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The Flag Referendum – A strategy for Calm Resistance

20 July 2015 4 comments

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eight_col_eNZign-NZ-Flag-Richard-Aslett

Richard Aslett’s “eNZign”

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When John Key referred to a referendum as “… a complete and utter waste of money because it’s just about sending a message”, he was not referring to his much-beloved pet-project, the $29 million flag referendum.

He was, in fact, deriding the $9 million asset sale referendum held two years ago, and which resulted in a decisive 67.2% of 1.3 million New Zealanders voting against the government’s asset sales programme. Key was bluntly dismissive of  the asset sales referendum;

“Overall what it basically shows, it was pretty much a political stunt.”

Charming.

Key’s $29 million dollar white-elephant project receives his personal blessing and whole-hearted endorsement;

“In the end you have to say, what price do you put on democracy where people can genuinely have their say on a matter that is actually important? … This is a cost essentially of one of the values that New Zealanders would want to test.

Yes, it’s a one-off cost, but my view would be that if the flag doesn’t change as a result of this referendum process, then it won’t be changing for a good 50 to 100 years, so this is a cost we have to bear.”

– whereas a preceding referenda on a critical economic/political policy was dismissed as irrelevent in the Prime Minister’s grand scheme of things.

Nothing better illustrates the deep contempt which John Key holds the public and democracy than his inconsistent attitudes on these two referenda.

If New Zealanders want to send our esteemed Dear Leader a definitive message, they might recall the decisive message they sent to  the National-NZ First Coalition government in 1997, where  92% rejected Winston Peters’ superannuation scheme.

I offer the following strategy for those voters who are opposed to this referendum;

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The referendum will be carried out in two parts. The first part will be a referendum held in November-December this year to determine which alternative people might prefer;

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flag referendum stage one

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This is the ballot paper to spoil by writing over it your opposition to this referendum. In a written piece entitled “Winston Flags Referendum For Protest“, fellow blogger Curwen Rolinson suggests writing “I support the current flag” on your ballot paper. Or you can create your own appropriate message.

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The second part of the referendum will be held in March next year. This will be the run-off between our  current ‘Stars’n’Jack‘, and an alternative selected from Step 1.

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flag referendum stage two

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This step must not be spoiled. A clear message can still be sent to our esteemed Dear Leader by voting for the status quo, to keep the current flag.

If the alternative is defeated, and the incumbent flag is maintained as the preferred choice, John Key will have been shown to have engaged in a vanity project, and wasting $29 million dollars of taxpayers money in the process.

By this simple strategy, we, the people,  can show the same scorn to Key’s  pet-project as he did to the asset sales referendum in 2013.

Addendum1

Alternative Option 2: If Richard Aslett’s “eNZign” design (see top of page) is selected as the alternative for the March 2016 referendum (highly, highly unlikely) – vote for it. What better “legacy” for Key’s prime ministership than something that looks like the product of an LSD-induced trip?

So not only will $29 million have been wasted, but a “trippy” flag will have been chosen that takes New Zealand back to the psychedelic 1960s.

What better way to give Key the one-fingered salute?

Addendum2

Meanwhile, John Oliver shared his brilliant insights into the flag debate;

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John oliver new zealand flag referendum

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References

Otago Daily Times: Asset sales referendum ‘waste of money’

Fairfax media: Asset sales programme to continue – Key

NZ Herald: John Key defends cost of flag referendums

NZ Govt: Flag Consideration Panel – The flag consideration process

Youtube: John Oliver – New Zealand’s New Flag

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The Pencilsword Flagpole blues

Acknowledgement: Toby Morris, ‘The Wireless

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on  13 July 2015.

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John Key’s government – death by two cuts

3 April 2015 2 comments

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johnkeywerefinished

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With Winston Peters winning the Northland by-election, National’s grip on power has loosened, with one less seat in Parliament.

Before 28 March, National held 60 seats in the House, and with it’s neutered poodles, ACT/David Seymour, and Peter Dunne/United Future, had an overall majority of 62 out of 121.

With Peters’ victory, National’s majority now rests on Peter Dunne, who, on occassion has exhibited an ‘annoying’ streak of quasi-independence from the National Party Politburo.

What has not been examined by the MSM is that should National face another by-election, even Dunne’s support will not be sufficient for National to pass legislation, and reliance on the more independent minded Maori Party would put Key’s administration into an untenable situation.

For example, on TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘ on 29 March – the day after the by-election – the Maori Party’s co-leader Marama Fox outlined her party’s position on social welfare;

Fox: “We now have the opportunity to leverage of this platform; to negotiate every piece of legislation…

… One of the things that we need to ensure is that we can put money in the hands of the people who most need it. If you look at the poverty statistics in this country, the people who are most affected by poverty are families on benefits. And benefits have not risen with the rates of the cost of living in the last thiry years, really, in realistic terms and those people need some relief.”

When Corin Dann asked Ms Fox if she would demand more money from the Finance Minister to increase welfare payments, she replied;

Yes, absolutely.”

This is not something Bill English would want to hear. With National’s Budget surplus this year balanced on a knife’s edge, English has already squashed John Key’s suggestion of a $130 million tax-payer funded bail-out of SkyCity’s convention centre;

There’s no contingency for that. If the less preferred option ended up being the option then that money would be part of the Budget process.

It beggars belief that English would welcome an  increased welfare bill costing many hundreds of times greater than the subsidy proposed for a multi-national casino – though god knows it would go a long way toward alleviating increasing child poverty in this country.

Yet, that is precisely the situation that National now finds itself in. One more by-election loss, and National’s majority in the House would vanish, and Key’s administration would be at the pleasure of the Maori Party.

National’s choice? To abandon right-wing “reforms” and appease the Maori Party’s demands for  increase social spending – or call an early election.

As the General Election in 1984 showed, voters do not appreciate early elections and the governing Party is punished at the ballot box.

So where is National vulnerable to losing by-elections?

The following five National-held electorates have majorities of five thousand or less, and in a major swing away from the government, could potentially fall into the hands of an Opposition Party;

Auckland Central Nikki Kaye 600
Christchurch Central Nicky Wagner 2,420
Maungakiekie Sam Lotu-Iiga 2,348
Waimakariri Matthew Doocey 2,506
Whanganui Chester Borrows 4,505

In addition, there are ten electorate National/ACT MPs with majorities between 5,000 and 9,000 – the latter figure being Mike Sabin’s 2014 electoral majority;

East Coast Anne Tolley 7,934
Epsom* David Seymour* 4,250*
Hamilton West Tim Macindoe 5,784
Invercargill Sarah Dowie 7,482
Nelson Nick Smith 7,605
Ōtaki Nathan Guy 7,782
Papakura Judith Collins 5,119
Rotorua Todd McClay 7,418
Tukituki Craig Foss 6,490
Wairarapa Alastair Scott 6,771

National’s other coalition partner, Peter Dunne, has a slim majority of only 710.

At this point, the National Party politburo and their charismatic, blokey Dear Leader must be praying to every god in the heavens for the health and safety of those sixteen members of Parliament.

Key, English, Joyce, et al, must also wondering if any of their colleagues have any skeletons rattling noisily in their closet? And if so – does Labour or NZ First know about it?

 

* Unreliable majority because of deal-making between ACT and National.

 

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References

TVNZ Q+A: Maori Party Emboldened?

NZCity: English eyes a 2014/15 budget surplus

Interest.co.nz: Finance Minister prefers not to spend taxpayer cash to avoid Sky City ‘eyesore’; no money in Budget 2015 for it

Wikipedia: Northland (New Zealand electorate) – 2014 Election

Previous related blogposts

Northland by-election – a damning poll and a damnable lie?

Letter to the editor – Northland voters have been warned


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 The Nationalmobile

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 30 March 2015.

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A Message to Winston; A Message to John Key; and a Message to the Regions

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NZ First – National Coalition announcement, 11 December 1996

 

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Message to Winston Peters: don’t stuff this one up.

If you get too close to John Key’s government, voters will perceive you as another “satellite” party to National in the same vein as ACT, Peter Dunne, and the Maori Party. None of the three have done particularly well in  elections;

  • ACT won Epsom only at the pleasure of John Key
  • Peter Dunne remains a one-man band – essentially a National-lite clone
  • The Maori Party lost another MP last year, as voters deserted it in droves

Be wary of supporting National’s legislative programme (even with “major” changes).

Be wary of being perceived as being too close to National.

Be extremely wary about throwing National a Parliamentary “life-line” – voters will remember that in 2017 (if not earlier).

How many times can you repeat the same mistake?

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Peters 'sorry' about coalition - NZPA - 14 September 1998

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Message to John Key: a reminder of your warning on 21 September, 2014, about the perils of third-term arrogance creeping into government;

“I won’t be wanting to see any hint of arrogance creeping in.

In a way, having an absolute majority could exacerbate that situation, so I don’t intend to take the party veering off to the right.

One of the big messages I’ll be wanting to give incoming ministers and the caucus is that it is incredibly important that National stays connected with our supporters and connected with the New Zealand public.”

The arrogance from National was demonstrated when they  kept secret the Police investigation of Mike Sabin – prior to last year’s election. It was only four months later that some (but not all) revelations regarding a police investigation became public knowledge and Sabin was forced to resign.

Voters in Northland had good reason to consider they had been deceived – by their own Party-in-power!

National’s further arrogance was again demonstrated when Key flippantly dismissed Peters’ presence in the by-election with his “absolutely zero” chance remark. It is not for government MPs, Ministers, or the Prime Minister to tell voters who has or has no chance of winning an election. That privilege is reserved solely for voters, who make that decision on the ballot paper.

More arrogance when a brace of Ministers suddenly appeared throughout Northland, in taxpayer-funded Ministerial limousines, to prop up their lame-duck candidate. Not exactly a good look for a region racked with poverty, one would have thought?

As  Green Party co-leader, Russel Norman, said,

“It’s pretty extraordinary that National is not only pork barrelling the electorate, but accessing the pork themselves to get themselves around the electorate.”

More important still – why wasn’t this kind of attention bestowed on Northland over the last few decades whenever National was in power? Did they really think citizens would not notice? Really?!?!

The arrogance of National was even more jaw-droppingly breath-taking with it’s blatant electoral bribes of up-grading ten Northland bridges to two lanes; speeding up broadband introduction to the region, etc. Is that how National really perceives voters – that they think we are too thick to recognise the stench of electoral bribes when  shoved under our collective noses?

Then again, the tax cut bribes did work for Key in 2008. (Which, nearly seven years later, we are still paying for.)

And threatening to withdraw one of the bribes, if voters decided not to choose the National candidate – as Key clumsily announced on 13 March – was arrogance cloaked in paternalism. Paternalism is best left to parents with rebellious teenage children. It rarely works on voters.

Five days later there was more arrogance yet, when a National backbencher thought that threatening New Zealand citizens, was a really, really clever idea. It was not, as Shane Reti discovered to his cost. Real Stalinist-stuff. Doesn’t go down well with Kiwis.

Finally – John Key’s most brazen act of arrogance  illustrates how deeply “concerned” he felt  about Northland’s dire economic and social circumstances, and how “greatly”  he supported his own Party’s candidate to win the by-election;

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PM to attend the Cricket World Cup Final

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I’m sure Northlanders are equally delighted to have a new Member of Parliament to represent them.

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Message to the Regions: if New Zealanders living in parts of the country that have missed out on the country’s “rock star economy” feel sufficiently aggrieved, they should do something about it.

As always, the power is in their hands. They have the vote.

Use it.

Northlanders did, and they have just sent National a clear message they will not forget in a very long time.

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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References

NZ Herald:  Election 2014 – Triumphant PM’s strict line with MPs – Don’t get arrogant

Fairfax media: Government’s wall of silence over Mike Sabin

TV3 News: National MP Mike Sabin resigns

TV3 News: Peters launches Northland campaign with ‘The Force’

TV1 News: Taxpayers forking out for ministers limo rides in Northland

Fairfax media: Northland by-election – John Key admits National pulled back on promises

NZ Herald: Nats to borrow for other spending – but not tax cuts

Fairfax media: Nats – Roads in doubt if Winston wins

Radio NZ: Dusty road group claim bullying

Scoop media: PM to attend the Cricket World Cup Final

Previous related blogpost

Teflon Man No More

When the teflon is stripped away

Witnessing the slow decay of a government past it’s Use-By date

Letter to the editor – Northland voters have been warned


 

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planet key

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 March 2015.

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Frank Macskasy: Who I voted for…

18 September 2014 8 comments

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20-september

 

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On the road today, this news story caught my attention;

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Peters backs Davis in Te Tai Tokerau

 

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I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

This is a deliberate attempt by NZ First and elements within the Labour Party to undermine and destroy the Mana-Internet Alliance.

Which is utterly crazy, and beggars belief.

At current polling, if Hone wins his electorate, he could bring in one or two extra MPs on his “coat-tails”. (The rules as set by this National Government.)

If Labour loses to a National-led coalition by that slim margin – two or three seats – and we face another three years of this damnable regime, because of their unmitigated, self-serving, colossal stupidity,  I will be mightily f****d off.

I will hold the Labour leadership responsible.

And, by the gods, I will give them such grief that Slater and Farrar will be the least of their worries.

This little dirty deal between Labour and NZ First has sealed my Party Vote. I encourage everyone to vote, and I offer my personal endorsement for  the Mana-Internet Alliance.

And Winston  Peters, Kelvin Davis, Stuart Nash, et al,  can go kiss my well-padded, hairy [Anatomical description deleted on good taste grounds – Chief Censor, GCSB]!

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References

Radio NZ: Peters backs Davis in Te Tai Tokerau

Previous related blogpost

The secret of National’s success – revealed.

 

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Harre -Harawira

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Winston Peters recycles pledge to “buy back state assets” – where have we heard that before?

31 March 2014 3 comments

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Over the last two years (give or take), NZ First leader, Winston Peters, has stated on numerous occassions that buying back shares in the three energy SOEs (Meridian, Genesis, and Mighty River Power) will be a “bottom line” in any post-election coalition deal.

On 20 June 2012, NZ First posted this statement on their website,

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.

Rt Hon Winston Peters says New Zealand First is committed to buying back the shares at no greater price than paid by the first purchaser.

“State-owned assets rightfully belong to all New Zealanders but National is intent on handing them over to rich foreign investors.

“It is simply lining the pockets of the wealthy by selling off well-performing assets that already provide the Government with extremely healthy dividends.”

Mr Peters says it is only fair to alert potential investors that New Zealand First’s intention to buy back the shares will be part of any coalition negotiations.

“As things stand now, the assets will end up in foreign ownership which is an outright attack on our sovereignty. We are committed to repelling that attack.”

The pledge was repeated on 29 November 2013;

New Zealand First is the only political party that has said since the beginning that if the Government did go ahead with this idiotic decision, then when we are in a position to influence the next Government, we would buy back the shares at a price no more than that initially paid for them.

On ‘The Nation‘, on 15/16 March, interviewed by Patrick Gower, Peters repeated NZ First policy that a share buy-back, at a cost no greater than the original purchase-price, was a bottom line policy for his Party;

Gower: So that means buying Genesis back?

Peters: That’s right. At no greater price than they paid for it.

Gower: And does that mean buying back the other power companies as well?

Peters: It means exactly that. That’s what our position has been for some time.

Gower: So that’s a priority for you in any negotiations?

Peters: It is a priority, and it also has the blessings in terms of economic calculations from Treasury.

Taken at face value, Peters’ committment to buy back shares in the powercos seems more comprehensive and radical than either the Greens or Labour. Neither have committed to buying back shares in Meridian, Genesis, and Mighty River Power until the government books allow it.

But, can Peters’ pledge be taken at face value?

Can he be trusted to make good on his word to (a) make a share buy-back a bottom-line in any coalition deal and (b) actually follow through?

His track record on such matters is not good.

On 27 September 1996,  the then-Bolger-led National government sold the Forestry Corporation of New Zealand Ltd cutting rights to a private  consortium (Fletcher Challenge Forests, 37.5%, Brierley Investments Ltd, 25%, and Chinese state-owned company,  Citifor Inc, 37.5%)

This became a major election issue in  the lead-up to the first MMP election in  1996, with the Alliance organising a CIR petition to halt the sale.

NZ First leader, Winston Peters, pledged to buy back the cutting rights, stating on several occasions that any government he was part of would “hand back the cheque“;

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The game plan - what we're all playing for - NZ First buy back forest corp

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During the election campaign, Peters stated unequivocally his intentions that the privatisation of Forestry Corp would not stand under any government he was part of;

“I want to tell the Chinese buyers and I want to tell Brierleys that they had better not make any long-range plans because the day after the election is over we will be sending them an emissary to them them exactly what is going to happen, that is, that we are going to keep out promise, they can give back the asset and we will give the money back.” – Winston Peters,  Otago Daily Times, 1 Feb 1997 (on pre-election statement/promise)

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http://fmacskasy2.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/otago-daily-times-1-february-1997-winston-peters-asset-sales-forestry-corp-buy-back-hand-back-the-cheque.jpg

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On 11 December 1996, Peters announced that he would be entering into a formal coalition arrangement with the National Party, to form the first MMP coalition government.

Subsequently, Peters’ pledge to “hand back the cheque” and buy back the forestry cutting rights, was ‘quietly’ dropped;

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NZ First ignored chance to implement own policy

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“… NZ First did not make any attempt to include  in the [Coalition] agreement its policy of placing a 24.9% limit on foreign ownership of strategic assets.

Neither did they raise the NZ First promise to buy-back Forestry Corp, which was sold earlier this year to a consortium including Fletcher Challenge.” – Otago Daily Times, 16 Dec 1996

As Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister in the National-NZ First government, Peters had ample opportunity to implement his Party’s buy-back policy. It was a promise he could have kept. And should have kept.

Instead, NZ First opted to implement National’s policy of tax cuts on 1 July 1998. With even more tax cuts promised by then-Finance Minister, Bill Birch.

This was money that Peters could have allocated and spent of re-nationalising our forests – but was instead wasted on cutting taxes, thereby reducing the ability of the coalition government to implement a buy-back, as Winston Peters had promised.

If Peters holds the balance of power after 20 September, and if he forms a coalition with either bloc, he may well carry out his promise to buy back shares in our energy utilities.

Or then again, he might not.

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References

NZ First: NZ First Committed To Buying Back State-Owned Assets

NZ First: Our asset sales buyback promise – Radio Live Column

TV3: Winston Peters: Asset buy-back ‘a priority’

FAO.org:  Devolving Forest Ownership in New Zealand: Processes, Issues and Outcomes

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

Wikipedia: CITIC Group [Citifor]

Wikipedia: Referendums in New Zealand

Otago Daily Times: Alliance quits quest for forestry petition

Otago Daily Times: NZ First ignored chance to implement own policy

Otago Daily Times: NZ First opts for National

Otago Daily Times: Further tax cuts unlikely before next century

NZPA: Birch pledges more tax cuts

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Be careful what you wish for - Key and Peters

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 March 2014.

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 17 March 2014

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 17 March 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Winston Peters and the possible make-up of the next government. Moves to link school funding to performance.

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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 (23′ 51″ )

  • Winston Peters, NZ First
  • Judith Collins, Orivida,
  • Helen Clark
  • Green Party transport policy
  • Hekia Parata, education policy, school fundsing system

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Letter to the Editor: what is a politician’s promise worth?

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FROM: 	"f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the Editor
DATE: 	 Sun, 16 Mar 2014 21:10:15 +1300
TO: 	"Sunday Star Times" letters@star-times.co.nz 

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times

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Winston Peters has pledged that his Party's bottom line is
the re-purchase of all shares in Meridian, Genesis, and
Mighty River Power at "a price no more than that initially
paid for them".

This is stated on NZ First's website, and Peter's reiterated
his pledge on TV3's 'The Nation' on 15/16 March.

I sincerely hope that Mr Peters' promise to buy back the
powerco SOEs fares better than his pledge in 1996, to buy
back Forestry Corp's timber cutting rights. Forestry Corp
was privatised by the Bolger-led National government for
around $1.6 billion to a consortium made up by Fletcher
Challenge Forests, Brierley Investments Ltd,  and Chinese
state-owned company,  Citifor Inc (now known as CITIC
Group).

Peters promised during the 1996 general election;

“I want to tell the Chinese buyers and I want to tell
Brierleys that they had better not make any long-range plans
because the day after the election is over we will be
sending them an emissary to them them exactly what is going
to happen, that is, that we are going to keep out promise,
they can give back the asset and we will give the money
back.”

The buy-back never happened, despite Mr Peters becoming
Treasurer and Deputy PM on 11 December 1996. His pledge
quietly disappeared.

Let's hope the same fate does not befall his pledge to buy
back the powerco shares.

-Frank Macskasy
(address  & phone number supplied)

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Related blogposts

Fool me Once, Shame on you

Winston Peters recycles pledge to “buy back state assets” – where have we heard that before?

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