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Posts Tagged ‘NZ Power’

Radio NZ: Nine To Noon – Election year interviews – David Cunliffe

26 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Radio NZ, Nine To Noon –

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– Wednesday 25 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan –

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On  Nine To Noon, Kathyrn Ryan interviewed Labour’s leader, David Cunliffe, and asked him about coalition negotiations, policies, polls, and other issues…

 

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Radio NZ logo -  nine to noon

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Click to Listen: Election year interviews (27′ 50″ )

A major policy statement by David Cunliffe;

@ 22.00:  “We will create incentives for private employers to be certified living wage employers, who pay the living wage  to all their employees, by giving them a preference in  Crown contracts.”

This will not only support firms that pay their staff properly – but will de facto give preference to local businesses to supply goods and services!

If this doesn’t motivate Small-Medium Enterprises to switch their allegiances from the Nats to Labour, I don’t know what will!

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 24 February 2014

24 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 24 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams discuss the recent political polls.

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (21′ 58″ )

  • TV1-Colmar Brunton Poll, Roy Morgan poll
  • Election campaigns
  • David Parker
  • Labour Party, NZ Power, “Best Start”, Auckland Rail Loop early start
  • Russell Norman, Kim Dotcom
  • David Cunliffe
  • Shane Taurima, TVNZ
  • Winston Peters
  • Greens, David Hay, Leaders’ Debates
  • ACT, Richard Prebble, Jamie Whyte, flat tax
  • Conservative Party, Colin Craig
  • and an early election in September?

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Employers and Manufacturers Association – wishing for cheaper power is not enough

1 January 2014 5 comments

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HeraldCartoon3413

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Recently, EMA CEO, Kim Campbell, issued a media statement condemning the current high power prices and promises of a “price freeze” by Mighty River Power as inadequate. Campbell’s own words were that the so-called price freeze is  “simply not enough”.

By the way, I refer to MRP’s price freeze as “so called” because, as CEO,  Doug Heffernan stated,

We are now confirming that for our customers there will be no increase in our energy prices for a further 15 months. However, there will likely be changes in customer pricing from April 1 due to variables over which we have no control that we pass through on our bills – such as transmission and distribution charges and any increases in metering costs due to regulatory requirements.”

Source

Unfortunately, the Employers and Manufacturers Association – whilst calling for a drop in power prices – offers nothing constructive in making it happen.

Indeed, in May 2013, soon after the combined LabourGreen announcement on the creation of a single-buyer desk called NZ Power, the EMA (and others) roundly condemned the move.

The EMA was a co-signatory to an open letter  on 2 May, from BusinessNZ and the heads of several chambers of commerce. The letter said, that the policy would harm jobs, growth and investment, causing interest rates to rise, reducing KiwiSaver retirement savings and making people less well off (source).

The associated media release stated,

The signatories to the letter offer to work with the Labour and Green parties to help increase public understanding of the operation of the electricity market and in ensuring consumers have better choice as the electricity market becomes more competitive.”

IBID

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly, stated,

More price competition – rather than damaging price controls – is needed to drive down electricity prices.”

IBID

Well, that “price competition” has worked so amazingly well that seven and a half months later, on 16 December, one of the signatories to that letter condemning NZ Power wrote,

With power supply clearly outstripping demand, electricity prices are now too high and should come down, the Employers and Manufacturers Association says.

“New Zealand clearly now has an excess of installed electricity capacity,” said Kim Campbell, EMA’s chief executive.

“Demand for power is well below the country’s generation capacity and its price should reduce to help stimulate New Zealand’s economic recovery and offset inflationary pressures forecast in other parts of the economy.

“At present projections the savings available to business and residential consumers would be at least $67 million a year, but we suspect it could be much more.

“Stating as Mighty River Power has, that they will not increase the electricity price for three years is simply not enough.

“The Major Electricity Users Group notes the futures price for wholesale power for the year from 1st April 2014 is 7.14 c/kWh, down 0.17 c/kWh for the year. In a competitive market this reduction would be reflected in wholesale costs which would be passed through to retail customers.

“MEUG calculates that an average household using 8,000 kWh per year would save at least $13.80 per year or $23 million for all households.

“For all businesses and residences the potential cost reductions amount to $67 million in 2014/15.

“To maximise competitiveness our electricity market structures need to ensure the lowest possible power price while signalling the right time to invest in future generation and transmission.

Source

Unfortunately, Campbell then shoots himself in the proverbial foot by adding,

The Labour/Greens electricity proposal to underprice our existing power assets is no answer.

“To spur on market competition businesses should seek out the best power deals at www.whatsmynumber.org.nz/mybusiness

As I said, hasn’t that worked out well?!

So, if I understand Campbell’s stance on this problem; the LabourGreen proposal for NZ Power “is no answer“.

Instead, begging the power companies to drop their prices is Campbell’s only solution?!

Pathetic.

His “solution” is a do-nothing, beg-for-the-best, whilst New Zealanders are having to pay for higher and higher power prices.

To remind Campbell and his fellow businessmen and women; the more that we consumers pay for electricity –

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MED Prices-httpwww.med.govt.nzsectors-industriesenergyenergy-modellingdataprices

Source

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the less disposable income we consumers have to spend on their goods and services.

Without drawing a bright, pretty, picture with crayons, I can’t make that simple truism any clearer to understand.

Which is why, when the EMA joined BusinessNZ in an ideological vendetta against the LabourGreen proposal, they were not only doing consumers a grave disservice – but also slitting their own financial throats.

The. More. We. Spend. On. Power, The. Less. We. Have. To. Spend. On. Other. Goods. And. Services.

Perhaps Campbell and his supposedly astute business colleagues should re-visit their position on NZ Power?

Who knows – it might actually be good for business!

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 December 2013.

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References

Otago Daily Times: Lower power prices coming says Bradford (3 June 1999)

MoBIE: Power prices

Statistics New Zealand: The history of electricity reform

NZ Herald: Labour, Greens make power promise

Scoop media: Open Letter to Labour, Greens: Please Withdraw Your Policy

TV3: Mighty River Power promises price freeze until April 2015

Scoop media: Electricity prices should come down

Fairfax media: Business urges Opposition to dump power plans

Previous related blogposts

The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Tahi

The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Rua

The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Toru

The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Wha

It’s Official, The Sky Will Fall – Phil O’Reilly

Labour, Greens, NZ First, & Mana – A Bright Idea with electricity!

History Lesson – Tahi – Electricity Sector “reforms”

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 9 December 2013

10 December 2013 Leave a comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 9 December 2013 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams ( 25′ 53″  )

This week:

  • The political ramifications of Nelson Mandela’s death and the NZ delegation travelling to South Africa,
  • the Green Party’s new policy for the Meridian share float,
  • and leadership changes within New Zealand’s smaller political parties.

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The Vote, Electricity, and Sex! (That’ll grab your attention!)

18 June 2013 6 comments

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TV3 The Vote  18 June

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Question: How would it feel to be pregnant?

Answer: No idea. I’m not a woman.

Question: How would it feel to be a billionaire?

Answer: No idea. I’ve never had that kind of wealth.

Question: How would it feel to be intellectually handicapped through foetal alcohol syndrome.

Answer: No idea. I’m not intellectually handicapped, nor affected by foetal alcohol syndrome.

Question: How would it feel to be in a warzone, as a combatant, killing people?

Answer: No idea. I’ve never been in a warzone, as a combatant, killing people.

Yet, TV3 is asking viewers – many of whom are reasonably well-off, comfortable, secure, well-fed, warm,  middle class families – to understand the effects that long-term, ingrained poverty has on families?

The question tomorrow (19 June) will be;

Our kids – The problem’s not poverty, it’s parenting. Do you agree?

It a ludicrous question, of course.  Those who’ve never experienced poverty have little idea what it’s really like.

What is even more stomach-turning is that the debating team that supports the Question – that The problem’s not poverty, it’s parenting – are these following characters,

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The Vote - Bob McCoskrie

Bob McCoskrie

Bob McCoskrie has a background in teaching and accounting, having graduated from Auckland University in 1986 with a Masters of Commerce with Honours, and a Diploma in Teaching from the Auckland College of Education. He lectured in accounting, taxation, and commercial law at Manukau Polytechnic for four years, before becoming Director of Youth for Christ (YFC) South Auckland in 1990. In 1994, he set up the Papatoetoe Adolescent Christian Trust (PACT) working with at-risk youth and their families in schools and the South Auckland community. In 1996 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace. In 2002, he joined the Rhema Broadcasting Group as Breakfast / Talkback Host on their nationwide programme, and Television presenter on their Current Affairs show “NZone Focus”.In 2006 he left RBG to establish the advocacy and research organization Family First (NZ) and is its National Director. Bob is married to Tina, and they have three children.

The Vote - Hannah Tamaki

Hannah Tamaki

Hannah is the co-founder of Destiny Churches New Zealand with her husband, Bishop Brian Tamaki. The church movement possesses one of the largest Maori memberships in the country. In addition to being a grandmother of 10 adoring grandchildren, Hannah’s role involves senior level leadership as well as ground-floor mentoring and counselling with families requirement spiritual and practical input and guidance. Besides running a very successful and well attended women’s ministry, Hannah founded Healing Hands Trust which assists women and their whanau with acute medical conditions requiring urgent surgery, and she has played a lead role in establishing a school and early childhood centre. Hannah’s unwavering passion for people is evident in everything she puts her hands to.

The Vote - Christine Rankin

Christine Rankin

Christine Rankin is a former Families Commissioner, CEO of the ‘For Sake of Our Children Trust’ and has recently taken up the position of CEO of the Conservative Party. Christine was on a Domestic Purposes Benefit and had no University Degree before taking on a temporary job with the Department of Social Welfare in 1978. By 1998 she had worked her way to the top, becoming the youngest director in the country. She was later appointed General Manager and then Chief Executive of Work and Income New Zealand, responsible for around 5500 staff. Christine is committed to the well-being of children and is renowned as a speaker on leadership, culture change and political/social issues, as well as sharing her own story of making it against the odds.

Acknowledegment: TV3 – The Vote

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Why are three middle class, affluent, well-resourced, high-income earning individuals pontificating about the effects of poverty on this country’s poorest people? What the hell would they know?

It’s like having men debating the effects of pregnancy and/or abortion on women’s bodies and minds.

It’s like having white anglo-saxons denying the existance of racism.

And really, none of those three are in any position to moralise.

One is an advocate of beating children and is openly homophobic.

Another has grown bloated-rich on the backs of her poor (often Maori) congregation.

And the last – well, I’ll keep my knowledge of the “Ear-ringed One’s” past proclivities to myself.

The question is utterly meaningless in the wider context, and the “Yes/No” nature denies the complexities of the problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”).

For what it’s worth (admittedlynot much), we’ll be voting a firm,

‘No’

Text 3665.

Or, vote on-line.

If only to show that there is more to this than playing the ‘blame-game’.

As for Rankin, Tamaki, and McCoskie – I don’t expect much from them except tediously-repeated prejudice, rhetoric, and stereotyping.

Prove me wrong, you three.

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Labour promises to cut power prices

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NBR - Power authority head attacks Greens-Labour electricity plan

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Industry critics shocked by chairman's report

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Electricity Authority Chairman, Brent Layton, was a National Party appointment, in October 2010.

Hardly surprising then, that the Nats would prompt him to try to condemn Labour-Greens “NZ Power” single buyer desk.

Unfortunately, Layton cannot ignore the fact the electricity prices have soared since Max Bradford’s “reforms” – by over 75% – and he has done nothing to alleviate price rises.

Ministry of Economic Development (MED) statistics show average power prices rose from 13.9 cents per kilowatt-hour on average in May 2001 to 26 cents in May 2011.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Power prices double over decade

Low and middle-income families have been the ones paying higher and higher prices – whilst industry and commercial users have had cheaper tariffs. The reality is that, we, the public, have been subsidising business. (On top of which,  electricity costs for business are tax-deductible – unlike for residential users.)

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MED domestic business electricity prices

Acknowledgement: Ministry of Economic Development (MED) – Prices

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The MED graph above is fairly crystal clear.

So much for Layton’s scare-mongering  bullshit – some of which was published on the right-wing publication, the NBR (National Business Review).

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electricity - Electricity Authority - NZ Power - rising power prices

Brent Layton – scare-mongering for his National mates?

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Grey Power is 100% when they state;

“We can argue about the reports and validity of the data but everyone knows electricity prices have continued to rise at an alarming rate over the last decade, and the profits of the electricity sector have been far in excess of what is reasonable and in some cases quite obscene.”

As such Layton, as a government mouth-piece and cadre for the “market”, is part of the problem.

This consumer can hardly wait for NZ Power to come online. It can be funded by getting rid of the useless Electricity Authority – and sacking Layton.

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Sex report slams Kiwi lessons

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Sex report slams Kiwi lessons

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On the issue of  Bob McCroskie and his ultra-conservative, right-wing group, Family First, they have released a report called “R18: Sexuality Education in New Zealand – A Critical Review”.

The report criticises sex education in New Zealand, with the author, United States psychiatrist Dr Miriam Grossman, stating,

A premise of modern sex education is that young people have the right to make their own decisions about sexual activity, and no judging is allowed. Risky behaviours are normalised and even celebrated. Children and adolescents are introduced to sexual activities their parents would prefer they not even know about, let alone practice. It’s reasonable to ask: is the ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ foisted on young people all over the world about sexual health, or sexual licence?

While most of these resources claim to promote sexual health, we find, overall, little encouragement of restraint or self-discipline. Instead, students are informed that at any age, sexual freedom is a ‘right.

The information is not accurate, comprehensive, or up-to-date. Sex is seen as risky only when it’s ‘unprotected’. The efficacy of condoms is overstated, in some cases vastly so. The quantitative data about their use is absent. The vulnerability of the immature cervix and the hazards of anal intercourse are omitted. Chlamydia is incorrectly described as ‘easily cured’. Young people are led to believe that sex is easily divorced from emotional attachment. Worst of all, critical life and death information is distorted or ignored.

Students are left misinformed, and with a false sense of security. Surely this is the last thing parents want.

Acknowledgement: Scoop – Sex Ed Preaches Sexual Licence, Not Sexual Health

The Scoop press release issued by Family First describes Dr Miriam Grossman thusly,

“Miriam Grossman MD is known internationally for her courage in breaking ranks and calling foul on the sexuality education industry. She has lectured at the British House of Lords and the United Nations. Dr Grossman is board certified in psychiatry and in the sub-specialty of child and adolescent psychiatry. Dr Grossman visited New Zealand last year.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

So who is Dr Miriam Grossman? And why has she provided an anti-sex education report for the ultra-conservative Family First?

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Dr Miriam Grossman - anti-sex education, ultra-conservative

Dr Miriam Grossman – anti-sex education, ultra-conservative

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Because Dr Miriam Grossman herself is an  anti-sex education, ultra-conservative.

Without re-writing what has already been written about this person, instead I will quote from GayNZ. Their comments mirror mine precisely,

For a change, Grossman isn’t a fundamentalist Protestant or conservative Catholic- although she is a religious social conservative, namely an Orthodox Jew. It should be noted that not all Orthodox Jews subscribe to co-belligerency with the Christian Right, wary of the troubled fundamentalist and Catholic pasts insofar as anti-Semitism is concerned. However, Grosssman doesn’t fall into that category- she is a regular guest of US Christian Right organisations like Focus on the Family and participates within the World Congress of Families, a US Christian Right-centred international networking annual conference, to be held in Madrid in May 2012 this year.

And as one might guess, the “World Congress of Families” is fixated on a narrow range of religious social conservative obsessions- opposition to feminism, opposition to LGBT legislative reform, opposition to abortion rights, opposition to comprehensive sex education and nothing that really affects real families all that much. According to the March 2012, our own beloved Family First isn’t a ‘partner’ like notorious antigay organisations Americans for “Truth” about Homosexuality, Focus on the Family and Family Research Council (US), Christian Concern (UK), Endeavour Forum and the Australian Family Association (Australia), REAL Women (Canada), Human Life International and Tradition Family and Property.

Grossman’s forte is attacking comprehensive sexuality organisation as produced by mainstream evidence-based organisations like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and our own Family Planning Association. This involves indoctrinating young women with propaganda about STIs and psychological stresses involved with initiating and maintaining sexual relationships, while neglecting important correlates like self-esteem education and information about contraception. These ‘fear-based curricula’ don’t actually prevent teenagers from having sex, and they do lack information about how to protect oneself from HIV/AIDS and STI through condoms and other forms of contraception. Needless to say, Grossman toes the religious social conservative party line when it comes to homosexuality too- on the basis of extremely biased ‘evidence’ from the exgay NARTH organisation, she argues that sexual orientation can be easily modified. She herself is associated with the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, a US antifeminist research organisation. People For the American Way has excellent articles on insight into their agenda on their website, which provide useful rebuttals of the ‘science’ involved.

It’s easy to speculate what sort of ‘research’ will be cited at this event. We are supposed to be blinded by the fact that Grossman has professional qualifications without asking whether her particular opinion is congruent with evidence-based research and practise from mainstream professional opinion and practise. Whenever one encounters religious social conservative professionals, one is met with badly designed ‘research’ methods and practise, selective citation or distortion of others research if it contradicts religious social conservative dogma and ‘cherry picking’ of selective data sets compared to a wider body of research that shows some inconvenient conclusions that refute their case. In two words, junk ‘science’

No wonder Family First invited her to their Forum. I would also hazard a guess that her involvement suggests that Family First may be becoming increasingly dependent on the US Christian Right and its Canadian, British and Australian satellites for its survival in terms of propaganda, tactics and strategy. I could only count four fundamentalist small business donors for the Forum this year- Business and Tax Advisors, FetchALamp, Pharmabrokers and Leaning Options. Obviously, the recession is biting deep into their pool of available donors, judging from the meagre nature of this list. Family First is also actively involved in propagandising for one of her books, of which there are two, published by conservative US imprints Regnery and Sentinel.

How convenient to be so forewarned.

Acknowledgement: GayNZ – Who is Miriam Grossman?

Dr Miriam Grossman, Family First, and Bob McCoskrie – all advocating that when it comes to sex education, ignorance is bliss.

And McCoskrie is appearing on Third Degree The Vote, tomorrow night, debating against the concept of poverty’s affect on children?

More ignorance is bliss no doubt.

Other blogs

Ideologically Impure: Dr Miriam Grossman: when you want some fear-mongering in your sex ed

Frogblog: Family First gets it wrong on sexuality education also

Herstory: Dr Miriam Grossman, lies, bent truths, and irresponsible medicine

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Electricity Authority Chairman, Brent Layton, was a National Party appointment. Electricity Authority Chairman, Brent Layton, was a National Party appointment.Hardly surprising then, that the Nats would prompt him to try to condemn Labour-Greens “NZ Power” single buyer desk.Unfortunately, Layton cannot ignore the fact the electricity prices have soared since Max Bradford’s “reforms” – by over 75% – and he has done nothing to alleviate price rises. Low and middle-income families have been the ones paying higher and higher prices – whilst industry and commercial users have had cheaper tariffs. As such, we, the public, have been subsidising business.As such, Gre Power is 100% when they state; “”We can argue about the reports and validity of the data but everyone knows electricity prices have continued to rise at an alarming rate over the last decade, and the profits of the electricity sector have been far in excess of what is reasonable and in some cases quite obscene.”As such Layton, as a government mouth-piece , is part of the problem.This consumer can hardly wait for NZ Power to come online. It can be funded by getting rid of the useless Electricity Authority and sacking Layton.Hardly surprising then, that the Nats would prompt him to try to condemn Labour-Greens “NZ Power” single buyer desk.Unfortunately, Layton cannot ignore the fact the electricity prices have soared since Max Bradford’s “reforms” – by over 75% – and he has done nothing to alleviate price rises. Low and middle-income families have been the ones paying higher and higher prices – whilst industry and commercial users have had cheaper tariffs. As such, we, the public, have been subsidising business.As such, Gre Power is 100% when they state; “”We can argue about the reports and validity of the data but everyone knows electricity prices have continued to rise at an alarming rate over the last decade, and the profits of the electricity sector have been far in excess of what is reasonable and in some cases quite obscene.”As such Layton, as a government mouth-piece , is part of the problem.This consumer can hardly wait for NZ Power to come online. It can be funded by getting rid of the useless Electricity Authority and sacking Layton.

Shock News: Roy Morgan predicting change in government!!!

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Red Green Up

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A current shock Roy Morgan poll predicts a  change in government, if the results are carried through to the next general election.

The poll results are as follows;

National: 41% (down 3%)

Labour: 35% (up 3%)

Greens: 12%  (unchanged)

NZ First: 4.5% (down 0.5%)

Conservative Party: 2.5% (up 1%)

Maori Party: 2% (unchanged)

ACT:  0.5% (down 1%)

United Future: 0.5% (unchanged)

Mana Party: 0.5% (down 0.5%)

A Labour-Green Bloc together would win 47%  of the Party Vote – beating National’s 41%.

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Latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll

Acknowledgment: Roy Morgan

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What makes this poll stand out above recent television and Fairfax-IPSOS polls are;

  1. The poll results appear more realistic in terms in terms of negative public sentiment to National’s policies,
  2. Roy Morgan polling has been more consistent,
  3. The polling takes into account respondents contacted via cellphone – a major criticism of other polls which only contact landlines.
  4. The figure of 41% echoes a comment made by National Party supporter and right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooten, on Citizen A on 16 May.

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The fact that polling is including respondents who may rely solely  cellphones gives Roy Morgan an added advantage over other pollsters, who only call land-lines.

As Statistics NZ tabulates it’s recent census data, we will soon have a better understanding of how many households rely solely on cellphones, with an absence of landlines. (See related blogpost: Census, Surveys, and Cellphones)

As well, note Matthew’s comment at 27.15, where he says,

“The impact of gay marriage. The private polling by the major parties shows both National and Labour sharply down. National in one private poll has a poll number with a ‘3’ in front of it…”

His ‘slip’ (?) and reference  to “a poll number with a ‘3’ in front of it” backs up Roy Morgan’s poll results perfectly.

The National Party hierarchy must be fully aware that the TV and Fairfax polls are inflated and unrealistic. Which is one reason why the Nats recently ‘caved’ to public pressure and implemented a restricted ‘Claytons‘   food-in-schools programme.

National’s support of State provision for  feeding children came as a bizarre  after-thought to the main Budget, and it could only have occurred if massive public pressure had been brought to bear. This kind of socialised service provision does not come naturally to a right wing Party like National.

Keep an eye on future Roy Morgan polls.

We are witnessing the inexorable decline of one government – as the next,  government-in-waiting, prepares to take the reins.

However, one Big Question remains: what will a new, left-wing, Labour-Green government do, once in power? For a further viewpoint on this vexing issue, read Morgan Godfery’s blogpost; What the left can learn from Lusk.

Do we unpick and wind back neo-liberalism? Or should we be content merely to ‘contain’ it?

NZ Power was a good start and received favourable support from the electorate. But that is only a start.

After thirty years of failed neo-liberalism, and with around 270,00 children living in poverty, there is much work to do.

The rebuild of Christchurch is under way.

The re-build of New Zealand is yet to begin.

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Previous related blogposts

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones

References

Roy Morgan Poll 29 May 2013

Citizen A 16 May 2013

Other blogposts

What the left can learn from Lusk

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It’s Official, The Sky Will Fall – Phil O’Reilly

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The sky is falling

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As the rightwing and their business foot-soldiers are continuing their mad panic (or more accurately, their mad attempts to panic the public) over the Labour-Green proposal for a single electricity buyer-desk, aka, NZ Power – the public have moved on.

Not that the right wing have noticed. Their fear-campaign is still cranking out all manner of garbage to strike the Fear Of Mammon into the hearts and minds of the Great Unwashed Masses.

Chief executive of BusinessNZ, Phil O’Reilly, had this op-ed piece published yesterday (30 April);

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NZ Power - electricity - Greens - Labour -  lower power electricity prices

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – More competition good for power sector

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After only the first paragraph, O’Reilly launches into a list of dire sky-is-falling list of Doomsday scenarios;

  1. Price controls harm investment.”
  2. New Zealand is dependent on overseas investment. Without it, home mortgages would become more expensive and harder to get…”
  3. New Zealand is dependent on overseas investment. Without it …  and more expensive to get investment to grow businesses and create jobs.”
  4. History shows that in places with price controls – the former Soviet Union, Venezuela, North Korea, or New Zealand under the Muldoon wage and price controls – the result is capital flight, run-down industries and poorer populations.”
  5. This threat also almost immediately destroyed millions of dollars of value built up by small investors in the NZ Superannuation Fund, KiwiSaver and private power companies.”
  6. Electricity prices must take into account the cost of building new generators – if they didn’t, we’d find the lights would go out the moment we exceeded our capacity.”

O’Reilly left out terrorist attacks, alien invasion, and God striking us down with thunderbolts.

Some of his rhetoric is so bizarre that you have to wonder if O’Reilly actually believes his own BS. Take for example this remark,

Electricity prices rise because a growing population and growing economy bring growing demand for power, and growth in demand requires investment in new generation plant, which is large-scale, long-lived and expensive to build.

Acknowledgment: IBID

O’Reilly then goes on to claim,

Much of the 64 per cent price rise under Labour resulted from interventionist policies.”

Acknowledgment: IBID

So if I have this straight; according to Mr O’Reilly, “Much of the 64 per cent price rise under Labour” is due toa growing population and growing economy bring growing demand for power”?!

Because that’s what he is implying;  growing population + economy = 64% in electricity price rises.

That’s utter bullshit.

The population of New Zealand grew from 3.8 million in January 2000 to our current 4.4 million. (See:   Trading Economics – New Zealand Population) That’s an increase of 600,000 – 15.8% (hopefully my math is correct on this calculation).  Somewhat short of the 64% that O’Reilly quotes.

As for suggesting that New Zealand’s economy grew by 64% during Labour’s term in office – as much as every left-winger  would love to acknowledge that – no. There has never been that degree of growth in New Zealand between 2000/08 or even 2000/13. Or any other decades;

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NZ GDP 2000 - 2008

Acknowledgment: Trading Economics – GDP Growth Rate

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After all the fear-mongering and name-calling, the only word left to describe O’Reilly’s piece is; laughable. His assertions are derisable; his “facts” are dubious and unsupported by evidence (ie; he’s made it up); and his fear-threat of more expensive mortages is  bogey-man stuff.

It may come as a shock to Mr O’Reilly – but whilst some of the public can be gullible, we are not that thick.

Nor do we willingly believe absurd claims like this,

Electricity prices must take into account the cost of building new generators – if they didn’t, we’d find the lights would go out the moment we exceeded our capacity.”

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – More competition good for power sector

Yes, we have had power cuts in the past. Usually due to low water storage in the dams; transmission line failure; or other equipment break-downs or shut-down for maintenance.

But let’s not forget the our entire past electricity generation infra-structure, such as Manapouri, Benmore,  Clyde Dam, etc,  were the  result of State  interventionist investment in energy infra-structure.

None of it was built by private enterprise in response to “consumer demand”. Private investment has been a relatively recent advent, such as Contact Energy’s Te Mihi development – a project, by the way that was under-taken during  Labour’s administration. (See: Te Mihi Power Station)

New Zealand has built up it’s energy infra-structure. We can do it again, when required. We most certainly did not rely on private enterprise.

But these are all “inconvenient facts” that the Right refuse to deal with – or even acknowledge. Right wingers like O’Reilly tend to re-write history in an Orwellian fashion, to suit their neo-liberal agenda.

Well, you can fool some of the people some of the time…

The associated poll with O’Reilly’s op-ed piece is hardly scientific, but as an indicator, it shows that people are waking up to the biggest con of the last thirty years of New Right “reforms”,

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More competition good for power sector  (2)

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Nearly two-thirds think that cheaper electricity is “about time”.

Just over a third want to “stick to what we’ve got”. Bloody National supporters – thick as two planks.

Well, I have a perfect solution to the demands for both groups;

  • Those 60.6% who want cheaper power can sign up to NZ Power, and recieve cheaper electricity through a single-desk buyer.
  • The remainder, 34.8%, can keep buying their electricity at “market” rates; paying whatever their powerco demands from them.

Both groups are catered for.

Those who want it, will get cheaper power.

National supporters (and we know who you are, you very thilly, thilly people) can keep getting gouged.

Choice is good, eh?

I’m happy.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 3 May 2013.

Choice for everyone, eh?

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*

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Additional

NZ Herald:  Lid blown on power price rort (3 Feb 2013)

NZ Herald:  The 30-year power price hike (3 Feb 2013)

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= fs =

The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Wha

new zealand high electricity prices

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Continued from: The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Toru

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First NZ

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As Chris Trotter pointed out in his excellent blogpost just recently,

ONLY STEVEN JOYCE could offer up JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital,  and Forsyth Barr as credible critics of the Labour-Greens’ energy policy. As if these six financial institutions were ever likely to offer the Opposition parties their fulsome support!.”

Acknowledgement: The Daily Blog – No Dog In The Fight: Whatever happened To Academic Expertise?

We can add to the above list; AMP Capital, Morningstar Research, BusinessNZ, and Federated Farmers – all of which appear to be the front-line foot-mercenary-soldiers in National’s counter-attack to the Labour-Green’s NZ Power.

Minister of the Known Universe, Steven Joyce’s actual comment was,

Financial analysts including JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital, Devon Funds Management and Forsyth Barr are unanimous in their condemnation. One has labelled it a ‘hand grenade’ to the New Zealand economy, while others have said it will cut the value of every New Zealanders’ KiwiSaver account and lead to rolling blackouts. ”

Acknowledgement: Scoop –  Labour-Greens Power ‘Plan’ Economic Sabotage

Rolling blackouts“?!

He left out a plague of locusts and rivers turning into blood (though with farm run-offs, these days it’s more like Rivers of  Excrement).

We’ve had power black-outs in the past, due to dry weather; equipment failure; shut-downs for maintenance; human error; etc. And we will continue to have unavoidable power cuts, in the future;

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Damaging gales forecast for north 5.5.2013

Acknowledgement: NZ Radio – Damaging gales forecast for north

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Joyce added,

Kiwis are deeply suspicious about the Labour-Greens announcement and its timing. It’s simply economic sabotage. ”

Hmmm, considering the high value of the New Zealand dollar’s destructive effects on our manufacturing/export sector and the 40,000 jobs that’s been lost in the last four years – if I were Joyce, I would not be too keen to bandy about charges of “economic sabotage”. National’s policies in the last few years have been more than effective in that regard,

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Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high dollar

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high dollar

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It’s hardly surprising that most of the negative response has been from the financial markets and commercial firms. They are the ones with the naked vested interests.

To date, the following fear-threats have been thrown at the New Zealand public – because make no mistake, these  doomsday scenarios are directed at voters, and not Labour or the Greens.

Perhaps the most outrageous claims – or outright lies – came from share broking company, First NZ,

“Despite the alleged “excessive price increase in the 13 years since 2000 we are not convinced the system is broken. If it isn’t, then it doesn’t need fixing.

Since 2008, the “real” rate of increase (net of line charges) has slowed even further to 0.5 per cent per annum. Your writer knows for a fact he is paying less for electricity today than three years ago.

Our modelling assumes 11.6 per cent residential tariff increases over the next four years, however net of line charges this reduces to 3.2 per cent over four years.

We believe the Opposition’s desire for a 10 per cent reduction in power prices can mostly be achieved through the current market without the need for a complex and costly change of market structure.”

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald –  Power price cuts coming anyway, says First NZ

In another document, First NZ made the extraordinary claim,

“Despite the alleged “excessive” price increases in the 13 years since 2000 we are not convinced the system is broken. We estimate that, net of line charges and after allowing for inflation, residential electricity prices have risen 2.6% since 2000.

Acknowledgement:  First NZ – Contact Energy – If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

Hold on.

Is First NZ is really telling the public that power prices have only risen 2.6% since  2000?!?! Well, they do qualify that with “net of line charges and after allowing for inflation”. Though why they would omit line charges seems pointless; the public are still paying at the end.  “Clipping the ticket” seems the norm and impacts on the end-consumer regardless of how it is done.

Which also raises a question in my mind;  why is First NZ making this assertion only now? Why did they not make the effort to rebut National’s claims when Dear Leader issued public statements like this, on 27 January, 2011,

“In the nine years Labour was in government, power prices went up 72 per cent and the Government owned 100 per cent of the assets.”

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald – Power price fears if Govt stakes go

Why did First NZ not issue public statements ‘correcting’ National’s “misrepresentations” at the time?

Why have they left it only till now, to counter the assertion that “power prices went up 72%”?

Why is a single-buyer desk for electricity sending brokerage firms into a panic? Especially, considering, that we already have single buyer-desk’s in the form of Fonterra, Zespri, PHARMAC, etc.

The answer, I submit, is fairly obvious. First NZ’s fanciful statements and assertions are part of an orchestrated litany of bullshit to scare Joe & Jane Public to run back into the cold, dead arms of Nanny Neoliberal.

The Financial Money Men, with their Federated Farmers allies, are propping up their neo-liberal stooges in Parliament. The rats are out of the woodwork, and we can see who is lined up against the best interests of the public.

Because, in the final analysis, this all boils down to money – who makes it and who gets to keep it. And because so much money is at stake, we are told that rising power bills is the price for living in a “free” market.

We’re also promised that power prices will drop. Sometime. In the future.

We just have to be patient.

Maybe another thirty years?

It will be interesting if people buy into this propaganda BS.  Will voters believe the fear-mongering campaign from the money-pushers?

Or will they realise that share brokers and merchant bankers are  interested only in seeing that power prices remain at stratospheric levels, to provide maximum returns for their shareholders?

Because one thing is as certain as the sun rising tomorrow; these firms are not remotely interested in our welfare. Nor in the welfare of Kiwi families being gouged with higher and higher power bills.

I’m struck senseless that so many National supporters believe  that siding with the likes of JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital, Devon Funds Management,  Forsyth Barr, Business NZ, Federated Farmers, et al, will somehow gain them some kind of  ‘benefit’. Are National supporters so masochistic and blinded by their faith in the “free market” that they are willing to tolerate  paying higher and higher prices for electricity?

I hope they realise that JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital, Devon Funds Management,  Forsyth Barr, Business NZ, Federated Farmers, et al, will not pay the power bills for National supporters.

Good luck with that!

The Labour-Green coalition should welcome these attacks as an opportunity. Every time one of these money-pushing firms launches a critical attack on NZ Power – the Labour-Greens should counter with press conferences where facts, stats,   and more details are presented for the public and nice, big, colourful  graphic-charts presented.

Like this one, from the Ministry of Economic Development/Business, Innovation, and Employment;

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Ministry of Economic Development - Power Prices 1974 - 2011

Acknowledgement: Ministry of Economic Development/Business, Innovation, and Employment – Power Prices

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(Note price drop around 1999. Whilst Industrial and Commercial prices fell, residential prices continued to rise. There is more to explain the 1998/99 price fall here;  Statistic NZ –  Electricity consumption. It had little to do with Bradford’s reforms, and more to do with competing retailers changing their  methods of calculation for the CPI electricity price index and building extra generation capacity. The cost of the latter had shifted from the State and onto domestic consumers.)

Where possible, David Parker and Russell Norman should  speak at engagements around the country at public meetings. (Community newspapers and other local media should be engaged, as they love anything that happens within their community.)

Invite others such as  the Salvation Army, and experts such as energy-sector expert, Molly Melhuish, and Victoria University researcher Geoff Bertram, should be invited to address media events.

Invite members of the public; families, etc,  to present their power bills as evidence of skyrocketing prices.

Build a Broad Front of support. Show the country that there is support for NZ Power.

People want reassurance. We need to give it to them. And we need to show them why the National and the  finance sector are working in cahoots.

Because ain’t it funny that no community organisation has come out, demanding that the electricity sector remain unregulated and welcoming higher and higher prices?

And if the media aren’t presenting the full story, use progressive blogs to publish the information. We, too, can be  “foot soldiers” in this struggle. (Because surprise, surprise,  we too, use electricity.)

This is a war between the Neo Liberal Establishment and Progressive forces fighting to roll back thirty years of  a failed experiment.

That war began on 18 April.

There is no reason on Earth why we should not win.

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NZ First

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I find it hard to trust  NZ First. Or, to be more precise; I find it hard to trust it’s leader, Winston Peters.

His parliamentary colleagues; party members; and supporters – I have no problem with. They are people who, generally, want the best for this country and dislike the false religion of neo-liberalism as deeply as those on the Left do.

But Peters…

Peters has ‘form’. He has changed direction  on numerous occassions, and I find it hard to take him at his word.

Some examples…

1.

In 1996, Winston Peters campaigned to defeat the National Government and remove it from power. His campaign statements at that time seemed unequivocal;

Jim Anderton: Is the member going into a coalition with National?

Winston Peters: Oh no we are not.” – Parliamentary Hansards, P14147, 20 August 1996

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There is only one party that can beat National in this election that that is New Zealand First.” – Winston Peters, 69 & 85 minutes into First Holmes Leaders Debate, TVNZ, 10 September 1996

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Of course I am not keen on National. Who is?

… This is a government bereft of economic and social performance  [so] that they are now arguing for stability.” – Winston Peters, Evening Post, 25 June 1996

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The prospects are that National will not win this election, that they will not form part of any post-election coalition.” – Winston Peters, The Dominion, 5 October 1996

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It is clear that this National government will use every means at its disposal to secure power… Come October 12…  Two months ago I warned that the National Party would use every trick and device at their command to to retain their Treasury seats.” – Winston Peters speech to Invercargill Grey Power, 26 August 1996

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The Prime Minister [Jim Bolger] is not fit for the job and come 12 October he will be out. He should not get on his phone and call me like he did last time, because we are not interested in political, quisling  behaviour. We are not into State treachery.” – Winston Peters, Parliamentary Hansards, P14146, 20 August 1996

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We believe the kind of politician depicted by Bolger, Birch, and Shipley is not to be promoted into Cabinet. As a consequence we will not have any truck with these three people.” – Winston Peters, NZ Herald, 22 July 1996

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We are a party that says what we mean and mean what we say, regardless of the political consequences.” – Winston Peters, Speech to public meeting, 9 October 1996

Despite Peters’ assurances,  on  11 December 1996  the public woke up to this nightmare,

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2.

In 1996, one of the biggest election issues was the sale of  Forestry Corporation of New Zealand Ltd (cutting rights only,  not the land). In 1996, the then Bolger-led National government had announced it’s intention to privatise the SOE,

In 1996, the Minister of Finance announced the government’s intention to sell its shares in the Forestry Corporation of New Zealand (formerly Timberlands Bay of Plenty). The corporation’s assets were Crown Forestry Licences to planted forests, which had expanded to 188 000 ha in the central region of North Island, processing plants in various locations, a nursery and a seed orchard.

A handful of large forestry companies and consortia submitted bids. The sole criterion was price. However, as the strength of the bids was not as great as hoped, bidders were asked to resubmit their bids. In August 1996, it was announced that the Forestry Corporation of New Zealand had been sold to a consortium led by Fletcher Challenge in a deal that valued the assets at $NZ 2 026 million.

Acknowledgement:  Devolving forest ownership through privatization in New Zealand

The sale went ahead and the  final sale-price was $1,600,000, to a consortium made up of  Fletcher Challenge Forests (37.5%), Brierley Investments Ltd (25%) and Citifor Inc (37.5%).

Acknowledgement:  Treasury – Income from State Asset Sales as at 30 September 1999

Throughout 1996, Winston Peters engaged in an election campaign to “hand back the cheque” should he and his Party be elected into a position of power,

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Forests Buy back signalled - Evening Post - 13 August 1996

Acknowledgement: (hard copy only): Evening Post, 13 August 1996

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the Game plan - what we're all playing for - Eveni ng Post - 2 October 1996

Acknowledgement: (hard copy only): Evening Post, 2 October 1996

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To quote  Peters, who said on 13 August 1996,

I ask both the Labour and Alliance parties – putting politics aside for  this one day – to join New Zealand First in it’s post-election pledge to reverse the sales process“.

As many who lived through the times will recall, Peters pledged to “hand back the cheque”. It was a powerful message.

But it never happened.

Peters joined in coalition with National  (consigning Labour and The Alliance into Opposition) and the pledge to buy back the forests was dropped – much to the disgust of people at the time..

Sixteen years later, and Peters has made the same promise all over again.  On TV3′s The Nation, on 24 June 2012,  Winston Peters stated,

 “The market needs to know that Winston Peters and a future government is going to take back  those assets. By that I mean pay no greater price than their first offering price. This is, if they transfer to seven or eight people, it doesn’t matter, we’ll pay the first price or less. ”

Acknowledgement: TV 3 – The Nation

On 4 March this year (2013), Peters announced,

New Zealand First will use its influence on the next coalition Government to buy back our state-owned power companies which are being flogged off by National and we are committed to buying back the shares at no greater price than paid by the first purchaser.”

Acknowledgement: Scoop – One More Quisling Moment from Key

Another quote from Winston Peters, who  said in a speech to the NZ First Conference,  in 1999,

All the policies and manifestos in the world are meaningless when you cannot trust the leadership. That is what leadership is about – trust. Nobody expects leadership to be infallible. But you have a right to expect it to be trustworthy.”

Acknowledgement: (hard copy only):  Speech by Rt Hon Winston Peters to the New Zealand First Conference, 18 July 1999, at the Eden Park Conference Centre

Indeed; “All the policies and manifestos in the world are meaningless when you cannot trust the leadership.”

If Peters and NZ First hold the balance of power in 2014 and choose to enter into a coalition arrangement with National – will he carry out his pledge this time?

Or will that promise be dropped and buried for political expediency and some babbled, weak excuse?

It’s happened once, before. And not too long ago.

Can he be trusted for a second time?

I am of  the belief that folks can learn from their mistakes. God knows I’m made a few in my early adulthood.

Has Winston Peters learned to honour his electoral pledges and not to treat the voting public as fools? Has he learned that he betrays voters at his peril? I hope so.

Because the public exacted a fitting response to his behaviour in 2008, as he and his Party were punished and spent three years in the political wilderness (see;  New Zealand general election, 2008).

More than ever, the future of this country – and the power –  is in our hands,

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NZ Power Shearer Norman

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Residents Vote In Mana By-Election

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Don’t screw up this time, Mr Peters.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 May 2013.

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*

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Previous Related Blogposts

History Lesson – Tahi – Electricity Sector “reforms”  (4 March 2012)

John Key: Man of Many Principles (28 Sept 2012)

Labour, Greens, NZ First, & Mana – A Bright Idea with electricity! (10 March 2013)

Additional Sources

Statistics New Zealand: The history of electricity reform

Ministry of Economic Development: Electricity Prices

NZ History Online:  Dancing Cossacks political TV ad

The Treasury: Income from State Asset Sales as at 30 September 1999

References

NZPA: Splitting up ECNZ expected to cut wholesale power price (16 Dec 1998)

NZPA:  Reforms aimed at business – Luxton (21 April 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Power Prices Set To Soar (12 May 1999)

Otago Daily Times: No case for regulation (24 May 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Lower power prices coming says Bradford (3 June 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Power prices to rise by up to 15.1% (29 June 1999)

Otago Daily Times:  Reforms blamed for hike (13 July 1999)

Scoop: Alliance to hold Winston Peters accountable (8 Oct 1999)

NZ Herald: Peters ‘forgets’ NZ First support for power reforms (13 Aug 2008)

Fairfax: Government to seek inquiry into power price rise  (30 September 2008)

NZ Herald:  Put prices on hold, Brownlee tells power companies (21  May 2009)

NZ Herald: Mighty River directors’ 73pc pay rise realistic – Key (5 April 2013)

Scoop:  Labour-Greens to rip up the book on electricity pricing (18 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  Labour-Greens plan could work, says Vector CEO (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  National gobsmacked at Labour idea (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald: Power plan likened to Soviet era (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald: MRP chief slams socialist’ plan (21 April 2013)

TVNZ:  Q+A – Transcript of Steven Joyce interview (21 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  Bernard Hickey: Power barons fail to fool the public this time around (21 April 2013)

Radio NZ: Power prices nearly double since 2000 (21 April 2013)

Other blogs

Kiwiblog: Electricity Prices

Tumeke: MANA threaten overseas investors not to buy assets – Bloomberg pick up on the story

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The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Toru

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new zealand high electricity prices

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Continued from: The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Rua

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On a more Positive Note

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With all the scare-mongering from some quarters (National, right wing blogs, conservative media commentators), and naked threats of economic sabotage (JB Weir, Brian Gaynor, etc), there have been commentators with a more positive, up-beat assessment of the Green-Labour proposal for NZ Power.

Bernard Hickey wrote,

“But sometimes the sheer size of the profits becomes so obvious that it invites a backlash. The National Government realised the power-consuming public was nearing the end of its tether in 2008, so it acted to force more competition with its 2009 sector review and the very successful “Whatsmynumber”. It helped increase the switching rate over the past couple of years towards 20 per cent. Annual residential power price inflation halved from 8 per cent in the decade from 1998 to 2008 to 4 per cent since then.

But it is still running at quadruple the general inflation rate and it’s clear that “competition” hasn’t worked to reduce or even restrain power prices for voters, as opposed to businesses.

[…]

The SOE sales programme changed all that. It proposed handing those super profits to the richest New Zealanders in the form of shares and dividends.

That was the moment the Government and the industry crossed that red line and triggered the regulatory backlash promised this week by Labour and the Greens.”

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald – Bernard Hickey: Power barons fail to fool the public this time around

Vector chief executive, Simon Mackenzie, seemed to agree,

The electricity policy announced by the Labour and Green parties could be made to work and the current debate is overly emotive, says the chief executive of the regulated monopoly electricity and gas network owner, Vector.

Simon Mackenzie told BusinessDesk he was encouraged by the fact the proposed central purchaser system would incentivise commercially rational investment in energy efficiency, and that the Opposition parties were not pursuing direct subsidies.

He also welcomed the fact Labour was proposing to simplify regulation of lines companies, which has become enmeshed in the courts after policies Labour implemented was “not tracking as was intended,” Mackenzie said.

There was “no perfect model” for electricity systems, and other countries used similar methods to set prices and to procure investment in new power plants as demand rises. At present, new generation is procured by competing generators identifying the “next least-cost” of new generation and deciding to build it.

[…]

“The model is used in other jurisdictions. It has its pros and cons. It’s made to work.”

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald – Labour-Greens plan could work, says Vector CEO

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Inevitable Conclusions

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1. The term “Government-in-Waiting” is well known.

But there is a corollary to this concept.

The Green-Labour policy has not only put National on the “back foot” with the audacious nature of the plan – but has placed National Ministers – from John Key up – into a ‘No Man’s Land’ of a Government-in-Opposition role.

National finds itself faced with a policy that is so novel; so unforeseen; that their initial reactions were indignant splutterings of “North Korean school of politics”; candles; brown-outs; “United Soviet Socialist Republic of New Zealand” [sic]; threats of economic collapse; economic “sabotage”, and other doomsday scenarios.

The responses could be likened to the indignant temper-tantrums of a teenager who has been used to getting things all his/her life – and was suddenly being brought to heel by exasperated parents.

Key has said he never wants to be in Opposition again,

“I don’t think it suits me as a person. I’m not a negative person and a lot of Opposition is negative.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election

Well, that is precisely where he now finds himself: the new quasi-Opposition in Parliament. The Green-Labour coalition is setting the agenda, and National can only react,

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Labour-Greens plan forces government to suspend MightyRiverPower offer, amend documents

Acknowledgement:  Sharechat – Labour-Greens plan forces government to suspend MightyRiverPower offer, amend documents

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2. On 20 April,  Labour finance spokesperson, David Parker, told  TV3′s The Nation,

It’s not like the money disappears from the economy, just that people have more money in their pockets. Instead of spending it on inflated power prices, they’re spending it somewhere else in the economy.”

Which is pretty much the rationale that National used to justify it’s fiscally irresponsible tax cuts in 2009 and 2010,

“In the short term, National’s tax package will give households confidence and some cash in their back pockets to keep the economy going and to pay down debt.”

Acknowledgement: National – Economy/Tax Policy

3. If New Zealanders could tick National in 2008 for their promised tax cuts (in 2009 and 2010, despite being unaffordable and demanding massive borrowings to fund) – then I’m sure as hell confident they’ll be ticking Labour and/or Green in 2014 (if not earlier) for cheaper electricity.

There is nothing as easy to sell to voters than giving them what was theirs in the first place. That applies equally, whether tax dollars or electricity.

Unlike the academic nature of who owns our State Assets – which for the poor underclasses means very little – everyone can understand a very simple concept of cheaper power.

Consider if those 800,000 missing-in-action,  non-voters were asked the simple question; do you want cheaper electricity?

If the answer is “yes” – they need only tick the box for Labour and/or Greens.

For the Nats: game over.

Continued at: The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Wha

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 April 2013.

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Previous Related Blogposts

History Lesson – Tahi – Electricity Sector “reforms”  (4 March 2012)

John Key: Man of Many Principles (28 Sept 2012)

Labour, Greens, NZ First, & Mana – A Bright Idea with electricity! (10 March 2013)

References

NZ History Online:  Dancing Cossacks political TV ad

NZPA: Splitting up ECNZ expected to cut wholesale power price (16 Dec 1998)

NZPA:  Reforms aimed at business – Luxton (21 April 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Power Prices Set To Soar (12 May 1999)

Otago Daily Times: No case for regulation (24 May 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Lower power prices coming says Bradford (3 June 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Power prices to rise by up to 15.1% (29 June 1999)

Otago Daily Times:  Reforms blamed for hike (13 July 1999)

Scoop: Alliance to hold Winston Peters accountable (8 Oct 1999)

NZ Herald: Peters ‘forgets’ NZ First support for power reforms (13 Aug 2008)

Fairfax: Government to seek inquiry into power price rise  (30 September 2008)

NZ Herald:  Put prices on hold, Brownlee tells power companies (21  May 2009)

NZ Herald: Mighty River directors’ 73pc pay rise realistic – Key (5 April 2013)

Scoop:  Labour-Greens to rip up the book on electricity pricing (18 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  Labour-Greens plan could work, says Vector CEO (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  National gobsmacked at Labour idea (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald: Power plan likened to Soviet era (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald: MRP chief slams socialist’ plan (21 April 2013)

TVNZ:  Q+A – Transcript of Steven Joyce interview (21 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  Bernard Hickey: Power barons fail to fool the public this time around (21 April 2013)

Radio NZ: Power prices nearly double since 2000 (21 April 2013)

Other blogs

Robert Guyton: Murray Kerr on MRP

Kiwiblog: Electricity Prices

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The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Rua

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new zealand high electricity prices

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Continued from: The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Tahi

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Evidently, the sky will fall if New Zealand proceeds with Labour-Green’s NZ Power proposal…

The four Donkeys of the Fiscal Apocalypse

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  1. Lack of New Infra-structure – The argument goes that without massive profits, state owned powercos will not have sufficient funds to pay for new power production or to maintain transmission lines. Really?! In which case, how on earth did we ever build up this country’s energy infra-struction in the first place???
  2. Brown Outs – We’ve been told we’ll have brown outs (see Collin’s Tweet above).  Really?! It beggars belief how we ever got out of bed in the mornings and tied our shoelaces, prior to to introduction of neo-liberalism. What a hopeless lot we must’ve been.
  3. Share Falls – Yes, the sharemarket will fall if  the NZ Power propopsal goes ahead. In fact, they’ve already dropped (see:  Power shares keep falling). So what people like Nick Lewis, an analyst at Wellington-based brokers Woodward Partners, is telling us is that the sharemarket is dependent on the New Zealand public held to ransom by way of exorbitant power pricing? We’re subsiding the sharemarket?  I wonder what reaction the share market might have if competition really worked, and drove down power prices???
  4. Investors abandoning NZ – Yes, for a while, the jittery bastards at Boston, Beijing, or Berlin  might panic and withdraw investment funds. For about half-a-f*****g second. Then they will get over themselves and return to invest elsewhere in our economy. Such as green technology in power production – technology which can be exported overseas for a tidy profit.

The fear-mongering from National, business, conservative media commentators, and other assorted right-wing nutjobs, assumes that New Zealanders are little children who are easily frightened by shadows.

We are not (much).

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Max Bradford and That ‘Dip’

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After Bradford’s reforms, power prices went north, skyrocketing by a jaw-dropping 87%  since 2000. If food had increased that much since 2000, there’d be wide-spread starvation in this country. And wide-spread rioting that would make the 2010 London riots pale by comparison.

Bradford, though, has insisted that his “reforms” would have worked, had the new  Labour government not ‘tinkered’ with them in the early 2000s. On TV3′s “The Nation“, on 21 April, Bradford stated,

“When the competive market was allowed to work, prices fell. And, ah, between 1998 and 2002, before Labour started fiddling with the market, prices did fall. So if you let the competitive market work,  then prices will either rise more slowly than  otherise they would, or  they fall. ”

Acknowledgement:  TV3 – The Nation

On Kiwiblog, David Farrar kindly provided a graph, attempting to support  Bradford’s claims,

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Electricity-Prices-1982-2012 - ex kiwiblog

Acknowledgement:  Kiwiblog/Stats NZ

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The graph is even helpfully marked with a black line and labelled “Bradford Reforms”, between 1997 and 1998.

Unfortunately, this in itself is not quite correct.  Despite Bradford’s Electricity Industry Reform Act 1998  taking effect in mid-1998,  the electricity sector  reforms did not fully take effect until April 1999, when Contact Energy was privatised and ECNZ was split in three; Mighty River Power, Meridian, and Genesis.

In the same year – 1999 – power prices surged (see:  Power prices to rise by up to 15.1%, see; Reforms blamed for hike), as Farrar’s own graph shows  with crystal clarity.

But then, curiously, there is a considerable dip in 2000 and 2001, followed by  a sharp, massive series of rises thereafter.

So, what happened in 2000 and 2001?

The Asian Crisis is what happened, folks.

As then-governor of the RBNZ, Don Brash reported,

“In July 1997 the Thai baht fell sharply, triggering a period of turbulence in the financial markets of East Asia. Many currencies declined p re c i p i t o u s l y, along with share markets and real estate prices.

The banking sectors of the countries most affected were severely damaged, and real economic activity fell, in some cases sharply, for the first time in decades. The direct effect on the New Zealand economy was adverse and substantial, and looks likely to continue for some time. The indirect effect, through business and household sector confidence, was also significant. The impact of the Asian situation reduced inflationary p re s s u res in New Zealand markedly.

[…]

Inflationary pressures had been slowing for some time previously, so that as far back as December 1996 monetary policy began to ease in response. Then late in 1997 and into 1998 the Asian financial crisis added to the slow-down, as growth prospects in many Asian economies, including Japan, deteriorated (see box 2). In December 1997, when easing monetary policy further, the Bank cited the likely impact of the Asian crisis on the New Zealand economy, and noted that the disinflationary impact of that crisis could become markedly worse. During 1998, this happened, and in response monetary policy was eased more aggressively still.

[…]

For New Zealand, reduced exports to the region, which previously accounted for 36% of our merchandise exports, had a negative impact on economic activity. The likely effects of the crisis were a particular focus in each of the Bank’s quarterly Monetary Policy Statements from December 1997 onwards. In the Reserve Bank’s March 1998 projections, we judged that the severity of the crisis was being underestimated by many observers. As a result the Reserve Bank eased monetary policy by more than New Zealand markets had expected.”

Acknowledgement:  – Don Brash, Reserve Bank of New Zealand Annual Report 1997-1998

Here is the NZ Reserve Bank chart of economic growth, measuring Real Gross Domestic  Product (GDP), from 1990 to 2012,

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reserve bank of nz real gross domestic product 1990_2012

Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Real Gross Domestic  Product, 8 January 2013

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Note  the RBNZ statement, from the above  January 2013 report,

Following the 1998 “Asian crisis” New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”) recovered strongly. Annual GDP growth from 2001 through to 2004 (on average) exceeded that of its major trading partners, partly as a result of strong net inward migration and associated population growth.

 

Acknowledgement: IBID

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Now let’s compare the period from 1997 to 2002, on both graphs,

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RBNZ - GDP - electricity prices

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A closer look at the 1997 – 2002 period,

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NZ GDP annual growth rate Jan 1997 - Jan 2002

Acknowledgement: Trading Economics/Stats NZ – New Zealand GDP Growth Rate

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Aside from a “dead cat” bounce in the Third Quarter of 1999, the  correlation between economic activity and power prices is self-evident. The drop in electricity prices in 2000 and 2001 followed a slump in economic activity in Asia, and it’s subsequent global flow-on effects.

As PBS Frontline reported,

The Asian financial crisis that was triggered in July 1997 was a shocker. Even two years after it ended, anxiety still loomed over global financial markets. What was at the time perceived to be a localized currency and financial crisis in Thailand, soon spread to other Southeast Asian countries–including Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

By the fall of 1997, the contagion extended its reach to South Korea, Hong Kong and China.  A global financial meltdown had been ignited. In 1998, Russia and Brazil saw their economies enter a free-fall, and international stock markets, from New York to Tokyo, hit record lows as investors’ confidence was shaken by the volatility and unpredictability in the world’s financial markets.

Acknowledgement: PBS – Timeline of the Crash

As the Reserve Bank stated above, “annual GDP growth from 2001 through to 2004 (on average) exceeded that of its major trading partners” – and 2001 is when power prices started to rise again.

Also worthy of attention is  that the electricity CPI also drops in 2009 and 2011, during the latest Global Financial Crisis and resulting Great Recession.

Unfortunately, for reasons of their own (but which we can guess at), Mr Farrar and his National Party friends fail to point out this salient fact. The Right will mis-represent facts and re-write history to suit their own  narrowly-defined ideological agenda.

Labour-Green’s NZ Power is a threat to that ideologically-based agenda.

Continued at: The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Toru

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 April 2013.

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Previous Related Blogposts

History Lesson – Tahi – Electricity Sector “reforms”  (4 March 2012)

John Key: Man of Many Principles (28 Sept 2012)

Labour, Greens, NZ First, & Mana – A Bright Idea with electricity! (10 March 2013)

References

NZ History Online:  Dancing Cossacks political TV ad

NZPA: Splitting up ECNZ expected to cut wholesale power price (16 Dec 1998)

NZPA:  Reforms aimed at business – Luxton (21 April 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Power Prices Set To Soar (12 May 1999)

Otago Daily Times: No case for regulation (24 May 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Lower power prices coming says Bradford (3 June 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Power prices to rise by up to 15.1% (29 June 1999)

Otago Daily Times:  Reforms blamed for hike (13 July 1999)

Scoop: Alliance to hold Winston Peters accountable (8 Oct 1999)

NZ Herald: Peters ‘forgets’ NZ First support for power reforms (13 Aug 2008)

Fairfax: Government to seek inquiry into power price rise  (30 September 2008)

NZ Herald:  Put prices on hold, Brownlee tells power companies (21  May 2009)

NZ Herald: Mighty River directors’ 73pc pay rise realistic – Key (5 April 2013)

Scoop:  Labour-Greens to rip up the book on electricity pricing (18 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  Labour-Greens plan could work, says Vector CEO (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  National gobsmacked at Labour idea (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald: Power plan likened to Soviet era (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald: MRP chief slams socialist’ plan (21 April 2013)

TVNZ:  Q+A – Transcript of Steven Joyce interview (21 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  Bernard Hickey: Power barons fail to fool the public this time around (21 April 2013)

Radio NZ: Power prices nearly double since 2000 (21 April 2013)

Other blogs

Kiwiblog: Electricity Prices

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The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Tahi

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new zealand high electricity prices

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Historical Background

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New Zealanders, by and large, are not stupid.

We can recognise a rort when we see it. And in the case of electricity prices, we see it on a regular basis in our power bills and media headlines,

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2008

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Government to seek inquiry into power price rise - 2008

Acknowledgement: Fairfax: Government to seek inquiry into power price rise

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2009

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More profit than power for state-owned energy companies - 2009

Acknowledgement:  NBR – More profit than power for state-owned energy companies

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2010

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High spot prices hint at power price rise - 2010

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – High spot prices hint at power price rise

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2011

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Power bills set to rise up to 8pc from March - 2011

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald- Power bills set to rise up to 8pc from March

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2012

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Electricity prices tipped to rise steeply - 2012

Acknowledgement:  Fairfax Media –  Electricity prices tipped to rise steeply

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2013

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Power prices rise by average $120 nationwide - 2013

Acknowledgement:  TVNZ –  Power prices rise by average $120 nationwide

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We all know the facts and figures by now,

None of Bradford’s promises came to fruition and on 27 November 1999, Bradford lost his Rotorua seat to Labour’s Stephanie Chadwick (see: Rotorua – New Zealand electorate).

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A Bold New Plan

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On 18 April, Labour and the Greens announced a bold new policy initiative to reign in escalating power price rises. Called NZ Power, the reform would work thusly,

Key to the proposals is the creation of a central buying and electricity system planning agency, dubbed NZ Power, which would drive down power prices because of its market power and would not be required to make a profit.

It would also be the market regulator.

“It will not just supervise the market, it will be actively involved,” said Labour’s finance spokesman David Parker, a Minister of Energy in the 1999 to 2008 Labour-led administration.

It would tender for new electricity generation, or potentially energy efficiency measures, rather than the current crop of generators competing to identify the next least costly unit of new generation when demand rises.

In some cases, industrial users would be able to contract directly with NZ Power.

Power prices would be set not by reference to the cost of the next new unit of generation, but by average costs that include the anticipated price of new generation. However, there would still be a traded market in wholesale electricity, which could reflect regional variations.

Acknowledgement: Scoop –  Labour-Greens to rip up the book on electricity pricing

This new plan was the confirmation (if any was needed) that National’s grand experiment in privatisation and “competition” in the electricity sector was not working. Only  fools  (mostly those posting on right-wing, pro-National Kiwiblog) could possibly argue that the current system was “succeeding”.

In fact, even as far back as May 2009, National Minister Gerry Brownlee demanded that power generators put price rises on hold. He stated,

There is something fundamentally wrong in the way in which we’re marketing electricity in New Zealand.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald –  Put prices on hold, Brownlee tells power companies

And even the architect of this ill-conceived “reform”, Max Bradford, was reported in May 1999 in the media as planning to regulate electricity line charges,

Enterprise  and Commerce minister  Max Bradford  is to press ahead with regulations to control electricity line charges, but sees no reason to implement regulation in the competitive end of the market.

Acknowledgement: Otago Daily Times – No case for regulation

So even National ministers reluctantly concede that the electricity sector cannot work in an unregulated “freemarket” model, and is unable  to deliver the ‘golden fruits’ of de-regulation and so-called competition.

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Carping & Criticisms

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After the press conference on 18 April, criticism flew thick and fast from National ministers; right wing bloggers;  pro-National sycophantic elements of the media, and their ideologically-wedded fellow-travellers.

On Steven Joyce’s twitter account,

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Steven Joyce - Tweet - NZ Power - soviet style nationalisation

Source: Twitter/Steven Joyce

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Judith “Crusher” Collins added this bit of gratuitous fantasy-fear mongering,

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Judith Collins - Tweet - NZ Power - soviet style nationalisation

Source: Twitter/IBID

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From Simon Bridges, this little bit of muppetry,

They may want to return to sort of United Soviet Socialist Republic of New Zealand days but National certainly doesn’t.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Power plan likened to Soviet era

It was  actually the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Mr Bridges, not “United” Soviet Socialist Republic. Get your Evil Empires  right, mate.

And anyway, most of New Zealand’s centralised planning occurred during National’s administration, from 1975 to 1984, under the late Robert Muldoon. Remember the price/wage freeze?

Mighty River Power chief executive Doug Heffernan, also called the plan “socialist” (by the way, is that a bad thing?) He declared,

“What you’ve just described is a socialist consumer model.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – MRP chief slams socialist’ plan

To which I would point out to the reader,

  1. Heffernan benefits from a $1.49 million p.a. salary – whilst Mighty River Power keeps raising it’s power prices. So the gentleman has a vested interest in this issue.
  2. In February this year, Heffernan announced that Mighty River Power’s half-yearly profit has quadrupled; prices had risen by 2%; despite demand “being flat”. (see:  Mighty River Power profit quadruples )
  3. Saying that “Mighty River Power would not have made the $1billion investment into geothermal energy that we’ve made in the last five years … The risks would have been too high” – insults our intelligence.  Mighty River Power was built up by the State, with taxpayers’ money.  Heffernan forgets himself; MRP is not a private company.
  4. And anyway,  is it the role of  SOE chief executives to be promoting privatisation?

Steven Joyce added to the “red menace scare”on TVNZ’s Q+A on 21 April,

“By definition, it’s socialism.

“They are not just talking about the price, they’re talking about telling the generators when they can generate, which generating assets they can use, which ones they can introduce to the markets.”

The Minister said the proposed plan would also scare off investors, with evidence of this seen late last week when the market dropped.

“On Thursday and Friday, the market dropped nearly $600 million across three companies because they said, ‘Jeez, we’re not interested in this’.”

Which is rather strange… Joyce, Bridges, Collins, Key, et al, are likening Labour-Green’s plans to “North Korean economics” or “Soviet style socialism”.

But when did the former USSR or the current North Korea ever have a share market or multi-party Parliamentaty democracy?!?!

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hyperbole will sink legislation

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Could it possibly be that National ministers have no intellectual, rational response  to the proposed NZ Power scheme?

Could it be that they must rely on fear-mongering?  Which reminds me of this,

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dancing cossacks - national fear mongering

Acknowledgement: NZ History Online:  Dancing Cossacks political TV ad

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Could it possibly be that National ministers are placing their faith in free market economics – vis-a-vis the partial sale of state powercos – to get prices to drop? (Which, after 14 years is yet to happen for the domestic consumer.)

Could it be that National ministers are… panicking?!

Because as NZ Herald columnist, John Armstrong wrote on 19 April,

“There may be good reasons for the seemingly constant above-inflation hikes in retail prices. But politicians have given up explaining because consumers long ago stopped listening.

All this would suggest there is fertile ground for Labour and the Greens, who yesterday foreshadowed plans to slash power prices by setting up a new agency, NZ Power, to act as a single buyer of wholesale electricity.

National was truly gobsmacked. It accused Labour of “Muldoonism”, “loony tunes” policy making and “North Korean economics”.

National accepts that at the outset there might be lower prices. But it argues the policy would distort price signals that are so vital to matching supply and demand. That could lead to power shortages. The policy would distort and even discourage investment in power generation.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald:  National gobsmacked at Labour idea

Gobsmacked” is about right.

And ironically enough, “Muldoonism” was a product of the National Party – not Labour. Hilarious stuff, indeed!

This is nothing less than a full-scale retreat from market-driven political orthodoxy. In effect, Labour has done the unthinkable; it has publicly announced that neo-liberalism and it’s supposed “free” market economics does not, and cannot,  deliver all of society’s needs.

We get a glimpse  of what it must have been like in 1989 when Mikhail Gorbachev sat down with his colleagues in the Soviet Politburo and announced to a stunned meeting,

Comrades, our communist ideology and centralised economic system has failed.”

Mark 18 April 2013 on your calendar as the day that one of our two main Parties (or, two out of our three main Parties, if  Green political support keeps increasing) renounced neo-liberal free market ideology as a failure.

There is now a clear, unequivocal difference between an increasingly  right wing, ideologically-driven  National, and a decidely more-leftist – but  pragmatic – Labour.

And the public now has a clear choice as well, for whom to vote;

Option A (for the Blue Team): maintain the neo-liberal status quo; proceed with privatisation; and hope-like-hell  that Max Bradford’s promises eventually, maybe, one day, will  come true.

Option B (for the Red Team): vote for change; abandon our slavish adherence to neo-liberal dogma; and, as a side-effect, enjoy cheaper power bills.

Continued at: The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Rua

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 24 April 2013.

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Previous Related Blogposts

History Lesson – Tahi – Electricity Sector “reforms”  (4 March 2012)

John Key: Man of Many Principles (28 Sept 2012)

Labour, Greens, NZ First, & Mana – A Bright Idea with electricity! (10 March 2013)

References

NZ History Online:  Dancing Cossacks political TV ad

NZPA: Splitting up ECNZ expected to cut wholesale power price (16 Dec 1998)

NZPA:  Reforms aimed at business – Luxton (21 April 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Power Prices Set To Soar (12 May 1999)

Otago Daily Times: No case for regulation (24 May 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Lower power prices coming says Bradford (3 June 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Power prices to rise by up to 15.1% (29 June 1999)

Otago Daily Times:  Reforms blamed for hike (13 July 1999)

Scoop: Alliance to hold Winston Peters accountable (8 Oct 1999)

NZ Herald: Peters ‘forgets’ NZ First support for power reforms (13 Aug 2008)

Fairfax: Government to seek inquiry into power price rise  (30 September 2008)

NZ Herald:  Put prices on hold, Brownlee tells power companies (21  May 2009)

NZ Herald: Mighty River directors’ 73pc pay rise realistic – Key (5 April 2013)

Scoop:  Labour-Greens to rip up the book on electricity pricing (18 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  Labour-Greens plan could work, says Vector CEO (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  National gobsmacked at Labour idea (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald: Power plan likened to Soviet era (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald: MRP chief slams socialist’ plan (21 April 2013)

TVNZ:  Q+A – Transcript of Steven Joyce interview (21 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  Bernard Hickey: Power barons fail to fool the public this time around (21 April 2013)

Radio NZ: Power prices nearly double since 2000 (21 April 2013)

Other blogs

Kiwiblog: Electricity Prices

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Do National Party supporters prefer higher electricity prices?

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quill

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A letter to the editor from an obvious National Party supporter, published in the Dominion Post, on 30 April,

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The body language says it all

I wouldn’t mind betting that it was the Greenies who hatched the power price policy stunt and the Labourites who swallowed it, hook, line and sinker. The body language at the announcement was telling. Though this matter was under discussion for some time, the announcement’s timing was pure coincidence, so they said. Pull the other one. The announcement of this economic sabotage was timed to create maximum confusion in the market. Methinks the perpetrators underestimate the populace’s intelligence. This stunt, if it were ever implemented, will have serious consequences throughout the economy, including power outages and higher taxes. It can’t be compared to Pharmac. New Zealanders can tell a red herring when they see one and this red herring might yet turn and bite its parents.

MARTIN STERN

Karori

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My  response, emailed to the editor, today,

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from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:     Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date:     Wed, May 1, 2013 at 10:54 AM
subject:     Letters to the Editor

Martin Stern rails against the Labour-Green proposal for NZ Power,  a single-buyer desk for electricity, which would bulk-buy from generators and sell at a cheaper rate to domestic consumers.

Why is  Mr Stern  opposed to cheaper electricity – when commercial users have enjoyed cheaper power since 2000 – subsidised by domestic users?

Instead of railing against “Greenies” and fear-mongering with silly references to “economic sabotage” – he should ask why power prices are still rising for domestic users when  the wholesale electricity price was  at $73 per MWh,  less than the $131/MWh  last year?

His idolisation and concern for  “the market” is misplaced. Instead of a knee-jerk reaction to anything/everything Green and Labour, and actually understood that he might benefit from  a single-buyer desk for electricity – he might be less inclined to pointless jingoism.

Does Mr Stern  really think that big business;  electricity oligopolies; share broking firms; and merchant bankers are as concerned for his well-being as he is for theirs?

Mr Stern sez this cannot be likened to Pharmac. Why not? Can it be likened to other single buyer-desks such as Fonterra and Zespri?

Funny how it seems to work for business – yet Mr Stern would deny the same purchasing power for domestic users.

-Frank Macskasy

(address & phone number supplied)

Isn’t it amazing that National Party supporters are so wedded to their political tribalism that they’d rather pay for higher power prices than challenge the existing system?

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Blogger lays complaint with Commerce Commission – *UP-DATE*

30 April 2013 5 comments

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Continued from: Blogger lays complaint with Commerce Commission

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Commerce commission logo

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On 1 April (not an April Fools Joke) this year, this blogger laid a complaint with the NZ Commerce Commission, regarding National’s dealings with Mighty River Power and Rio Tinto’s Tiwai Pt aluminium smelter.

The complain was as follows,

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Tony Ryall has recently announced that the NZ Government is intervening directly in negotiations between Meridian Energy and Rio Tinto (which is 80% owner of Tiwai Aluminium Smelter).

Mr Ryall has said,

“With this in mind, the Government has been in contact with Pacific Aluminium’s international parent company Rio Tinto this week to discuss helping to bridge the gap in their positions over the short to medium term, if this could be of assistance in concluding an agreement.

“In the meantime, we understand Meridian’s existing contract with Pacific Aluminium remains in place at least until 1 January 2016 with significant financial and other obligations beyond that.”

Ryall added that “all relevant information – including about the smelter electricity contract – will be reflected in the Mighty River Power offer document which is currently being finalised”.

Source: NZ Herald, Govt steps in to sort out stalled Tiwai power deal ( http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10874174)

I therefore submit the following;

(1) This appears to be a prima facie case of the NZ Government manipulating the future stock price of Mighty River Power (and other state owned powercos), by offering a subsidy to Rio Tinto.

(2) This subsidy is not available to any other company nor individual.

(3) As such, I submit that the NZ Government’s intention to subsidise electricity that is provided to Rio Tinto is done with a view to reduce competition in the market.

Specifically, I draw the Commission’s attention to the Commerce Act 1986; sections 27, 30, and related clauses.

(4) Furthermore, I submit that if any other corporation, company, institution, or individual attempted such an act, that they would be deemed to be guilty of price fixing and manipulation of the market.

I await your response and thank you for your consideration of my complaint.

-Frank Macskasy

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Being somewhat naive, I believed that attempting to  instigate events, that would keep the price of shares for a specific company at an inflated value,  would constitute a form of manipulation of  the share market.

Silly me.

What was I thinking?!

The Commerce Commission replied four weeks later,

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from:     Contact <contact@comcom.govt.nz>
to:     “fmacskasy@gmail.com” <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
date:     Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 9:56 AM
subject:     282199 Meridian Energy Limited and the government

Thank you for the information you provided the Commission regarding the Government’s announcement that it will intervene directly in the negotiations between Meridian Energy and Rio Tinto (owners of Tiwai Aluminium Smelter).  You suggest that this intervention would amount to price fixing

 We assessed the information you have provided and we are satisfied that the Commerce Act is unlikely to have been breached in this instance. Although it owns one of the parties to these negotiations, Meridian Energy, the Crown appears to have tried to meditate in this dispute on an “honest broker” basis. As such, the Crown probably would not have been in trade for the purposes of this exercise.

 The above is merely our view that no prima facie breach of the Commerce Act has occurred. Such a view is not a ruling of law, as only the courts can decide whether there is a breach of the Act. The Commission’s decision not to pursue this matter does not prevent an individual from initiating their own action.

 We have closed the file in regard to your complaint enquiry number 282199.

 Yours sincerely

 Katey Salmond

Commerce Commission |Senior Contact Centre Adviser
44 The Terrace |PO Box 2351 |Wellington 6140 |New Zealand
Free phone 0800 943 600 |Fax +64 (04) 924 3700
Follow us on Twitter @NZComCom

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One would have thought that by providing subsidised (cheaper) electricity to Rio Tinto’s aluminium smelter; for a short term period (as Dear Leader has stated:  PM John Key says fresh Mighty River Float detail due on Friday; may include detail on risks around Tiwai Pt closure);  for the purpose of maintaining a high price for Mighty River Power’s shares – would constitute a form of share-market manipulation.

After all, the point of the whole exercise was to maintain Mighty River Power’s share-value. As Key himself pointed out on 2 April,

“But obviously, for the number of people involved, the jobs, the impact on the local community and the impact in the short term on the electricity markets, the government would like to see the orderly exit of the smelter, or a long term agreement between the companies.”

Acknowledgment: Interest.co.nz – PM John Key says fresh Mighty River Float detail due on Friday; may include detail on risks around Tiwai Pt closure

In an ironic side-issue, it’s interesting to note that merchant bankers, share-brokers, Federated Farmers, etc, haven’t raised merry hell on this issue – as they did with the Labour-Green proposal for a single electricity buyer-desk, NZ Power.

I think we can see all manner of vested interests involved here.

Last point, Ms Salmond writes in her 29 April email to me,

The Commission’s decision not to pursue this matter does not prevent an individual from initiating their own action.”

That almost comes across as a sly hint…

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

25 April 2013 7 comments

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

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Editorial - Key should consider MRP sale delay

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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.

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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

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* 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.

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