Asset Sales

April 14th, 2008 at 6:24 am by David Farrar

’s policy on state owned assets for the 2005 election was very mild.  It was for no full sales, and maybe one or two minor part-sales. Something that even Labour has done in Government – sell some minor state assets.

Labour of course would have you believe National plans to sell the roads, the seas, the air and the water, rather than have a rational debate over whether or not the NZ Government needs to own a chain of garages (Vehicle Testing NZ).

And having semi-sucessfully managed a fear campaign in 2005, they were all poised to do so again. For months on end they tried to talk up Auckland Airport as some sort of state asset sale they were stopping when the reality was it has been a privately owned company since Winston sold it in 1998.

So at the Labour Party Congress this weekend, they were all set to start their campaign of fear and loathing on . Yet quietly on Sunday morning on Agenda, took their toys away:

GUYON Alright you rightly point out it was sold by the National government in 1998 now that brings us to this position.  What is your position now as a National Party on state asset sales?

JOHN Well National’s had some time to reflect on that and the position that we’ve decided to have is the following one.  That in the first term of the National government there will be no state assets that will be sold either partially or fully.

GUYON So no state assets, you’re completely firm on that?

JOHN That’s right.

caught on to the wonderful timing:

COLIN ESPINER – Christchurch Press
Mr Key the Prime Minister addressed the Labour Party’s annual congress, the election congress yesterday and one of the things she said was that asset sales were a defining issue for Labour, and a defining issue for the election, you’ve just essentially inoculated that, was that your intention?

and again:

COLIN  Sure, but you’re also avoiding skirting around the issue of asset sales where you’re gonna get clobbered by Labour, and they were warming up, they’ve been warming up on this one for weeks and you’ve essentially ripped the rug from under them haven’t you?

Yes he has.

John Armstrong I think is 100% wrong on this being a fumble, because Key only ruled them out for the first term of office. Far from being a fumble, it was a move of brilliant timing and within a few weeks, the issue will have little resonance with anyone but those who are in no way swinging voters. No party ever gives a guarantee beyond one election, and no-one outside Helen Clark and a few commentators really get excited about what may or many not happen in two elections time.

Now my personal view on asset sales I blogged back in July 2005, and listed 13 SOEs I would happily sell.  But even National under Don Brash was talking at most a partial float of Solid Energy and maybe a few farms.

If you are not going to have a bold asset sale programme (such as I would do), then it is politically stupid to have a 5% programme where you attract all the scaremongering over asset sales, just to allow say a 20% share holding in some coal mines.

So despite personally favouring a bold programme of asset sales, I am delighted that National has shut down Labour’s ability to effectively scare-monger on this issue, because frankly you should either do a bold programme, or do no programme at all. The 2005 Brash policy was so modest, it wasn’t worth the hassle and distraction it would be.

So overall I thought Key did very well on – a very in depth and extended interview. And I say that having been pretty critical of how Key handled the Peters issue the week before.

While I am very relaxed about going from a 5% asset sale policy to a 0% asset sale policy, I am somewhat concerned over the dropping of . Sure, I understand the politics around not provoking the PPTA and NZEI into a full-scale jihad, but if we are serious about lifting our economic game, we need to lift our educational game, and the current way we fund and staff our schools will not achieve that.  Having said no to , the onus is on National to come up with some other ways to improve management and funding of our schools.

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40 Responses to “Asset Sales”

  1. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    So let’s see if I’ve got this right: Labour is so busy finding ‘secret agendas’ elsewhere (and Maryan Street et. al. showing they shouldn’t give up their days jobs because they suck at karaoke stand up) they’ve got no agenda of their own.

    The Hollow Women of the Labour Party strike again.

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  2. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    Armstrong seems to be Helen Clark’s strongest ally in the media at the moment. Far be it from me to suggest that he is recycling 9th Floor “talking points”, but there has been a particular focus to his attacks on Key and his cheerleading for Clark – strangely, ever since Clark took the media to task a few weeks ago. Funny that!

    Meantime, I agree – great strategy for Key. And Armstorng’s hypothesis that it gives Labour a weapon with which to attack Key over his second term plans ignores the obvious – to get a second term, you have to get a first term – is Labour conceding defeat aleadry?

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  3. Duxton (654 comments) says:

    Right on both counts, Craig.

    Talking of secret agendas, Labour needs to come clean on a few of its own. For example, when does it intend to legalise incest (as was proposed by Phil Goff before the last election, and then quietly shelved)?

    And what about lowering the age of consent?

    Gay adoption, anyone?

    And no, its not a thread-jack. The thread is essentially about so-called secret agendas.

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  4. Concerned (41 comments) says:

    ‘whether or not the NZ Government needs to own a chain of garages (Vehicle Testing NZ)’

    Although I very much agree with your other observations in this post, the use of VTNZ isn’t the best example. Many of us prefer to use VTNZ for vehicle inspections since they have nothing to gain from the diagnosis, unlike many garages which then hope to also do the necessary repair work.

    The principle is worth noting because it is one of the major failings of the building consent process where much of the application review work is farmed out to private “consultants” who don’t have an incentive to simplify the process — quite opposite in fact. Building Warrent of Fitness inspections suffer from the same misaligned incentives where the “IQP’s” (Independent Qualified Persons) have every reason to be as pedantic as possible because that’s how they earn their keep.

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  5. Insolent Prick (417 comments) says:

    Michael Cullen has said Labour will cut taxes. Ah, but he hasn’t ruled out raising taxes again in his fifth term! Slippery Michael! Unless Cullen commits to Labour never, ever raising taxes again, it’s clearly his secret agenda.

    And we know what kind of credibility Labour has over its tax package.

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  6. dad4justice (8,238 comments) says:

    “during a closed-door strategy session ”

    Labour scum are secretive, conniving, deceitful and manipulating cretins who work to the feminist and pinko agendas, so they can exploit vulnerable children after they have destroyed the family unit. Helen Klark and her government are evil and rotten to the core and any journalist that sticks up for the wretched filth is not worth the paper that the meaningless rhetoric is printed on.

    Edit ; The negative karma girls are out in force this morning, what’s that fetid fish odour?

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  7. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    While we’re talking about secret agendas, how about this strategy:

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2008/04/labours-plan-to-sidestep-efa.html

    Now tell me again Helen & Annette – who rorts elections?

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  8. radvad (767 comments) says:

    Slippery Helen (“banning smacking goes against human nature” or “I signed it but did not paint it” or “I did not notice how fast they were driving” just for starters) should now be hounded to tell us Labour’s true nationalisation agenda.

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  9. dad4justice (8,238 comments) says:

    Does slippery Helen have a new top of the range slippery John dildo? Now that’s an asset.

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  10. reid (16,509 comments) says:

    Education issues won’t be solved by improving finance and management structures. It will be solved only by reversing the attitude that students have to be protected from competition and by making teaching once again a respected and valued profession so you attract quality people. Part of that is paying them more but that’s only a part and a minor one at that.

    PC psychobbable is more prevalent in education that in any other arena. It is 100% responsible for the issues above and infests not only our schools but also our Universities. It’s a huge job decontamminating those environments, but the scum must be rooted out and to do so you need to use the same tactics they used to emplace it: sophisticated psychology, over generations. Confront the bastards and ridicule them, make them feel as uncomfortable as they themselves made those who resisted their agenda. Don’t accept any aspect of their view as being legitimate. Excoriate PC people and paint them as the anti-social lying manipulative underhand naive destructive scum they are and give evidence as to why when doing so. Publish textbooks that promote healthy competition and eliminate every single PC textbook. Trash NCEA and build a new system based on EARNING merit through competition, and provide “merit” in various aspects, not just academic but sports, manual, artistic, etc.

    Most importantly, and in complete contrast to the PC bastards, publicly pronounce war on PC, and seek public support for the war. Unlike the PC bastards, who did it by stealth, thus exposing themselves as the lying underhand scum they really are.

    National won’t achieve it in its term, but it can make a start. I’ll be watching, but aren’t hopeful.

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  11. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    Will we see the return of the PC Eradicator to National’s cabinet lineup? I can only hope so

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  12. reid (16,509 comments) says:

    Didn’t achieve a heck of a lot last time though did he? Maybe Mapp (it was Mapp wasn’t it?) needs to take some angry pills. Somebody like Gerry Brownlie would be very good.

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  13. tim barclay (886 comments) says:

    National is neither ideologically in favour nor against asset sales. They are state assets and the public would need to give a mandate. If small investors are clambering to invest in state SOEs then the issue can be looked at in due course. Thus far there is no perceived demand.

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  14. Lindsay (148 comments) says:

    Reid, National did declare war on PC. Remember Wayne Mapp, the PC Eradicator? Then it all dissolved as they realised they would be hoisted on their own petard. ACT’s education policy – funding follows the child to a school of choice – would give power back to the parents.

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  15. Paulus (2,632 comments) says:

    I agree that a percentage of some SOE’s should be open to the public and institutional investors.

    With all the KiwiSaver funds becoming available where are these funds to be invested.

    The NZ stockmarket is somewhat flakey currently to say the least but these SOE’s will provide good investments (answerable to all the shareholders). It is too small.

    Why is nobody shouting that the government does not own Auckland Airport. As a small shareholder I am incensed with the disgusting treatment of this issue.

    Roll on the election – it cannot come fast enough.

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  16. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    dpf said..

    “..So overall I thought Key did very well on Agenda -..”

    um..!..i thought the telling feature of that interview was the easy ride the questioners gave him..

    they just allowed key to repeat his lie/spin that ‘labour have not cut any taxes’..several times..

    (this shortly after business taxes fell 3 cents..(!)..w.t.f. is that..?..if not a tax cut.

    and what is working for families..?…)

    and the only subject they talked about/questioned about..was asset sales..(!)

    aside from more political questions..i wanted some questions about this..

    http://whoar.co.nz/2008/bad-news-for-john-keys-former-employerand-his-personal-major-investment-vehiclemerrill-lynch/

    (whoar..!..eh..?.

    just how bad can/will it get..?..for keys’ personal fortune..?…)

    and the laugh out loud moment came from that guy neville(?) from the business rag..

    looking forward to the election..he said..

    ‘the economy may be up and firing again by then..’..(or words to that effect..(!)..)

    give that man a ‘happy/clappy-button’..and a special rendition of ‘happy days are here again!’..

    eh..?

    (and what is it with agenda..?..the show has all the delights/life of a discarded theatre ticket..

    is it too tightly formatted..?..were/are the guest-questioners allowed to do ‘bullshit!’ interjections..?

    or are they forced to just ignore the spin/lies..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  17. reid (16,509 comments) says:

    Perhaps the public doesn’t fully appreciate the issues behind privatisation. Over the years, publicity on the rationale and the benefits has been non-existent, in favour of publicity on the negative outcomes.

    Not helped of course by the fact of the Fay-Richwhite asset-stripping exercise. Why Fay got a gong I’ll never know. My point is, the pros and the cons of the issue haven’t been publically debated, so it’s hardly surprising the current perception is largely negative.

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  18. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    DPF:

    Is there some widget or plug in that will translate Philu-ese (which resembles bad Emo-girl poetry) into English? ;) Still, I can understand why he finds Agenda disorientating — all those people talking in complete sentences for minutes at a stretch must be terrifying.

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  19. siobhan (278 comments) says:

    Does any left wing retard actually understand what a “current account deficit” means for this country?

    Do they realise that if an asset is made public, they like everybody else can easily buy shares and even if they don’t it is likely that their kiwisaver scheme will.

    The scaremongering from labour is only able to occur because their followers have absolutely no understanding of economics – they don’t need to, because the rest of us pay for their existence.

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  20. reid (16,509 comments) says:

    Yeh but Lindsay, Mapp is hardly the dynamic warrior needed to take on the forces of darkness. Successfully fighting PC poison requires passion, astute strategy, unlimited energy and a very thick skin. It didn’t work then, I think, because Mapp wasn’t the man.

    Perhaps if National placed it higher on the agenda in recognition of its genuine destructive power, the next attempt would be successful.

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  21. Pascal (1,969 comments) says:

    philu: and what is working for families.

    A benefit. Next?

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  22. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..Is there some widget or plug in that will translate Philu-ese into English?..”

    two things needed..

    1)..an iq with more than two digits in it….

    2)..a sense of humour..

    and as we all know..all rightwingers all lack number two..

    (over to you..craig..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  23. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..philu: and what is working for families.

    A benefit. Next?..”

    working for families is targeted tax relief by any other name..

    and puts far more in the pockets of those that need it..than the (25-30 bucks a week key/national will be offering..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  24. Pascal (1,969 comments) says:

    philu: working for families is targeted tax relief by any other name.

    No, it is a welfare benefit. You can spin it whichever way you like but it remains a welfare benefit. Nice try though. But I’m surprised that considering you make your living as a beneficiary you’re not able to see the similarities.

    philu: 25-30 bucks a week key/national will be offering

    Interesting. I was not aware you had joined the National Party and were allowed to see their planning documents. But congratulations on making a relatively wise choice.

    Of course, a better choice would have been to go with ACT, but hey – this is you we are talking about.

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  25. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    Mapp would have done plenty if he had been allowed into office as Minister of PC Eradication in 2005. Unfortuntaely the election was stolen.

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  26. dad4justice (8,238 comments) says:

    The ol’ stolen election trick and pc and corruption were the winners on the day. Cullen doesn’t value the mass exodus of kiwi workers.

    Surely Dr Mikey Caustic Kullen- that is asset stripping? Can somebody sell your brain to science as a case study in Utopian smugness.

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  27. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    questions key should have been asked..

    1)..’given your experience in the financial sector..what are the possible/probable scenarios/outcomes you see for us/new zealand..as a result of the global economic meltdown..?..)

    2)..”the differing wage rates between here and australia are often cited as the major factor in our brain-drain to australia..what would you/national (specifically) do to lift our low-wage economy..out of that parlous state..?..

    3)..the environmental markers/signs are dire..as a result of the explosion in dairy farming..and other longterm abuses of our natural resources..

    some 98% of our waterways are polluted..largely from animal faeces..and chemical farm run-off..

    what would you/national do to not only stop this wholesale degradation of our environment..but to attempt to reverse the damage already done..?

    (that’s for starters..and of course..follow-up questions allowed on those three..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  28. jafapete (757 comments) says:

    Inventory, Would Armstrong’s column of 10 April be a good example of “his cheerleading for Clark”? Here’s an extract…

    “National’s deputy leader, having a dream day rubbing the Government’s nose in its badly backfiring Electoral Finance Act, had decided ridicule was the best form of revenge.”

    Perhaps the column on 13 March, which began… “The Prime Minister came to Parliament yesterday wanting to party like it was 1999. Unfortunately for her, it is 2008. She instead sounded like she was doing the Time Warp.”

    No? How about the column of 19 March…

    “Turner suggested that pending event was the reason why the Government’s initial response to the crackdown by the Chinese was to stall.

    “‘Hopefully it will blow over _ they are thinking _ maybe if the People’s Liberation Army can crush the dissension quickly enough we might be able to sneak over to Beijing, sign on the dotted line and still gain the plaudits for being the first country to sign a bilateral free trade agreement with China.’

    “Ouch. But Turner had barely started.

    “The least she had expected was that the Prime Minister would call in the Chinese Ambassador and give him a formal dressing-down. “Or are we so subservient in this relationship that we cannot even do that?” Ouch, ouch.

    “If this deluge was hitting its target, the Prime Minister, crouched over her papers, was trying not to show it.”

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  29. jocko (111 comments) says:

    Related asset sale topic
    Consider the ‘real’ motive behind Parker & Cosgove (and the Labour Govt.) vetoing the Canadian AIAL share purchase against OIO advice.
    Maybe it’s because Canada has recently backed out of its Kyoto commitment….?
    How dare they…..etc.

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  30. gee90 (90 comments) says:

    Come on, this new policy is ridiculous.

    Argue for more private ownership, argue for nationalisation, or argue – as Brian Easton suggested on Morning Report – that each case should be considered on its merits. For example, I would personally strongly defend a public broadcaster, would consider partial sale of Air New Zealand, and couldn’t care less about the gov’t owning farms. But all of this is debatable, as it should be.

    This is a Baby Bear Porridge solution. The current boundaries are not too private, not too public … they’re just right!

    Except that even this morning John Key has shifted the boundaries again. He has now said (Radio NZ) that IF the government buys Toll, National will now keep it. Because their policy is – don’t sell! (Regardless, apparently).

    As Labour are probably going to lose the election, they must be very tempted to nationalise everything, and leave the legacy to “no asset sales” Key.

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  31. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    I’d transfer all the SOEs to the super fund. Better still, transfer them to a super fund with named accounts for every NZer, and let them decide whether they’d prefer to own those assets or other ones.

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  32. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    holy shit, i could actually read one of philu’s posts! it was garbage, but it was formatted better!

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  33. mavxp (483 comments) says:

    I think the Nats policy is “slowly slowly”. Gently lead the NZ Public away from the Socialists. Let them see the world will not end in fiery oblivion if National is running the country, and it is largely business as usual with unrealised fears of going right of centre put to bed, along with the benefits of reduced PC/ Nanny state invasion of their freedoms. Then in the second term, with trust reestablished with the NZ Public, show some leadership on these unresolved issues.

    The truth is it is hard to have sensible debate in the public arena. There is much scaremongering that goes on. National just needs to present a non-threatening alternative to Labour – i.e. Labour without the warts and stale breath.

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  34. Andrea (9 comments) says:

    Great, so again Key has flip flopped considering how angry he was about Labour’s position on the airport what was it, just yesterday?

    For example, when does it intend to legalise incest (as was proposed by Phil Goff before the last election, and then quietly shelved)?

    And what about lowering the age of consent?

    Gay adoption, anyone?

    What do you have against these issues besides “because the bible tells me so?”

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  35. Duxton (654 comments) says:

    Andrea – I take it that you are quite comfortable with incest. Good on you. Good on Phil Goff, for that matter.

    Then again, I can see only one reason why anyone would like incest. Each to their own, I guess. However, you should at least declare your position before the election.

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  36. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    You can sell air, sea and water? Brilliant!

    I assume that National can still get rid of National Radio as they have only ruled out selling assets?

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  37. baxter (893 comments) says:

    Maxvp said “The truth is it is hard to have sensible debate in the public arena. There is much scaremongering that goes on. National just needs to present a non-threatening alternative to Labour – i.e. Labour without the warts and stale breath”/////

    What he meant was Liabour without the corruption,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Still it saddens me that we are to be saddled with State Owned TV for at least another three years. Perhaps it could be leased out, to Fox.

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  38. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    Duxton – “I can see only one reason why anyone would like incest”. Being comfortable with other people committing incest is entirely different to wanting to do it yourself. I am quite comfortable with other people being homosexual, but the thought of doing it myself is just a little…..not where my interests lie. I’m interested that you cannot see the difference.

    Should I take it that you don’t agree with other people being homosexual – or does it mean you are into it yourself?

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  39. Duxton (654 comments) says:

    PaulL – My point is that if Labour are so determined to crap on about secret agendas, they should declare their own agenda now. I’m sure that Goff’s position would go down too well (no pun intended) with the overwhelming majority of the population. Still, that shouldn’t stop him from declaring it!

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