Archive

Archive for 25 April 2013

Does the Soviet Pravda’s spirit live on as the Dominion Post?

25 April 2013 7 comments

.

The latest  anonymously-penned, propaganda-piece, for the National Party, by the establishment media,

.

Editorial - Key should consider MRP sale delay

.

OPINION: An unholy mess. There is no other way to describe the Government’s partial asset sales programme.

With just days to go before the public offering of shares in Mighty River Power closes, the float is shrouded in uncertainty. Is the country’s single biggest consumer of electricity about to shut its doors? Will Labour and the Green Party be part of the next government and, if so, will they make good on their promises to renationalise the electricity industry by stealth?

Potential investors have no way of knowing whether Rio Tinto is serious about closing the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter unless it can wring further concessions from the Government and Meridian Energy. Likewise, they have no way of knowing whether Labour and the Greens will be in a position to implement their policies after the next election.

But, amid all the uncertainty, there is one certainty: the price the Government and, ultimately the public, will receive for shares sold in Mighty River Power will be lower because of the uncertainty. Immediately after Labour and the Greens announced their plans to establish a new Crown entity to take over the running of the electricity industry, shares in publicly listed Contact Energy dropped almost 10 per cent in value. A similar drop in the value of Mighty River Power would reduce the amount the Government hopes to receive for the 49 per cent of the state generator it is putting up for sale by more than $150 million.

In similar circumstances, a prudent private-sector business owner could be expected to consider the wisdom of proceeding with the sale in such an uncertain environment.

Perhaps John Key and his ministers should do likewise. The Government has a mandate to sell, but it is not a mandate to sell regardless of the price. Suspending the process would be a bitter political pill for Mr Key to swallow. He has made the partial asset sales programme the centrepiece of his second term in government.

However, political considerations should not determine the fate of an asset worth billions of dollars that has been built up by generations of taxpayers. The Government’s overriding concerns should be ensuring that taxpayers get fair value for the business and that as many New Zealanders as possible take advantage of the opportunity to become shareholders in it.

Neither of those goals are likely to be achieved while there is a possibility of the country being flooded with cheap electricity and the next government telling generators how much they can charge for electricity and how they should operate their power stations.

Labour and the Greens’ Stalinist proposals are as unattractive as the free-market ideologies that have produced windfall profits for power companies and ever-rising prices for residential consumers.

But, delaying the sale till after the next election would at least allow voters to choose which of the two approaches offers the better prospect of sensible pricing and secure supply. It would also allow time for the future of Tiwai Point to be resolved.

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media –  Editorial: Key should consider MRP sale delay

Labour and the Greens’ Stalinist proposals are as unattractive as the free-market ideologies that have produced windfall profits for power companies and ever-rising prices for residential consumers.

WHOA!!!  Back up there, fella!! There’s nothing “Stalinist” about this. It’s out for the public to determine and we get to vote on it. Having a single-buyer desk is as “Stalinist” as Zespri, Fonterra, Pharmac, etc.

Every time I hear abject fear-mongering like “stalinism”, I’m wondering what the writer’s  secret agenda is? Have  they no intellectual rigour in promoting a sensible, rational debate?

Is ‘McCarthyism’ the only knee-jerk response that the Right Wing has to Labour-Green’s policy on NZ Power?

This is a shabby way for a supposedly ‘respectable’ newspaper to behave. It is as “Stalinist” as the old totalitarian regimes it complains off.

I’ve put my name to a post on the messageboard immediatly after this so-called “editorial” . Will  the author  of this biased piece of dogma put his/her name to the editorial, I wonder?

The Dominion Post demands that all letter-writers to the paper provide their own name and address to anything submitted.

Funny how the same policy doesn’t apply to the authors of their editorials?

The “editorial” pretends to take a swipe at neo-liberal policies by stating,

Labour and the Greens’ Stalinist proposals are as unattractive as the free-market ideologies that have produced windfall profits for power companies and ever-rising prices for residential consumers.

However, pointedly it offers no constructive alternative solutions.

Why?

Because by condemning Labour-Green proposals for real reform, it undermines the prospect for meaningful change – whilst at the same time, allowing the status quo to remain intact. Every time a proposal to effect meaningful change is derided – but not offering alternatives – the neo-liberal ideologies remain unchallenged.

It is the same technique that the Right used in their campaign against MMP.

It’s a sneaky way to sow doubt in the public mind.

As for claiming,

“The Government has a mandate to sell, but it is not a mandate to sell regardless of the price.”

Bollocks.

It has no such thing.

As has been pointed ad nauseum, more voters voted against the asset sales than for it. Whilst the National-ACT-Peter Dunne Coalition has 61 seats, and Labour, NZ First, Greens, Mana, and Maori Party have 60 seats – the number of Party votes cast tells a different story.

.

National , ACT, United Future Party Votes Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori Party, Mana, and Conservative Party votes

National – 1,058,636

Labour – 614,937

ACT – 23,889

Greens – 247,372

United Future – 13,443

NZ First – 147,544

Maori Party – 31,982

Mana – 24,168

Conservative Party* – 59,237

TOTAL – 1,095,968

Total – 1,125,240

.

* Note:  Whilst the Conservative gained no seats in Parliament (because of the 5% threshold), their numbers are included because they gained over double the electoral-support for ACT.

.

.

= fs =

Advertisements

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Toru)

25 April 2013 14 comments

.

Continued from: Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

.

New Govt procurement rules issued

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – New Govt procurement rules issued

.

As reported by Radio NZ just recently, National has implemented  “new procurement rules [which]  will make it easier for New Zealand companies to win work contracts” by “making  the tendering process across the public service more consistent“.

On Scoop, Minister for Everything, Steven Joyce told the country,

We have consulted widely with the business community, and the message they have been giving us is they want a framework that makes it easier for them to do business with the Government.

Government procurement accounts for around $30 billion each year and comprises a significant portion of our economy. This new framework is user-friendly for companies, transparent, and is in-line with our international trade obligations.

Introducing greater efficiency and transparency into Government procurement will help us deliver on our priority of building a stronger economy and delivering better public services within tight fiscal constraints.”

Acknowledgement: Scoop:  Government streamlines procurement rules

Joyce referred to the process being more transparent.

Transparency is a good thing.

It keep everyone honest and prevents the advent of cronyism.

The question on everyone lips now, is (or should be), does this apply to our Dear Leader, the Prime Minister, Mr John “My Brain is Fading” Key?

Because as we’ve seen in the past, Key’s style of engaging with business has been anything but transparent. In fact, it’s been decidedly murky and dodgy.

In April 2011,

.

Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks

Acknowledgement: TVNZ –  Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks

.

A year later, in April 2012,

.

SkyCity deal was PM's own offer

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald –  SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer

.

Key’s “dinner meeting” with SkyCity’s Board followed on from a revelation that David Fisher wrote in the Herald on 18 April 2012,

SkyCity’s deal over pokies in exchange for a national convention centre comes after three failed court attempts to expand its casino business.

It repeatedly challenged the Gambling Commission over its restrictions – so much that ministers overseeing gambling regulation have been warned about direct lobbying by the casino company.

SkyCity has not filed a court challenge since the National Government came to power in 2008.

Instead, it began negotiating with the Government in 2009 over concessions on gambling rules in exchange for building the $350 million convention centre next to the casino.

It wants an extra 350 to 500 poker machines, more table games such as blackjack or poker and an early extension to its gambling licence.

SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison said the casino wanted to change the law so it could expand.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – SkyCity wooed Govt after court failures

The Auditor General’s report found,

Mr Key was personally briefed on options for the convention centre at a dinner with SkyCity board members and executives on November 4, 2009. At the dinner, Mr Key told them he wanted a bigger and better facility than they were mooting – to “think outside the box”.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – SkyCity ‘treated very differently’ in tender

The Auditor-General added,

“However, we found a range of deficiencies in the advice that the Ministry provided and the steps that officials and Ministers took leading up to that decision.

The quality of support that was provided fell short of what we would have expected from the lead government agency on commercial and procurement matters.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

So if challenges in Court could not achieve SkyCity’s agenda, their “Plan B”  was to invite the Prime Minister to a “dinner” function. What went on at this dinner meeting?

We don’t know.

Only the PM and Board members know.

What we do know is that SkyCity was given preference over other tenderers to build a Convention centre. In turn the law would be amended to provide an extra 350 to 500 pokie machines;  concessions on gambling rules;  and an early extension to its gambling licence – in exchange for building the $350 million convention centre next to the casino.

There is no transparency here, nor at the April 2011 “social event” with MediaWorks’ Brent Impey.

As I wrote lat year; that’s how it’s done. Neat, no fuss, no questions from pesky media – sorted. (Even better if the business party pick up the tab for the evening!)

This year, it was revealed  that Key’s modus operandi  was applied to select the next appointment for the role of GCSB Director, Ian Fletcher,

.

Key met spy candidate for breakfast

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media:  Key met spy candidate for breakfast

.

Another instance of Key meeting someone with whom he had been having State-related dealings with. And as with other occassions, Key insisted that ” the vacancy, as head of the Government Communications Security Bureau, was not discussed”.

Such an assurance is simply not credible, given that, as Fairfax’s Andrea Vance reported,

Three days earlier, Key had signed off on an interview panel for the job, which included then Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Maarten Wevers. Fletcher was the only person to be interviewed for the post, after a shortlist of four other candidates was rejected.

Acknowledgement:  IBID

One has to wonder how many other  meetings Key has had in the last four years where government deals have been stitched together; “understandings” have been made; and under-the-table agreements reached.

Joyce has said,

What Government procurement needs to come down to is who can deliver the best value for taxpayers’ money rather than who is best at dealing with Government officials and this is what these new rules will deliver.”

Indeed.

But does John Key know? And will these new rules apply to him?

.

*

.

Previous related blogposts

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

References

TVNZ:  Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks (8 April 2011)

NZ Herald:  SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer (18 April 2012)

NZ Herald – SkyCity wooed Govt after court failures (18 April 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Key met spy candidate for breakfast (24 April 2013)

Radio NZ:  New Govt procurement rules issued  (24 April 2013)

Scoop:  Government streamlines procurement rules (24 April 2013)

.

.

= fs =

Categories: The Body Politic

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

25 April 2013 35 comments

.

.

Continued from:  Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

Once upon a time, at the bottom of the world, there was a small country that prided itself on being a fair, open, and uncorrupted society.

I’m no longer sure about the last bit.

Last year, Transparency International ranked New Zealand as the #1 least corrupt nation on Earth. We ranked above Denmark (#2), Finland (#3), Sweden  (#4), Singapore (#5),  and  Norway (#6).

I’m no longer certain we deserve that top ranking, either.

The further that the Sky City/Convention Centre and Crafar farm deals are  scrutinised – the stronger the odour of something unpleasant fills our nostrils.

To recap, let’s start with the Crafar farms deal with Shanghai Pengxin.

.

Tahi: Crafar Farms/Shanghai Pengxin/National Government

.

The timetime of the Crafar deal runs something like this,

5 October 2009: Crafar Farms placed into receivership, owing $216 million to creditors.

22 December 2010: Government  blocks  bid by Natural Dairy to buy the 16 Crafar farms on ‘good character’ grounds.

27 January 2011: KordaMentha accepts offer from Shanghai Pengxin International Group Ltd to buy Crafar Farms.

13 April 2011: Shanghai Pengxin lodges application with the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to buy the Crafar farms.

26 September 2011: Crafar farms receiver KordaMentha  rejects a conditional NZ$171.5 million offer for 16 central North Island dairy farms from a group led by controversial former merchant banker Michael Fay.

27 January 2012: Government ministers approve Shanghai Pengxin’s application to purchase 16 Crafar farms.

15 February 2012:  High Court delays sale of Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

20 April 2012:  Government ministers , Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman  approve the Overseas’ Investment Office’s (OIO) new recommendation to allow the sale of the 16 Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

At least, that is the version for public consumption.

Recent revelations indicate that much more was taking place behind the scenes. If we take that timeline and add the revelations that have come out in the last few months, the picture takes on a murkiness and a hint on something decidedly shady,

5 October 2009: Crafar Farms placed into receivership, owing $216 million to creditors.

2 December 2009: KIWI DAIRY CORPORATION LIMITED registered. (Then changes to ORAVIE LIMITED, 20 December 2010. Then changes to ORAVIDA LTD, 20 January 2011. Then changes to ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED, 13 May 2011. ) Shareholders: Jing Huang, Julia Jiyan Xu, and Deyi Shi.  (Source)

11 June 2010:  National Party receives $50,000.00 donation from Susan Chou. (Source)

30 July 2010:  National Party receives $150,000 donation from Susan Chou. (Source)

18 November 2010: MILK NEW ZEALAND CORPORATION LIMITED* registered. Directors: Terry Lee and Jiang Zhaobai. (Source)

22 December 2010: Government  blocks  bid by Natural Dairy to buy the 16 Crafar farms on ‘good character’ grounds.

27 January 2011: KordaMentha accepts offer from Shanghai Pengxin International Group Ltd  to buy Crafar Farms.

31 May 2011: National Party receives $100,000 donation from Susan Chou. (Source)

22 July 2011:  ORAVIDA LTD registered. Shareholders: Jing Huang, Julia Jiyan Xu, and Deyi Shi. (Source)

27 July 2011:  ORAVIDA PROPERTY LTD changes name to  KIWI DAIRY INDUSTRY LTD.  Shareholder: Deyi Shi (Source)

13 April 2011: Shanghai Pengxin lodges application with the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to buy the Crafar farms.

26 September 2011: Crafar farms receiver KordaMentha  rejects a conditional NZ$171.5 million offer for 16 central North Island dairy farms from a group led by controversial former merchant banker Michael Fay.

22 November 2011: National Party receives $50,0000 donation from Citi Financial Group. Shareholders: Yan Yang and Qiang Wei. (Source) (Source)

22 November 2011: National Party receives $1,600 from Oravida NZ. (Source) (Source)

26 November 2011:  NZ General Election

30 November 2011: National Party receives further $55,000 donation  from Oravida NZ. (Source) (Source)

27 January 2012: Government ministers approve Shanghai Pengxin’s application to purchase 16 Crafar farms.

15 February 2012:  High Court delays sale of Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

20 April 2012:  Government ministers , Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman  approve the Overseas’ Investment Office’s (OIO) new recommendation to allow the sale of the 16 Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

*   “Milk New Zealand Holding Limited”  is the official applicant and purchaser of the 16 Crafar farms. It is supposedly a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin,

” Applicant

3. The Applicant is Milk New Zealand Holding Limited (“the Applicant”), a Hong Kong incorporated company which is an overseas person under the Act.

4. The Applicant will register as an overseas company under the New Zealand Companies Act 1993 prior to acquiring the Investment. The Applicant does not have any current interests in New Zealand as at the date of this Application.1

1 The 99% ultimate owner of the Applicant, Zhaobai Jiang, has a [redacted]% interest in a company ([redacted*])that has applied for consent to acquire development land at [redacted] . No decision has yet been made on this application.” – Source

(*Note: Despite OIO redacting the second company, this blogger has  found that it is actually “NATURE PURE LIMITED“.  Terry Lee and Zhaobai Jiang are both listed as Directors.)

Despite numerous company name changes; newly registered companies; and a lengthy trail of shareholders, the one link that does stand out between Shanghai Pengxin and financial donations to the National Party is Terry Lee.

Mr Lee, along with Deyi Shi and  Xing Hong, registered KIWI DAIRY CORPORATION LIMITED on 2 December 2009, which, after several name changes, ended up as ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED  on 13 May 2011. Xing Hong was also a one time Director of ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED and ORAVIDA PROPERTY LIMITED.

Deyi Shi is still a current Director of both  ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED and ORAVIDA PROPERTY LIMITED.

On 22 and 30 November, 2011, the National Government received donations totalling $56,600 from Oravida NZ Ltd.

A further $300,000 was donated to National by Auckland businesswoman, Susan Chou, who, through her husband Zhaowu Shen, had a connection with Jack Chen and NZ Natural Dairy Ltd – the first unsuccessful attempt by Chinese investors to gain control of the Crafar farms.

Two months later, on 27 January 2012, National approved the sale of 16 Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin subsidiary, Milk New Zealand Holding Limited.

Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions from the facts presented.

Continued at:   Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Toru)

.

*

.

Sources & References

OIO:  Decision required under the Overseas Investment Act 2005: Milk New Zealand
Holding Limited

CAFCA:  December 2010 decisions

NZ Companies Office

Elections NZ: Returns of party donations exceeding $30,000

Elections NZ: Returns of party donations exceeding $20,000

Interest.co.nz: Govt Ministers rubber stamp Overseas Investment Office approval of Shanghai Pengxin’s Crafar farms bid

Acknowledgements

Adam Bennett, NZ Herald: Chinese cash flows to Nats

Adam Bennett, NZ Herald: China link to Nats’ $200,000

.

.

= fs =

First blogged 28 April 2012

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

25 April 2013 22 comments

.

.

This Blogger has deduced the new, simplified,  John Key Style of Doing Business.

Phase 1

Meet socially and conduct an ‘informal chat’. This leaves only the barest record of any meeting; nothing said is documented or reported; and plausible deniability exists if things go pear-shaped.

From April, last year,

.

Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks

.

” Published: 8:28PM Friday April 08, 2011 Source: ONE News

The Prime Minister is defending his decision to loan $43 million of taxpayer money to private media companies.

John Key claims the loan scheme was designed to help the whole radio industry.

But a ONE News investigation has revealed MediaWorks was the big winner after some hard lobbying.

Key is known for being media friendly, but he’s facing criticism from Labour that he’s become too cosy with MediaWorks which owns TV3 and half of New Zealand’s radio stations.

It has been revealed the government deferred $43 million in radio licensing fees for MediaWorks after some serious lobbying.

Key and the former head of MediaWorks, Brent Impey, talked at a TV3 Telethon event.

“I just raised it as an issue but we’d been looking at it for sometime. My view was it made sense. It’s a commercial loan, it’s a secured contract,” Key said.

It’s believed the loan is being made at 11% interest.

But in answer to parliamentary written questions, the Prime Minister said he had “no meetings” with representatives of MediaWorks to discuss the deal.

Two days later that answer was corrected, saying he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” in Auckland where the issue was “briefly raised” and he “passed his comments on” to the responsible minister. ” – Source

.

The up-shot of Key “running into Brent Impey at a ‘social event’ in Auckland” was that Mediaworks were offered a $43 million dollar loan, despite being earlier declined by Broadcasting Minister, Steven Joyce.

For full background on this story, see earlier blogpost:  Politics-Free Zone? “Tui” time!

As John Drinnan, the NZ Herald’s business writer and media commentator wrote at the time,

So much for market forces. The future of the radio industry was decided behind closed doors in talks between industry incumbents and a former industry player, and signed off by Cabinet.  ” – Source

Hmmmm…  Now where have we heard this just recently?!

From April, this year,

.

SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer

.

10:20 AM Wednesday Apr 18, 2012

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed he offered a deal to Sky City allowing the casino to have more pokie machines in return for building a multimillion-dollar convention centre. Mr Key, speaking from Indonesia, confirmed he made the offer to Sky City in his capacity as Minister of Tourism, Newstalk ZB reported…

… Mr Key was asked last July in a question for written answer from Green MP Sue Kedgley whether he or any of his ministers had met representatives from the casino to discuss changes to the Gambling Act.

He replied: “I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003″. ” – Source

.

That’s how it’s done. Neat, no fuss, no questions from pesky media – sorted. (Even better if the business party pick up the tab for the evening!)

Phase 2

Promise Big Numbers.  It doesn’t matter if the numbers never eventuate because they were fictitious to start with. By the time the media and public realise the true facts, the issue will be all but forgotten. A week may be a long time in politics – but a year positively guarantees  collective amnesia for 99% of the public.

From December, 2010,

.

Cycleway jobs fall short

.

6:00 AM Wednesday Dec 8, 2010

The national cycleway has so far generated just 215 jobs – well short of Prime Minister John Key’s expectation of 4000.

In May, Mr Key said he expected the $50 million project, which involves building 18 cycleways throughout the country, to generate 4000 jobs.” – Source

.

Who can remember the initial cycleway project and the promise of 4,000 new jobs?

Precisely.

From March, this year,

.

Key defends casino pokie machine deal

.

08:23 Mon Mar 5 2012 – AAP

Opposition parties are accusing the government of selling legislation through an agreement that will see Auckland’s Sky City build a $350 million convention centre in return for more pokie machines…

…  But Mr Key says it’s a good deal for New Zealand.

It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it ” – Source

.

In a year’s time, who will recall the promise of 900 new Convention centre jobs?

Who will care that only a hundred-plus eventuate?

Precisely.

That, my fellow New Zealanders is how John Key Takes Care of Business, in this country. (Dropping to one bent knee and kissing his Don Of Don’s ring, wins extra ‘brownie points’.)

Of course, this isn’t the transparency that John Key promised the country in two recent elections – but considering that National has no other job creation policies they can rely on, they are desperate to clutch at any offer of a business proposal that may create even a handful of jobs (no matter how short-sighted, shady, or ethically dubious).

National’s blind adherence to new right dogma that “governments do not create jobs; only the private sector creates jobs” is not only nonsensical, but traps them in an ideological mindset that does not permit them to consider historical  alternatives. John Key’s – and National’s – dilemma forces them to rely on business, whether it be shady casino deals or selling our productive, revenue-earning farms to overseas investors.

It is a trap of their own making, but we the taxpayer, will end up paying one way or another.

Continued at: Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

.

*

.

Previous Blogposts

Time to bend over again, fellow Kiwis (part # Rua)

Additional

NZ Herald: Pokie deal is a devil’s bargain

.

.

= fs =

First blogged 23 April 2012