All it would take is  a scandal; a resignation; and a by-election…

Or a heart attack…

Or a road crash…

A lot can happen in nine months.

Addendum 1


– Monday 3  September


Aotearoa Is Not For Sale is delighted that the Waitangi Tribunal has been successful in its recommendation to the Government that the sale of Mighty River power shares be delayed until iwi claims over water rights and guardianship are negotiated.

This delay is a victory for all those who have worked tirelessly in the campaign against the Government’s policies to sell our state-owned assets under the mixed ownership model, and ANFS will continue to support Tangata Whenua in their struggle to have their rights and responsibilities as kaitiaki recognized and upheld. Respect for te Tiriti o Waitangi is a reminder of the need for the government to protect the rights of Maori and all other New Zealanders, who built these assets together, and who together assert that the government cannot sell them.“When Maori and the agreement they entered into with the Crown in 1840 is undermined, all New Zealanders are undermined. The decision today can therefore be celebrated by everyone,” says Miriam Pierard, ANFS spokesperson. “The Government is clearly reluctant to back down completely on its very unpopular policy, so although we can take heart today, we must remember that we still have a battle ahead of us.”Aotearoa Is Not For Sale will continue to build a national, direct action movement against asset sales, while supporting Maori in their principled negotiation for recognition of water rights as an issue in it’s own right. We will also continue to boycott Mercury Energy as a subsidiary of Mighty River Power and promote the Keep Our Assets petition for a public referendum on the issue.

Aotearoa Is Not For Sale stands for the retention of all SOEs by all New Zealanders. No special deals. No special shares. No special payments. No asset sales means no asset sales at all, to anyone.

We will not be divided like our assets. We will be united, we will not be silenced, we will resist this together.


ANFS Spokesperson
Miriam Pierard

Addendum 2

Winston Peters was “on form” today (3 September) on Radio New Zealand’s “Morning Report“, when he make the pertinent observation that,

“...I think this has now beome a bloody minded push for an ideological outcome, that  has got a number of people behind the National Party arguing for it, against the national interest.”

Listen: Radio NZ – Morning Report interview with Winston Peters

Peters is correct. This has indeed become little more than an exercise in bloody-mindedness.  With public opposition; conflict with Maori; questions as to how much a share float will raise; a loss in revenue for the State; and other questionable aspects to National’s agenda, there seems very little benefit to the country for asset sales.

Even the majority of business-people oppose asset sales on the basis that it would have been cheaper to borrow money from offshore, rather than losing revenue  from fully-owned SOEs.

See: Selling state assets: it’s a crappy commercial decision – The Voice of Business

Key’s final argument for asset sales is that his Party won a mandate at last year’s election.

Once the petition is submitted to the Clerk of the House and a Referendum is held, even that proposition will vanish.

What will Key do when a referendum delivers an over-whelming “No” vote?

What can he do?





Sale of Mighty River Power delayed

Government delays SOE sale

Mighty River sale on hold

Government delays Mighty River Power share float

Mighty River sale to be delayed

RNZ:  Listen to Donna Hall on Morning Report

Scoop/Q+A: Q+A – Shane Taurima Interviews Tony Ryall



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