Archive

Posts Tagged ‘asset sales’

Dunne’s Dumb Deal?

5 December 2011 3 comments

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Full Story

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What Mr Dunne gets:

– No sale of KiwiBank or Radio New Zealand.
– Statutory limits will be introduced on the sale of public asset to no more than 49 per cent of shareholding to private interests and limits would be put on the extent of single entity ownership.
– A ban on guided helicopter hunting on conservation land will be introduced to Parliament.
– The budgets of both Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand will be maintained.
– The Families Commission will be revamped.
– There will be public consultation on Mr Dunne’s Flexi-Super policy.
– Guaranteed access to rivers, lakes, forests and coastline.
– An agreement to reintroduce Mr Dunne’s income sharing legislation which failed to win enough support in the last Parliament.
– Free health-checks for over 65-year-olds would also be investigated.

Whoa…! Back up that coalition-pony, sonny boy!

No sale of KiwiBank or Radio New Zealand?!?!

Since when did National advocate or campaign on the privatisation of Kiwibank or Radio New Zealand?

In fact, John Key made it a campaign promise that Kiwibank was not up for sale, and that the only state assets on the block were Genesis Power, Meridian, Might River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand. No mention whatsoever of Radio NZ or Kiwibank.

What’s going on here?

Either Peter Dunne is telling fibs and creating a false “victory” – or else National had a secret agenda of further asset asales!?

Someone is misleading the public.

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+++ Updates +++

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Full Story

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The above article starts out positive and seemingly Dunne has succeeded in saving TVNZ7 from disappearing and being replaced by a shopping channel…

Until one reads this in the same piece,

I would have preferred to have got a much more explicit agreement regarding the future of TVNZ 7 but the National Party wouldn’t go there.”

And Dunne  then adds,

TVNZ keeps saying it needs to run as a commercial body, and it obviously makes its own decisions, but I think it needs to recognise there is a significant chunk of the population that prefers the approach TVNZ 7 takes and would be very disappointed if that channel was to close.

So he really hasn’t “saved TVNZ7” at all. In fact, Dunne admitted as much this morning (Dec 6) on Radio NZ, when he said on “Morning Report“,

” …I wanted to get an absolute committment  to the retention of TVNZ7. We weren’t able to get that. The government wasn’t prepared to make that, uh, concession…”

Ok, so let’s sum this up,

  • Dunne get’s a promise from National that neither Kiwibank nor Radio NZ will be sold.
  • But National never suggested selling Kiwibank or Radio NZ in the first place.
  • So what kind of “victory” is it to get a committment on something that the Nats weren’t intending to do anyway?
  • Dunne then negotiates to get an absolute committment to save TVNZ7.
  • And fails.

Have I missed anything?

Moving right along…

“Free health-checks for over 65-year-olds” – ???

Great. More rip-offs from my generation, the Baby Boomers. Everyone else has to pay for health checks – but all of a sudden we get freebies?

Yet again Baby Boomers – being a sizeable bloc of voters – gain tax-payer funded social services whilst everyone else has user-pays.

No doubt these “free health checks” will be funded from that sale of state assets. Once again Baby Boomers are ripping off future generations for our own selfish benefit.

The word obscene comes to mind.

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Email  Peter Dunne to let him know what you think about asset sales:

p.dunne@ministers.govt.nz

ohariu.mp@parliament.govt.nz

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Post mortem #3: The Maori Party

28 November 2011 26 comments

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This is when politicians really break out in sweat,

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“The Maori Party leadership has met in Auckland today but is yet to decide on a future relationship with National.

Co-leader Tariana Turia said the party would discuss the issue with supporters after meeting with Prime Minister John Key tomorrow.

A reduced Maori Party caucus gathered in Auckland this morning to discuss possible coalition deals.

The party suffered a serious dent in its support last night. It lost Rahui Katene’s Te Tai Tonga seat and saw reduced margins in its remaining three electorates.

Co-leader Pita Sharples was visibly deflated last night and admitted to being disappointed with his own result and that of the whole party.

He said the party’s poor performance showed supporters did not like the party siding with National over the past three years.”

Full Story

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Co-leader Pita Sharples  said “the party’s poor performance showed supporters did not like the party siding with National over the past three years“.

Well now, that’s an understatement if I ever heard one.

It may seem like a Big Ask, but maori appear to want contradictory things for the Maori Party; independent representation with their own  political movement – and a voice in government. But not in coalition  – Maori Party voters seem overtly hostile to coalescing with National.

Anything else? Would you like fries with that?!

I don’t envy Pita Sharples or Tariana Turia one jot. They have conflicting messages from their constituents, and have already been punished with the loss of one of their number, and reduced votes. This is critical support that no small Party can afford. The next step would be a one-man band Party (a-la Peter Dunne, John Banks, and Jim Anderton) followed by political extinction.

On top of expectations from their constituents is a new thorn in their sides; state asset sales. The proposed sales are deeply unpopular with the majority of  the public (or so they tell the pollsters) and no less so with maori.

Sharples has consistently stated that the Maori Party are opposed to asset sales – though with the caveat that if the sales do proceed, they want Iwi Inc. to have first options to buy.

National, of course, would never have a bar of such a proposal.

On top of all this is the  convention of providing Confidence and Supply to the government.

Budgets are presented to the House for voting by all MPs. If the Budget passes, then government is assured of Supply – at least until the next Budget.  In all likelihood, National will make asset sales a central pillar  of their first Budget.

If the Budget is voted down – the government falls. If the Opposition cannot form a new government, then a snap  election is called.

Is essence, if Sharples goes ahead with his promise to oppose asset sales, he is effectively voting down the government’s Budget.

With National’s majority only a slim margin, the Maori Party would be playing a risky game of high-stakes, political poker. Excluding Maori Party support, National will have only a one seat majority in the House once the Speaker’s role is taken into account,

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With Labour a couple of seats short of being able to form a Labour-Greens-NZF-Mana-Maori Party Coalition – a fresh election is inevitable.

At best, the Maori Party could only abstain from voting for Supply for the government. That would mean National relying on Peter Dunne and John Banks to make up the numbers. Just barely.

Not exactly voting for asset sales – and not exactly opposing it, either. And all the while having to satisfy their constituents – or face an even greater voter back-lash in 2014.

At this stage, joining Winston Peters on the cross-benches; voting on legislation issue-by-issue; and hoping that Tariana Turia’s “pet-project” Whanau Ora is not canned – seems their likely option.

This may work. Until the first by-election happens – and last year there were four such by-elections.

To coalesce or not to coalesce – that is the question. Classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t, for a small party in Parliament.

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Election Eleven – Saturday

26 November 2011 12 comments

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Election Eleven – Saturday

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National has won the election, and, seemingly increased it’s Party vote from 44% to 48%.

Despite running a policy-based campaign based on important issues, Labour has suffered a major setback.

The Greens, meanwhile, have done stunningly well.

And Winston Peters was the sole beneficiary of the  “cuppa tea” meeting in Epsom.

Some initial observations…

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ACT

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The “cuppa tea” meeting between the Two Johns has proven to be a futile exercise. The sole gain for ACT was to return John Banks (a former National MP) to Parliament – but with no extra MPs “riding on his coat-tails”.

In effect, there was no profit for National to support ACT. National might as well not bothered and simply supported Paul Goldsmith.

ACT’s continuing existence is now at the pleasure of Dear Leader, John Key.

By 2014, ACT will most likely disappear.

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Green Party Voters – Ohariu

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Green Party members in the Ohariu electorate – you people need to learn to count and to understand the concept of tactical voting.

By giving your electorate vote to the local Green candidate, Gareth Hughes, instead of Charles Chauvel, you have allowed Peter Dunne to return to Parliament and give National an extra coalition partner.

National wishes to thank you for your assistance in returning a centre-right government to power.

Similar results have occurred in other electorates, where Green supporters voted for their Electorate candidate,  instead of voting strategically, with a Labour/Green split.

For example; Waitakere:

Paula Bennett (N): 12,310

Carmel Sepulone (L): 11,961

Steve Tollestrup (G):  1,582

1,582 wasted electorate votes for the Green candidate could have helped the Labour cadidate defeat Paula Bennett. Instead, Carmel Sepulone – a very talented Labour candidate – has lost her seat in Parliament.

Similar instances abound in other electorates.

*facepalm*

Next time, Green Voters,  ease up on the wacky-bakky before you vote.

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Asset Sales

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By voting National, New Zealanders have given National the mandate to sell state assets. That’s our assets. Or rather, they used to be our assets. Pretty shortly, they will belong to Americans, Germans, Chinese, Australians.

Congratulations, fellow New Zealanders, you’ve succeeded in giving away our best performing; most profitable publicly-owned; assets.

After our electricity companies are sold off,  wait till you get you next power bills. When power prices begin to rise, as overseas owners demand higher and higher returns on their investments, you will be reminded that we did this to ourselves. No one forced us to sell.

Aren’t we a clever bunch?

Not.

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Maori Party

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Pita Sharples has stated that the Maori Party will oppose asset sales as National’s coalition partner.

Oh dear lord…

Sharples needs to look at the rules of Supply & Confidence. Specifically, if National makes asset sales a part of their budget; and the Maori Party votes down that budget; they will have denied the National-led government Supply, which in turn will force a snap election.

Does the Maori Party want to force a snap election and suffer the wrath of the voting public?

Do they want to risk electoral annihilation at the hands of annoyed voters? I doubt it.

Checkmate.

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Horizon Polling

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The biggest loser of the night, few will take Horizon Polling seriously after tonight’s election results.

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MMP

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The BIG winner of the night; New Zealanders have voted to retain MMP. This was due in part to “Vote for Change” mounting the most pathetic, incompetant, and and mostly invisible campaign in this country’s history.

And Jordan Williams had the cheek to blame the media for “not having a debate” on the issue?

Jordan Williams needs to take responsibility for his Claytons-campaign. Blaming the media  may work for Winston Peters – but coming from others, it is not a good look.

MMP won because,

  • It is relatively  simple to understand,
  • The alternatives were unfair; unworkable; or hellishly  complex to understand,
  • New Zealanders simply didn’t feel inclined to change.

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Labour

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Was this a defeat for Labour?

No. I see it as a postponement of a victory.

In the next three years, as National’s policies really start to bite low and middle income earners, and those at the top increase their wealth, Labour’s time will come in 2014 (if not earlier – see Maori Party above).

I am picking a snap election in a years’ time, or mid-term.

And this time, National will lose.

As for Phil Goff – I hope he doesn’t step down. I think he’s actually grown in stature over the last few weeks. He won two of the three Leader’s Debates handsomely, and is able to pin down John Key on issues.

With the media/Key honeymoon well and truly over, Goff now has a chance to show up National’s weaknesses to the public.

The campaign for the next election starts on Monday.

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Additional

Post mortem #1: Green Voters in Electorates

Post mortem #2: Phil Goff

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Election Eleven – Thursday

24 November 2011 2 comments

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Election Eleven – Thursday

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It appears that stress is starting to show on National’s campaign team,

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Hasling the bus driver is not a good look. Nor is it particularly sensible when he has to focus on driving that big blue tank along some of our more… challenging” roads…

Word of caution, guys. Don’t upset John (the busdriver).   Not unless the next votes you’ll be canvassing will be at the Pearly Gates.

Mind you, could it be that Dear Leader’s mega-star status is waning?

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If John Key thinks that reception was “frosty” – he ain’t seen nothing yet.  Another three years of his smile & wave vacant optimism is going to wear very thin – especially as wages continue to lag; unemployment stays high; and the economy continues to stagnate.

On top of that will be the open, festering ‘sore’ that is Christchurch. The slow re-build and insurance companies abandoning that city (and possibly the rest of the country?) will really piss people of.

An election victory for Mr Key may be a glittering  chalice containing a toxic brew.

Cheers, Mr Prime Minister!

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So much for customer loyalty; good corporate citizenship; and the “free market” providing a service,

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And so much for John Key’s blind faith in insurance companies doing the “right thing”,

One thing I do know is that as things settle down – and they will settle down in Christchurch – eventually what’s going to happen is a lot of insurers are going to look at that market and say, ‘wow, there’s quite a lot of premium in there,’ and you will see insurers coming back more rapidly than you think.”  Source

And is John Key still concerned? As he said in September,

“”This is something the government is monitoring. Obviously, if insurance companies aren’t doing their job properly that is a concern to us.“”  Source

If ever there was a case for the New Zealand government top have retained State Insurance in state-ownership – we are seeing it now.

Corporations are fair-weather “friends”. They will supply us with services and products as long as it suits  them. When it no longer suits their bottom line, they will depart our shores, along with the hundreds of millions of dollars in profits that they have extracted from us.

And National wants more of the same?

I think it is high time we re-asserted our sovereignty and revisited the state’s role in matters such as  insurance.  We  simply cannot rely on the beneficence of the free market. (Did we ever?)

Something to consider on Saturday, when your marker-pen is hovering over which Party box to tick.

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At the TV3 Leader’s Debate last night, John Key asserted that he’ll be voting for SM (supplementary member) in the upcoming referendum because he preferred proportionality in our electoral systems.

Key repeaterd this in the latest “Upper Hutt Leader”, where he said,

I’m going to vote “no” to MMP and “yes” for Supplementary Member.

“My view is that, on balance, I would prefer a proportional system to first past the post.”  Source

John Key is either uninformed about Supplementary Member – or is being deliberately disingenuous.

Supplentary Member is not proportional. It is not even close to be proportional.

SM is actually a form of First Past the Post where ninety out of 120 Parliamentary seats are contested on a FPP basis. It offers the prospect of a return to unbridled power by the two main Parties, with minimal (if any) representation by smaller Parties.

If the Prime Minister doesn’t know this – that is concerning.

If he is aware of this, and still claims that SM is “proportional” – then he is deliberately mis-leading voters.

John Key has done this sort of thing before. He is increasingly revealing himself to the public as being loose with the truth

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Whether one accepts that the convo between the Two Johns was private or public (and this blog leans toward the preposterous assertion that one can hold a “private conversation” with 30+ journos about a metre away), the Prime Minister’s complaint and subsequent raids on media companies is nothing less than a complete waste of police time,

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It is also a chilling example of how a politician in high office can mis-use the power of the State to “make a point” and to intimidate opposition.

There have been previous examples of this government pressuring, ridiculing, and intimidating  those with dissenting views.

Is this the road New Zealanders want to go down on?

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Ahhhh, as we suspected,

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John Key is “warning the election could be closer than voters think“?  Pundits and bloggers have been voicing suspicion for the past month that National’s internal polling was showing results that were far closer than main stream polling has been giving us.

John Key has finally confirmed this.

If people want a centre-left, Labour-led coalition government – they need just go out and vote for it.

Yup. It doesn’t get simpler than that.

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Election Eleven – Wednesday

23 November 2011 4 comments

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Election Eleven – Wednesday

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Another stirling free-market “success” story,

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So another 28 workers lose their jobs; go on the unemployment benefit; and get labelled as “dole bludgers” by right wing imbeciles.

This is New Zealand in 2011AD:  Neo-liberal Nirvana.

Tell me, my fellow New Zealanders – you who pride yourself as being fair-minded and always willing to give others a fair go – does the closure of this yarn factory and job losses strike a chord with you? There are hundreds – thousands – of similar businesses like Qualityarns that’ve gone bust since Roger Douglas put his hand up in Parliament and said, “Ive got a great idea!”.

Isn’t it ironic… 28 men and women had a job yesterday. Tomorrow they will be on the dole and suffering bene-bashing.

Along with 154,000 other men and women.

Is this it?

Is this what we have to look forward to? Unemployment for some; low wages for others; mass-migration to Australia; and cheap goods from China, India, etc?

Hullo? Is anyone awake in this country?!?!

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~ ~ ~

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This is frankly a form of economic vandalism. What are we mounting here? An economic development strategy for China?” – David Cull, Mayor of Dunedin

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The latest in John Key’s hard-sell* of our assets,

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Listen to John Key speaking to reporters on asset sale plans

Listen to full interview

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Now let me get this straight…

Key reckons that “National would legislate to create a cap on the shares held in any state assets”?  He adds that,

National would pass a law stating that no individual or company could own more than a 10% share. There’s historical precedent there – Telecom had a cap – it’s just a matter of passing legislation. We’d pass it.” Source

Really?

A couple of points here.

National’s definition of the word “cap” appears to be somewhat different to that expressed in, oh, say, just about every English dictionary in the Known Universe. This government has “capped” the civil service by actively cutting government workers, and making them redundant.

So does the word “cap” mean the same for National as it does for ordinary citizens? Recent events suggest not.

Secondly. I’m not a financial whizz-kid in John Key’s league. I’ve never speculated on a zillion dollars; made a bajillion dollars profit; and banked a squillion dollars commision. My work is somewhat more mundane.

However. Even I know that passing a law to “cap” (definition?) share-ownership at 10% can be easily rorted. I can spot an immediate loophole:

  1. Company A sets up five shelf companies; A1, A2, A3, A4, and A5.
  2. Each Shelf company buys 9%.
  3. Result; parent company A now owns 45%.
  4. And John Key smiles and points to his “success” at preventing any one company from gobbling up the whole lot.
  5. And by registering each shelf company in special company/tax havens, such as Ian Wishart described in “The Paradise Conspiracy” – we’ll never know that Company A has bought up the lion’s share of available shares.
  6. Easy peasy.

I suspect John Key – being somewhat more knowlegeable in such arcane matters – is already aware of such a possibilty.

But I guess he doesn’t want to spoil the nice fairy tale he’s been spinning us…

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(* Hard-sell – as in selling to us what we already own)

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Perhaps the most sober, insightful, and plain-speaking look at where we have arrived as a society, after 27 years of radical, free market, “reforms” and the rise of the “Me” Generation,

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Full Story & On-demand Replay

Facebook: Inside Child Poverty New Zealand

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Every politician; aspiring political candidate; community leader; businessperson; and follower of the “free” market should be made to sit and watch this film. This is how we have made New Zealand.

This is a portrait of a society that has lost it’s soul, in pursuit of money and the illusion of “free choice”.

Watch… and maybe learn.

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Well, well, well… I wonder what other bad news Dear Leader is keeping from us,

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When Goff sprung that on Key, he looked decidedly uncomfortable.

Which is silly, really. Trying to keep political secrets in this country is like trying to carry water in a butterfly net. The question is not if a secret will be made public – but will it make it in time for the 6PM News on TV1 or TV3.

I suspect there will be a few more unpleasant surprises in store for us next year, if National wins the election. Their last three years have indicated to us that, as usual, right wing governments and secret agendas go hand-in-hand.

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Firstly, since when is cutting the same as capping?! National has been actively cutting government jobs – whilst at the same time hiring some very expensive “advisors”. These jobs are men and women who have given many loyal years of service to the country. They are the ones who do the work in the back-room offices, to ensure that phones are answered when we have a query about tax or traffic lights are out, and that essential  services are carried out.

Loading front-line services with more paperwork and other administrative duties seems counter-productive. And people are beginning to resent it, and resist these cost-cutting follies.

So much for our esteemed leader, John Key,  assuring New Zealanders that “there’s no way one in five New Zealanders will lose their jobs“.

Making people unemployed is not helping our economy.

For National to be persisting with this false economy of job cuts is not just hurting the economy and hurting ordinary New Zealanders – it signifies a depressing lack of imagination from the National Party,

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This is National’s “action plan”, if re-elected,

National’s action plan includes:

– Have the budget deficit next year, and be back in surplus in 2014/2015
– Establish the Crown Water Investment Company to invest up to $400 million from the Future Investment Fund in irrigation and water storage to make farm land more productive
– Amend the Resource Management Act to have six-month time limits on consenting medium-sized projects
– Immediately implement the new lower public service staffing cap
– Slow the phasing-in of the Emissions Trading Scheme and allow off-setting for pre-1990 forest owners
– Amend the Social Security Act to comprehensively reform benefits
– Introduce changes to sanctions for beneficiaries whose recreational use of drugs affects their ability to apply for and secure a job
– Change bail laws to make it harder for those accused of the most serious offences to get bail
– Introduce screening of parole applications to allow the Parole Board to reduce the number of unnecessary parole hearings
– Pass the Search and Surveillance Bill
– Make secondary school performance information available to parents
– Immediately begin work to develop more effective teacher and principal appraisal
– Increase the number of elective operations by at last 4000 a year
– Work with district health boards to ensure patients needing a specialist appointment are seen within no more than four months by 2014
– Begin work with local primary care networks to provide free after-hours GP visits to children under six
– Start building 17,000 seat temporary stadium at Addington
– Receive and assess the CBD recovery plan

Source

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No mention of jobs.

But plenty of threats of State  punitive actions,

– Immediately implement the new lower public service staffing cap
– Amend the Social Security Act to comprehensively reform benefits
– Introduce changes to sanctions for beneficiaries whose recreational use of drugs affects their ability to apply for and secure a job
– Change bail laws to make it harder for those accused of the most serious offences to get bail
– Introduce screening of parole applications to allow the Parole Board to reduce the number of unnecessary parole hearings
– Pass the Search and Surveillance Bill

The National Party shows a strong inclination toward  “Daddy Statism”. Lots of punishments. Increases in state police powers (they’ll need them).  And blaming those of welfare for the lack of job-growth in this country.

There is nothing positive in any of this.

And this is what New Zealanders are supporting as a possible government?

Perhaps, collectively, we feel we don’t deserve any better.

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2008

That was then…

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2011

This is now…

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I have the strongest impression that New Zealanders are not just leaving because of higher wages in Australia. There has  be more to it than that.

Could it be that those leaving are seeking a better quality of life? Could it be that the free market reforms have created a “Me Society” where New Zealanders feel disconnected from our own country?

Bryan Bruce’s sobering and thoughtful documentary “Inside NZ: Inside Child Poverty” suggests to me that twentyseven years of free market, user-pays, growing gaps between wealthy and Middle Classes and Poor, and growing underclass has created a sense of alienation and frustration.

The irony is that John Key saying that – “I believe we’ve made some progress in so much that we have been closing that after-tax wage gap, we are building an economy that is now growing at a faster rate than Australia but it will take us some time to turn that around” –  is not just unhelpful, but totally ignoring the root-cause of what has fractured our society.

Here’s a clue: Money buys goods and serevices. It does not buy a sense of community.

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Quote of the week.

M@TT   #29   2:12pm

John Key, get your stinking paws off Our SOE’s, you damned dirty ape

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Dominion Post Comments

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Election Eleven – Tuesday

22 November 2011 2 comments

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Election Eleven – Tuesday

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Now this is just downright creepy:  right wing blogger, David Farrar, is now investigating private individuals who have appeared  as part of TV3’s audience for their Leader’s Debate last night? A screenshot from his Blog,

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I have blanked out the names that Farrar has published and I have not linked back to his article. I have no wish to aid his witch hunt against three individuals.

But I think it is the height of hypocrisy that Farrar and his right-wing colleagues criticised Labour non-stop for “Nanny State” policy – and now he is identifying private individuals for their (supposed) political activities.

Is this to be the new standard set by right wing blogs?

It now appears that if  a New Zealand citizen is even remotely politically active, that they may be subjected to what is essentially an online, public,  “name & shame” campaign. This can only be viewed as a none-too-subtle form of intimidation. Another term is cyber-bullying.

Does this have any place in New Zealand society? Is this the direction of future politics in this country? And what will it do to getting people more involved in politics?

This isn’t “Nanny Statism”. Nope, not at all.

It’s Big Brother – and Big Brother (aka David Farrer, et al) is Watching You!

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I’ll say it now: there is no place in politics – or any other part of our society – for behaviour like this,

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Whilst I disagree with Ms Barry’s politics – she has a democratic right to go about her business without being abused like this.  I sincerely hope that anyone knowing who this man is, take him aside, and tell him that such behaviour is utterly repugnant and unacceptable.

Ms Barry is an intelligent, articulate woman who has achieved much in her life. Disagree with her if you will – but respect her for her accomplisments; her willingness to participate in the democratic process; and for simply being a human being.

Politics is a contest of ideas – not a spitting game that juveniles might indulge in.

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Taken by an observant reader, and sent to me ten minutes ago,

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Hmmmm, I’m guessing that for the Nats to state that “Your vote is crucial this sat”, that they are starting to panic? Something has definitely spooked the back-room National strategy boys…

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… and yet more fear  mongering from John Key,  about Winston Peters? I now believe that National’s internal polling is showing that they are bleeding voter support and that they are probably somewhere around 46-48% – if not lower.

Otherwise, why would Key be wasting his time with the leader of a near-non-existent party that isn’t even represented in Parliament?!

National is right to be worried.

There are National supporters who view John Key’s scheme to sell state assets with considerable unease – if not downright hostility. Such voters are loathe to vote for a left-wing alternative such as Labour or Greens. But NZ First is a “soft Tory” alternative.

Expect Peters to return.

Expect a new Labour led coalition.

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Oh dear. It seems that National is making election promises regarding matters that are already law,

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Someone in the National camp really should check their facts. Promising to implement policy that has been a law for well over a decade seems pointless. Mind you, it is rather a cheap way to make election promises.

They won’t cost anything.

They’ve already been implemented,

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Fraud Investigations

Fraud Investigation teams nationwide work to preserve the integrity of the income support system by preventing and detecting benefit fraud.

Fraud Investigation teams work closely with the National Data Match Centre. The Centre shares data with other government agencies including:

  • Customs
  • Inland Revenue
  • Corrections
  • Housing New Zealand
  • Accident Compensation Corporation
  • Internal Affairs.

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And being already implemented – National can take credit for it!

What a cunning plan!

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Whoopsie! Isn’t it a bugger when a photo-op comes back to bite you?

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Key explains,

Lots of young people decide to go for an OE – I don’t know how long she’ll last. I’m not in a position to go into too much; hope she comes back.” Source

Ummm, John… She’s sixteen. She’s hardly likely to be going on her OE, and probably leaving  with her family. Probably long-term migration.

She and her family are joining 84,400 who have also left New Zealand in the last year.

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The Great New Zealand Scam

19 November 2011 1 comment

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Never mind Nigerian scammers – we have something much closer to home, and is the biggest rort ever. What do retirement policies and asset sales have in common? Plenty!

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Full Story

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One commentator to the story above posted this message on Stuff’s messageboard,

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cm   #47   11:48 pm Nov 18 2011

All this shows is who votes, and in numbers.

the boomers stand to loose the most from a retirement age increase. The boomers stand to gain the most from asset sales.

come on gen y, x, z what ever the demographs call you. get out and vote before the baby boomers (your own parents/grandparents) sell you and your future out. its pretty damn simple, if you over 20 you arnt a child anymore, your an adult. so act like you give a damn about your futures and stop believing the bullshit that your parents will look after you, put that on a tui bill board.

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CM has pretty well identified how Baby Boomers are going to “internalise a complicated situation” by voting National even though, on the surface, they have an alleged dislike of asset sales.

It is a perfect analysis of what is about to happen on 26 November: the Baby Boomer generation is about to ‘steal’ property from the next generation, for their own gain.

Instead of our generation paying it’s way through taxation, we’ve voted tax cuts for ourselves (2009, 2010) and big borrowings from overseas to sustain those tax cuts, and maintain social services. Then, to start paying it back, instead of doing it through taxation, we’ll sell off state assets. End result; we get the benefits, and Gen X, Y, etc, are left with $13 billion in student debt and not much more to show for it.

By the way, John Key and many others in his position had the benefit of a free tertiary education – fully tax-payer funded. With a student allowance on top, to make it all as easy as possible.

Then, through two tax cuts, he voted himself an extra $1000 a week.

Meanwhile, our young folk are accumulating more and more student debt. By last year, the student debt mountain has grown to an unfeasible $13.9 billion.

What a racket! This is ‘better’ than a Ponzi Scheme! It’s better than a Nigerian scam – because it’s all totally legal.

This is why our best and brightest young people are heading overseas.  They’re leaving before they get saddled with the bill for looking after us in our retirement.

Unfortunately, Labour’s policy to make sure disengaged youth are heard may be too little, too late. Our children are already disconnected from us and our society because we made damn sure it happened that way. Saddling our young folk with a debt we (Baby Boomers) never had to face is pretty well telling them, “Kid, you’re on your own!”.

All I’ll say to Gen Xers and Yers is: Run! (Though Baby Boomers – through the government – won’t let you get away quite so easily.)

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Additional reading

Student loans – the debt mountain

Govt may use student loan debt collectors abroad

Greed is Good?

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Rod Oram on national asset sales

12 November 2011 Leave a comment

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The following is a brief, 1.03 minute excerpt from a fuller interview held on Radio NZ’s “Nine to Noon” show, hosted by Kathryn Ryan.

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[Click on Image]

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Rod Oram is a New Zealand journalist writing on corporate, economic and political issues. He is a columnist for ‘The Sunday Star-Times’ and ‘Good Magazine’, a regular broadcaster on radio and television and a frequent public speaker. He is an adjunct professor in the business school at Unitec in Auckland and he has contributed to several regional economic development projects. – Wikipedia

In 1.03 minutes, Oram raises a serious question as to the economic logic behind part-selling state assets.

The full interview can be heard here. (Worth while.)

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Acknowledgement

Acknowledgement and thanks to Josephine for bringing this to my attention.

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ACT and The Greens – some thoughts

5 November 2011 2 comments

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I’ve been thinking…

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ACT

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Throughout this election campaign – and even prior to Don Brash’s coup d’état – ACT has been polling well under the 5% MMP threshold, that permits a Party to win seats in Parliament.

With such low voter support, ACT has relied on the electorate seat of Epsom, which Rodney Hide won in the 2008 General Election with a handsome 21,102 electorate votes. National’s Richard Worth came a distant second with 8,220 electorate votes.

Since then, ACT has suffered several set-backs;

  • A very public coup, which saw Don Brash seize the leadership of ACT – despite the fact he was not even a member of that Party when he took over.
  • A serious mis-calculation in advocating legalisation of marijuana. Whilst this would be reasonable policy for a quasi-libertarian Party – it did not go down well with the conservative folk of Epsom.
  • John Banks reportedly “reigning in” his own Party leader on the cannabis issue.
  • Deputy leader, John Boscawen, resigning under circumstances that were less than clear.
  • Brash attempting to resuscitate anti-Treaty sentiment with a newspaper advert attacking “maori privilege“.
  • Brash not focusing on core, economic issues, as he said he would at the time he took over from Rodney Hide.
  • Nominating John Banks as the new candidate for Epsom – something that Epsomites seem less than enthusiastic about.
  • John Key stating publicly that he was voting for the National candidate in Epsom, Paul Goldsmith.

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Prime Minister John Key will not vote for ACT's John Banks for the Epsom electorate, instead giving his vote to National's Paul Goldsmith

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With ACT practically falling apart before our eyes, it seems unsurprising that it barely registers in public opinion polls. It polls usually 1-3%.

Meanwhile, Banks is trailing behind Paul Goldsmith, despite the “unspoken arrangement” between National and ACT, the Epsom National Party supporters give Banks their Electorate Vote, and National their Party Vote. The idea being that if ACT scores over 1.2% of the Party Vote nationwide; and wins Epsom*; then Banks could pull one or two extra MPs into Parliament with him, as a Coalition partner for National.

So far there seems little chance of this happening. If current polling translates into votes on 26 November, then ACT is out of Parliament – another small party “bites the dust” under MMP.

One part of me views this possibility with a shrug and a “meh”.  Considering ACT’s harsh right wing policies that most certainly favour the rich and corporate ‘elite’, it is hard to muster any sympathy for such a group.

But another part of me is… uneasy. Uneasy at the prospect of ACT’s demise.

Though I have no truck with that Party and it’s hard-line right-wing, neo-liberal, free market ideology – I cannot help wondering what will happen once it fails to return to Parliament.

What will happen to it’s supporters?

Where will they go, in terms of finding a new political “Home”?

Remember that ACT was founded by Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble – one-time Labour Party MPs. Douglas, Prebble, and other hangers-on had colonised a supposedly social democratic, left-wing party – and between 1984 and 1989, had managed to gain control of Labour. Like some parasitic organism, they had managed to take over the Host, and turned Labour into a precursor of the ACT Party.

A party of me shudders at the imminent demise of ACT.

Where will the ‘parasites’ end up? In which new Host?

The obvious choice would appear to be National.

If ACT supporters colonise National and become a viable, albeit invisible, faction within that Party – it will happen out-of-sight, and without the elecorate’s knowledge.

Voters in 1984 believed they were voting for a traditional Labour Party. They were badly mistaken.

National, with an agitating ACT faction vying for power and influence, could be a re-run of history.

Let’s not be too keen to see the end of ACT. Let’s keep the buggers where we can see them; out in the open.

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+++ Updates +++

ACT polls at wipeout low in Epsom

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The Greens

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There has been some discussion recently  about the (extremely remote)  possibility of a National-Green Coalition, post-election.

The Green Party leadership seems frosty at the idea, and List candidate, Catherine Delahunty, has stated that she will resign if such a Coalition deal eventuates.

Most recently, this issue was canvassed during an episode of Statos TV’s “iPredict Election Show”, with Green MP, Gareth Hughes.

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Personally, I have no great love for this notion either.

My first preference would be a Labour-Greens-Mana-(Maori Party?) Coalition. (And yes, I think such a notion would work. They all want similar things for their constituents, and despite some asteroid-sized egos at work, their party policies are not as divorced from each other as they like to make out.)

However

In saying that…

Part of the rationale for MMP is that small parties act as a “brake” on the executive power of governments. Most recently this worked well when ACT voted – along with Labour and the Greens – to seriously amend  National’s outrageously draconian, Police Video Surveillance Bill.

MMP is not just an electoral system – it is an extension of the Will of the Voter to prevent any one party from having total control over Parliament. The days of unbridled power by the likes of Muldoon, Douglas, Bolger, and Richardson, are long gone.

If the Greens can act as a “brake” on National – should it win the largest number of seats in Parliament – but not sufficient to govern  on their own – then this option should be explored. With all due respect to Ms Delahunty – a principled person who does not appear to brook political shenanigans easily – let us at least look at what the Greens might achieve in Coalition with the Nats…

  • No asset sales. Not 49%. Not 25%. Not 1%. End of story.
  • No more demonisation and attacks on unemployed and other beneficiaries. Enough of the victim-blaming of this recession.
  • Re-focus the next government’s attention on job-creation policies. This has to be a priority. Without jobs, we are sentencing a couple of hundred thousand of our fellow Kiwis to rot on welfare.
  • Raise the minimum wage. Yeah, I know this is Labour Party policy – but somehow I dont  think they’ll mind if you nick it and use it.
  • Begin the re-building of Christchurch, in earnest. Enough with the messing around. As a famous sweatshop-operator-and-maker-of -footwear sez, Just Do It!

A Green-National partnership would be handy to achieve all of the above. But more than that – much more importantly – the Greens could pull National away from the Right, and back to the middle ground in politics.

That, in itself, would be a worthy achievement.

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* Note

If a Party wins an Electorate Seat, then they are not bound by the 5% threshold, and can win as many seats as their Party Vote allows them, regardless of whether or not they are at 5%.

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National – as fiscally prudent as a heroin addict?

John Key today announced that the proceeds from state asset sales could be used for roading…

Now hang on a mo’…

I thought National was intending to part-privatise Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy, Mighty River Power, coal miner Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand to pay off some of the $71 billion debt that National has racked up since it came to office in 2008?!

Now Key is suggesting that National may use the proceeds to pay for roading? Strangely enough, Key makes no mention of selling state assets to fund infra-structure here.

The questions that spring to my mind are;

1. Where is the income from Road User charges, gst on fuel, and other roading-related taxes that we are paying every time we fill up our vehicles at the pumps???

2. Wouldn’t it make more sense to use the profits from Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy, Mighty River Power, coal miner Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand, for infra-structure spending – rather han the actual generators of those profits???

3. If National has to rely on asset sales for infra-structure spending – what will they be relying on once all state assets are privatised and we’ve lost the entire income-stream???

This is like a heroin addict selling his car to pay for his next ‘fix’. What will he sell next? And what will he do once all his possessions are gone?

It’s not exactly a “good look” when a government behaves like a drug addict.

As for the good people of Kapiti – they got the government they voted for. It’s hard for me to feel any sympathy on this issue. My thoughts are with the 140 people who lost their jobs at MAF today. Or the thousands of others who’ve been made redundant these last three years.

My anger is directed at those individuals who blame welfare beneficiaries for the predicament they are in. The finger-pointers who blame the poorest and most vulnerable for daring to be poor and vulnerable.

To the people of Kapiti; you helped elect this government to office. You now have a wee taste of what it feels like to be steam-rolled and to be victimised.

Remember this on 26 November.

Capitalism, top heavy and toppling – Bernard Hickey

This is must-read stuff…

Full article here.

It is worth noting that, here in New Zealand, recent tax cuts gave $2.5 billion a year to the top 10 per cent of earners and “practically nothing to the bottom 20 per cent of earners, who got 3 per cent of those cuts”.

It is also worth noting that, as a country, we are having to borrow $380 million  per week to – in part – fund those tax cuts.  That’s $17.6 billion this year alone.

Far from being a “prudent fiscal manager”, National is being highly irresponsible as it continues to woo the  Middle Class for their votes.

Only thing is: eventually it all has to be paid back. Even selling all out SOEs won’t cover that debt mountain, as we simply don’t have enough state assets left after the 1980s and 1990s.

TVNZ7, Radio New Zealand, and distracting trinkets.

A neo-liberal is one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. In this case, this National government are slowly strangling good, quality broadcasters like RNZ and TVNZ7 – whilst  feeding us a daily diet of brain-cell deadening, pseudo-news on TV1 and TV3 and apalling programming that consists mostly of American sitcoms, cooking programmes, and bleak crime shows.

If only New Zealanders were as passionate about the lack of governmental support for quality broadcasting as we were about stranded penguins; “Wellywood” signs; and books by Ian Wishart.

Oh, but that would mean thinking about complex issues, wouldn’t it? Jerking the knee with superficial,  emotion-tugging,  issues is much easier:  no effort required.

The state-owned broadcaster registered itself as the Radio New Zealand Charitable Trust with the Charities Commission last month.

Some of its charitable purposes, which were listed on the commission’s website, included education, research, fundraising and providing grants to a number of individuals and groups.

A spokesperson for Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said the broadcaster still received $34 million a year but couldn’t say how long it had been receiving that amount.

A financial review of Radio NZ for the 2009/10 financial year showed it had a net deficit of $498,000 after tax, compared to a surplus of $13,000 the year before.

The review said RNZ had been too cash-strapped to participate in the 2010 New Zealand Radio Awards or put in a bid for the Rugby World Cup 2011 coverage.

Kedgley said she first thought the charity registration was a joke.

“I am appalled to discover that it is serious proposition and that the Board of Radio New Zealand has been forced by the Government’s funding freeze on Radio New Zealand to set up a trust so that it can go out with a begging bowl to the public,” she said.

“The move suggests there is quiet desperation at Radio New Zealand. The broadcaster simply cannot make ends meet under the Government’s funding freeze.”

Curran said the move raised some “serious questions”.

“Not the least of which is why the whole of RNZ has been registered as a charity, and what the long-term intention is,” she said.

“Radio NZ’s survival should not be dependent on it having to solicit donations. It is our state radio broadcaster and holds a special place in New Zealand.”

Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman couldn’t be reached for comment and neither could RNZ chairman Richard Griffin.

Griffin told Fairfax earlier this year that RNZ could only survive a funding freeze for another two years.

He said the current freeze put the public broadcaster in a “more than difficult” financial position.

“If we’re left in a position where every year costs increase and funding remains static, we’re going to wither.”

It was believed that the charity was mainly to fund its concert station.

It is an unbelievable, bizarre state-of -affairs when a public service such as Radio New Zealand , has to register itself as a charity. If this doesn’t ring alarm bells with us, then we are truly asleep.

It should also give us cause for concern that National  will be closing down TVNZ7. This free-to-air; advertising free; public network is a wealth of news, documentaries, and offers an un-commercialised look at ourselves and the world around us.

TVNZ7  treats the viewer with intelligence and respect.  It is television as it should be – and not the mindless rubbish that we are now served up every day on other channels. (Parliament TV excepted – that contains very mature, erudite debate from our Honourable Members of Parliament.)

It is a great shame that two quality public services – TVNZ7 and Radio New Zealand – can be put in jeopardy through the lack of political support from the government-of-the-day, and because of public apathy.  If New Zealanders were as passionate about their own  public broadcasting system, as they were about wayward penguins, oh what a much more mature society we would be.

But we are like children, it seems, and easily enthralled by the latest distracting trinket.

New Zealand has often been described as a “young country”.

That is truer than we realised.

Our Dear Leader…?

6 August 2011 1 comment

I’ve attended TWO public meetings where John Key has spoken.

Firstly; May 24, Lower Hutt, organised by the local Greypower branch.

Secondly; August 2nd, “Expressions” Gallery, Upper Hutt, organised by UH Lions.

On both occassions, my impressions of Key are as follows;

1. He is a very confident public speaker – especially on fiscal issues (naturally, given his background).

2. He is not so much a liar, as he leaves out critical, salient facts so as to promote his p.o.v. Such facts, if honestly presented to the public, would give a more accurate ‘picture’ on various issues.

3. I’ve caught him out on several points, where his statements were simply not accurate. In one instance (24 May), his comments on tax cuts was so mis-leading as to verge on an outright deception.

4. I do not trust him. He is a smoother version of Winston Peters. (Ok, that may be taking things too far. I may have to apologise to the Prime Minister for that remark… )

And judging by some of the shaking of heads amongst the audience, I do not believe that I am the only person who came away with these impressions.

Key, in person, is not quite as credible as the media or general public believes.