Are asset sales a go?

September 3rd, 2012 at 7:55 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins reports:

The Cabinet is expected to press ahead today with the Government’s flagship programme after a landmark report.

But insiders are not ruling out a “short to medium” delay to the first share offering, as the Cabinet weighs up whether to push out the original timetable by just a few weeks – which would still allow for a pre-Christmas float – or delay the sale of the first shares until early next year.

Putting the part-float of state-owned energy companies on ice indefinitely is not on the table, sources say.

I never thought it was.

There were calls yesterday for the Government to delay the sales as Labour and the Greens step up their efforts to force a referendum on the issue before the next election.

They’re not quite there let. Obviously the Greens need to spend more taxpayer funding on hiring signature collectors.

I also look forward to the Greens and Labour announcing they are repealing or amending the anti-smacking law, as they have suddenly become fans of referenda trumping election outcomes.

In an urgent report a week ago, the Waitangi Tribunal called on the Government to put the first share float for Mighty River Power on hold until it had thrashed out a mechanism for recognising Maori proprietary rights and interests on waterways within power company catchments.

Controversially, the tribunal proposed a “share plus” option as one solution, possibly including super-dividends, board seats and even a right of veto for Maori.

But the Cabinet seems almost certain to balk at that option, given the power it would hand to iwi as minority shareholders to override bigger shareholders and management on strategic decisions. Government sources have confirmed there are concerns at whether the “shares plus” option is even workable.

What does that mean for the credibility of the Tribunal, if it has proposed an option that in workable?

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53 Responses to “Are asset sales a go?”

  1. Pete George (23,168 comments) says:

    Yes, blatant hypocrisy alert. Russel Norman has also warned the Government not to play politics by delaying the referendum for which there aren’t yet enough signatures in a petition that has been hijacked by political players.

    What’s his game? Russel Norman and playing politics.

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  2. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    If the Tory Party are so keen to repeal the “ant-smacking” law, why don’t they do it?

    The Greens and Labour don’t have the numbers at the moment.

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  3. wreck1080 (3,787 comments) says:

    I’ll not be buying a single share so long as maori have ‘hidden’ and unpredictable claims over these companies.

    I see the auckland maoris have submitted a money grabbing proposal for the next 30 years.

    “A statutory body has produced a blueprint for Maori development over the next 30 years in Auckland, to be used to advocate for better resources for Maori.”

    So much for the treaty settlements being the end of the government funded maori payouts.

    If anything , the whole maori thing is getting completely out of control. This is what happens when governement tries to write ghosts and goblins into policies.

    Maybe i’m having an over dramatic monday morning ha ha. But, so much in the news today is maori demand this , maori demand that. In the USA recently, I did not hear a single thing about the indigenous people.

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  4. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    I think Key et al have no idea what to do. They have shown for several years now that they wont take hard options, and they wont take opportunities that are provided to them.

    My money is on more procrastination.

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  5. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    The sale must go ahead. Any delay can only be construed as giving in to the Stone Age racists.

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  6. Yvette (2,739 comments) says:

    Court action to block the partial sale of Mighty River Power could be initiated “within an hour” if the Government decides today to proceed with the sale this year, the Maori Council says.

    Considering how efficient ‘within an hour’ sounds, one may ask what the hell happened between the election of National, November 26 last year, to the Asset sales legislation passing, June 26 this year.
    Did they not see it coming?
    Pity the TPP is not in place or the corporate side of Government could sue the Maori Council for any loss of revenue or ‘write down’ on share prices due to their inaction.

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  7. Morgy (171 comments) says:

    Ham missing the point again. Predictable?

    @Barry, I hope you are wrong although the record isn’t great. If it was me I would be fuming at the way this is panning out and I don’t think he would loose many friends (if any) if he was to give the Tribunal, Council and other sycophants the strongest verbal upper cut and just push ahead….assuming there isn’t a serious legal issue hanging over it.

    Go for it JK. There is an economic argument being lost in all this. You were voted to get a job done and all of us who voted for you, knew this was an outcome of the vote….whether we liked it or not!

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  8. Nookin (3,162 comments) says:

    “Court action to block the partial sale of Mighty River Power could be initiated “within an hour” if the Government decides today to proceed with the sale this year, the Maori Council says. ”

    That’s why we have Courts — to resolve impasses. The fact that they are threatening proceedings shouldn’t defer action. They may not necessarily win.

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  9. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    In any case, it’s good to see a straight out political fight on this one.

    I bet John Key does everything possible to push through the sale of Mighty River Power.

    Leaving it any longer will muddy the waters with the referendum and lengthy Court battles.

    Torys selling state assets, nothings changed since Thatcher.

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  10. mister nui (1,001 comments) says:

    I’m with wreck, every story in the paper today is race based…. maori want this, maori want that, special provisions for maori on this board et al.

    Well, fuck the bloody maori. What about everybody else that makes this country great? Most of this I can see is being driven by our spineless, apologist media. The way they report on this it is like the bloody maori are continually the hard done by, but, they’re not. It is the rest of us who suffer when a policy is brought in for one minority group of society.

    The left go on about racism all the time, but nearly every policy they have is race based. The greens are far and away the most racist party in parliament, yet they, and their friends in the media, continually portray the right as racist.

    When was the last time ACT had a racist policy, that meant special provisions for one race over another? Point me to one.

    Can’t we just be colourblind, as the left so wish us to be!

    Edit: Yes, morgy, if only Key had the testicular fortitude of Brash, to give the waitangi tribunal the uppercut they so deperately deserve. Unfortunately the gutless prick doesn’t.

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  11. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    Torys selling state assets, nothings changed since Thatcher.

    Exactly the way it should be.

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  12. Redbaiter (7,865 comments) says:

    Hey Manolo, what about the joke of comparing Key with Thatcher. :)

    Good grief.

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  13. Morgy (171 comments) says:

    @Hamnida “In any case, it’s good to see a straight out political fight on this one.”

    I don’t know Hamnida. I would like to see more debate on the economic merits of the alternatives within the media. They are simply responding to the press releases of everyone and using sensationalistic soundbites to create emotive angles rather than actually cutting to the real thrust of the issue; the economy and how it’s managed. I don’t know about anyone else, but the left/right thing is just too predictable and boring. The Greens are pushing the Green economy….I don’t agree with them but they are consistent however, what is the cost/benefit of their ideas? I don’t quite know what Labour stand for and neither do they at the moment and then you have Winston who is still banging on about monetary policy after decades of doing so.

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  14. Paulus (2,546 comments) says:

    Not convinced that our High Courts are totally impartial to Maori grievances.

    They understand the “Principals of the Treaty of Waitangi”, invented by Geoffrey Palmer, – you do not.

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  15. Griff (6,970 comments) says:

    The griever industry deservers more than a upper cut lets try some thing permanent like a coup de grâce
    Binding citizens referendum does have its attraction one vote and the treaty would be back to being a fancy piece of shit paper

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  16. rg (197 comments) says:

    The Tribunal is a joke, they put up the ‘share plus” option as the only option available to settle Maori claims and that because their option would no longer be available after the float it would be a breach of the Treaty to go ahead with the float. The claims have not even been established yet and also the Govt has other options. Getting this in from of a real court with a real judge it should only take a first year law student to drive a bus through the tribunals arguments.

    Once this claim is thrown out of court what come back will theer be on the Tribunal for getting it so wrong. They are an advisory body for Maori by Maori, and should be scrapped because it is incompetent and racist

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  17. Mark (1,407 comments) says:

    The whole asset sales programme is looking a bit dodgy currently. Solid energy is off the table, Air NZ is looking unlikely so if mighty river power is delayed by Maori claims over water rights then the whole programme has to have a big question over it.

    Keys comments this morning that because the sales are only partial sales and the claims can be dealt with post any partial float simply does not stand scrutiny. Who the hell would invest in these companies with that issue and possible cost hanging over them.

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  18. rg (197 comments) says:

    I’m with Mister nui, we need a party like ACT to spine up a gutless John Key. It is a pity conservative NZ voters were so spineless at the election last year and voted for him. Key has a plan though, you watch as river by river, iwi by iwi we lose our country.

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  19. Pete George (23,168 comments) says:

    Due to the messyness if the current situation I think the government should delay Mighty River float by six months, plan one other energy SOE float and perhaps flick off some Air NZ shares.

    In current market conditions they are trying to cram to much into one term.

    I don’t see a need to stop the country until all Maori grievances and opportunistic plays are fully dealt with.

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  20. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    A sad joke indeed. Not without reason Mrs Thatcher was The Iron Lady.
    Key, who wouldn’t qualify to wash Margaret’s dishes, deserves to be called The Jelly Boy.

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  21. smttc (710 comments) says:

    Since when was it the role of the Waitangi Tribunal to suggest solutions? Its role is to make findings. The Crown and Maori then attempt to negotiate solutions. This is just an attempt at an opportunistic money grab.

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  22. Griff (6,970 comments) says:

    I propose implementing a fully culturally correct and permanent solution to moari grievance and desires for the future
    As moari culture is so important doing so would have no argument from the left or racist political spectrum Full Maori traditional protocol could be instituted to insure that moari owned the solution and felt that the country are giving their culture the weight and respect it deservers
    Round them all up and cook the lot

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  23. mister nui (1,001 comments) says:

    I’m lost for words how a warmist like you can propose such a solution griff. Think of all the pollution that you will put in the atmosphere when you cook all that blubber!

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  24. campit (467 comments) says:

    The Waitangi Tribunal aspect is a distraction from the real issue that should be discussed, namely why are we selling these assets in the first place? Brent Sheather summed this up in the Herald the other day.

    efficiency gains?

    there is no clear proof that the involvement of the private sector delivers higher efficiency or productivity or a lower cost of capital.

    reduce debt?

    …selling in a depressed market is not a good move as sellers are better to wait… The electricity SOE’s like Mighty River Power are going to be sold at valuations whereby the net profit as a proportion of the share price is around 7 per cent after tax.

    Today the Government can borrow for 10 years at just 3.45 per cent so it doesn’t take a finance degree to work out that the Government could retain the asset, service the debt out of the 7 per cent return and pay off debt with the balance.

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  25. Griff (6,970 comments) says:

    Sometimes one must compromise ones ideals in the interest of a solution that is acceptable to all.
    Modern co generation techniques should allow a carbon neutral out come as would burying any remaining body parts so deep that there was no further possibility of a hand out

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  26. artemisia (220 comments) says:

    Leaving aside the [unknown] impact of a court challenge, the government will be both praised and vilified whichever option it elects. Unless Mr Key really does propose a truly elegant solution. The vilification will come mainly from folk who are not traditional National voters. The praise will come from at least some National voters who will jump ship anyway over the asset sales issue. Seems clear to me.

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  27. Redbaiter (7,865 comments) says:

    Lets not forget it has been John Key who has so thoughtlessly and so enthusiastically promoted the concept of two separate NZs.

    He has often said publicly that he and Pita Sharples are “good mates”.

    He drew the separatists into government when he didn’t have to.

    He approved the flying of the separatist flag in public venues.

    That so called Maori have exploited the weakness of this jelly backed compromiser is not something that should be unexpected.

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  28. Pete George (23,168 comments) says:

    An ‘elegant solution’ might be to float 40% and hold back the rest pending water rights. I’d prefer it to be closer to 48% though.

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  29. Ross12 (1,235 comments) says:

    I am probably missing something quite simple but why didn’t the Maori Council pushed their water claim as soon as the power companies became SOEs ?? What difference does the 49% ownership change make? If their claim is legitimate why haven’t they been collecting “rent” or usage rights compensation since the SOEs were formed??

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  30. Keeping Stock (10,162 comments) says:

    Hamnida said

    Torys selling state assets, nothings changed since Thatcher.

    Oddly enough Hamnida, no government in New Zealand’s history sold more assets than the Lange/Palmer/Moore Labour government of 1984-1990. No less than 17 state assets were sold, of a total value of $9,490 million. And sitting at the Cabinet table throughout bound by the principle of collective Cabinet responsibility were Phil Goff and Helen Clark, joined in the second term by Annette King. Trevor Mallard was not far from the action in the 1987-1990 term either.

    Labour can distance itself all it likes from that, but history once writ cannot be rewritten.

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  31. mister nui (1,001 comments) says:

    Well said redbaiter.

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  32. kowtow (7,877 comments) says:

    “History once writ cannot be rewritten”.

    Doesn’t stop the lying left from trying their darndest.Along with a generally compliant media that allow history to be rewritten or glossed over.

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  33. Keeping Stock (10,162 comments) says:

    Quite so Kowtow; which is why I will take every opportunity to remind people like Hamnida just how duplicitous the party he supports really is.

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  34. Pete George (23,168 comments) says:

    Ross12 – The only difference seems to be timing for leverage. Some have called it opportunism.

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  35. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    As Brent Sheather says:

    “The case for selling our SOE’s looks flimsy at best and a travesty from the perspective of young people and those other sectors of society who stand to lose from the transactions. This is likely to be at least half that population. If this Government truly has the interests of all New Zealanders at heart it is time to admit it has made a mistake.”

    No doubt we’ll hear later today that asset sales are off the agenda. That’s assuming of course that John Key isn’t a prize idiot.

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  36. The Peanut Monster (19 comments) says:

    If the asset sales no longer make economic sense, they should be off the table. The Nats have to at least concede that. This Waitangi Tribunal business is not flash either. At the very least we must concede it looks bad to be openly ignoring the Tribunal, even though that is the prerogative. Just like it looks bad to be ignoring the numbers when most people do not want asset sales.

    In saying that, National was elected on this platform. Our electoral system allows parties without 51% to arrange a government if they can make agreements to do so. They can then push their own agenda if they other parties agree. Like it or not, that’s the system, and it allows the Nats to do sell if they want to.

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  37. Elaycee (4,322 comments) says:

    Labour can distance itself all it likes from that, but history once writ cannot be rewritten.

    But it won’t stop them from giving it their best shot… :D

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  38. publicwatchdog (2,229 comments) says:

    OPPOSED TO ASSET SALES AND THE PRIVATISATION OF OUR STATE-OWNED ELECTRICITY COMPANIES?

    SWITCH OFF MERCURY ENERGY PROTEST TODAY:

    Monday 3 September 2012

    Outside Mercury Energy Office
    602 Great South Rd, Greenlane

    4 – 5.30pm

    WE WANT 100,000 MERCURY ENERGY CUSTOMERS TO SWITCH OFF MERCURY ENERGY
    (100% owned by Mighty River Power), in order to throw a HUGE spanner into this National/ACT Government’s privatisation agenda!

    We call on all those who have marched down the street and signed the petition against asset sales to now take the action which CANNOT be ignored – thousands of Mercury Energy customers leaving in droves, which will cause the profits of parent company Mighty River Power (MRP) to fall – thus making Mighty River Power a most unattractive investment.

    There is a precedent for this.

    In 2008, in a time of financial downturn, (already privatised) Contact Energy doubled their directors’ fees and increased their prices 12%.

    In six months, 40,000 customers left Contact Energy, whose profits were halved.

    IT’S PEOPLE POWER TIME!

    To whom do you ‘switch’?

    Meredian Energy Ph: 0800 496 496 http://www.meridianenergy.co.nz

    Genesis Energy Ph: 0800 496 496 http://www.genesisenergy.co.nz

    Powershop Ph: 0800 496 496 http://www.powershop.co.nz

    Energy On Line Ph: 0800 496 496 http://www.energyonline.co.nz

    (Contact Energy, Empower and Trustpower are already privatised – so – if you’re opposed to privatisation, don’t switch to them! :)

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=422693697782504&set=a.422424394476101.133409.415130425205498&type=1&theater

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-privatisation / Anti-corruption campaigner’

    http://www.dodgyjohnhasgone.com

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  39. publicwatchdog (2,229 comments) says:

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Mighty-Rivers-profit-slumps-by-59m/tabid/1607/articleID/267082/Default.aspx

    Is SHONKY John Key going to allow the sale of our precious electricity assets to his investor mates at bargain-basement prices?

    How FISCALLY responsible is THAT?

    Whose interests is this former Wall St banker / former Head of (dodgy) Derivatives for Merrill Lynch /current shareholder in the Bank of America / NZ Prime Minister John Key serving?

    NZ ‘mums and dads’?

    Yeah right.

    If the Government wants to save money – rather than selling off essential public service assets – how about CUTTING OUT THE CONSULTANTS and PRIVATE CONTRACTORS?

    How many BILLION$ could be saved by returning back to ‘in-house’ provision all these services that were privatised under the ‘Rogernomic$’ reforms?

    Serving whose interests?

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-privatisation / Anti-corruption campaigner’

    http://www.dodgyjohnhasgone.com

    http://www.stopthesupercity.org.nz

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  40. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    Get lost, disappear, vanish, piss off, eff off, Mrs Dim.

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  41. Keeping Stock (10,162 comments) says:

    I’m an NZ dad Penny, and not rich by any stretch of the imagination. But I can’t wait for the MRP share float; the money’s been put to one side, and is ready to go. I can’t imagine a better way of showing my commitment to the country of my birth than investing in its future :D

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  42. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > I can’t imagine a better way of showing my commitment to the country of my birth than investing in its future

    That being the case, I suggest going to the TAB.

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  43. Keeping Stock (10,162 comments) says:

    BTW Penny; instead of wasting your hard-earned money on frivolous and vexatious legal cases, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is, and invest in New Zealand’s future?

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  44. Pete George (23,168 comments) says:

    The Peanut Monster : If the asset sales no longer make economic sense, they should be off the table.

    I agree, but unfortunately that is being clouded and overshadowed by all the political posturing.

    If we had a properly functioning parliament (and parties) it would have National the space to adjust that policy according to changing market conditions.

    Solid Energy at least should be on hold. Three other energy SOE floats sems to be too optimistic in the current market and economic climate – at least until we see how the first one works out.

    But through their continued oppose everything stance Labour and Greens are doing more to ensure the whole share float programme is completed before the next election.

    Sensible business decisions don’t mix well with parties with political agendas in three year election cycles.

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  45. graham (2,251 comments) says:

    I think all those people who intend to invest in Mighty River should do their utmost to persuade people to switch TO Mercury Energy.

    Thus ensuring a good return to shareholders. :)

    Get out there and spread the word!

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  46. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    Keeping Stock – couldn’t agree more re: 1984 – 1990 Labour.

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  47. Pete George (23,168 comments) says:

    Delayed Mighty River until next March, wise decision. If they went ahead now it would look like they were forcing things through for the sake of it. Best to do it as well as possible.

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  48. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    Wise decision? Hoisting of the white flag, more likely.
    A pathetic decision from a weak, spineless government headed by an empty-suit and compromiser: the ineffably vacuous Smile-and-wave Key.

    Morally ruined, the Labour lite government capitulates (again).

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  49. Pete George (23,168 comments) says:

    Wise from a business point of view, I think there’s a better chance of a more successful float after the current crap has settled down and been dealt with.

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  50. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    P.G., you must consider Neville Chamberlain a true modern hero.

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  51. Pete George (23,168 comments) says:

    I have no idea if Chamberlain was a prudent businessman or not.

    National were always on a very tight timeframe trying to fit the first float in this year. The priority should be on doing it right rather than quick.

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  52. Elaycee (4,322 comments) says:

    SWITCH OFF MERCURY ENERGY PROTEST TODAY:
    Monday 3 September 2012
    Outside Mercury Energy Office
    602 Great South Rd, Greenlane
    4 – 5.30pm

    By chance I was scheduled to go to a meeting in Penrose this afternoon and rather than take the motorway, I detoured along Gt South Road to see how ‘successful’ this call to protest had been. I passed by this address just after 4pm – the news had just started on the radio. There were two people there – in a space approx 4 metres wide just off the footpath. I really had to look to find the ‘crowd’…. but soon spotted one dishevelled person having a problem with a cloth style ‘Tui’ copycat sign and a second woman (complete with black beret) just arriving on the scene but preoccupied (excuse the pun) with the wheels on her (errant) travel case. And that was it! Two people… Not twenty. Not even a dozen. Not even three! TWO people! 8O

    To represent this duo as a ‘protest’ is something that even Goebbels would avoid suggesting – out of sheer embarrassment….

    Maybe Aucklanders were already busy with something else… like earning a living. :D

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  53. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    The Beret wearer was probably Penny……

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