Asset Sales referendum is go

September 2nd, 2013 at 1:58 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A will be held on after confirmation that a petition under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act gained the support of 10 per cent of eligible electors.

The petition, organised by the Keep Our Assets coalition and led by Grey Power president Roy Reid, asked: “Do you support the Government selling up to 49 per cent of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?”

Shares in Mighty River Power were first floated on May 10 this year.

The Clerk of the House of Representatives, Mary Harris, today said she was satisfied the petition had more than the 308,753 signatories required on March 12, the day it was delivered.

The Clerk was originally expected to announce the results at 1pm.

But an embarrassing mistake by Greens co-leader Russel Norman has marred the release for Opposition parties.

Dr Norman tweeted the news this morning, having missed the embargo.

He then tweeted an apology.

Whoops!

The coalition had two months to collect 16,000 valid signatures after the initial count was deemed just short of the number required. After a thorough checking process, it was estimated that 327,224 eligible electors signed the petition, about 18,500 more than required.

This is the fifth petition under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act to proceed to a referendum.

The Speaker is expected to present the petition to the House tomorrow.

The Government will then have a month to set a date for holding the referendum or specify that it is to be a postal referendum.

The date of the referendum must be within a year of its presentation to the House, unless the House by a 75 percent majority vote agrees to postpone it for up to a further year.

If I were the Government I’d do a postal referendum as soon as possible – say December.

Labour’s SOE’s spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said the asset sales programme must be halted until after the referendum.

“John Key must respect the democratic process. Over 327,000 Kiwis have called for a referendum. Their voice must be heard,” he said.

What nonsense and hypocrisy.

If Labour and Greens are now claiming a referendum trumps an election, then why did they vote against allowing parental correctional smacking when 87% voted it should not be a crime? They voted down a bill to allow it, just weeks after the referendum. National voted against also, but at least National has never claimed a non-binding referendum should trump an election policy.

The point of the referendum is to politically damage the Government. Now fair enough, but let’s not pretend it is anything else.

Of course taxpayers now pick up the cost of the referendum, on top of the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent on collecting signatures.

The reality is that National got a mandate for its policy at the election. This was not some minor obscure policy. It was a policy debated for 10 months after it was announced in January 2011. It was at the centre of the election campaign. Labour’s entire campaign almost was focused on stopping the partial sales, and the result was they failed.

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75 Responses to “Asset Sales referendum is go”

  1. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    It’s great to see that a referendum will be held, and it was great to see David Farrar as one of the signatories. :)

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  2. Redbaiter (7,522 comments) says:

    Why don’t National wake up and stop referring to this issue as “Asset Sales.”

    National are too fond of using language that the left have defined. When the idea is to create a negative image in the voting public’s mind.

    A more suitable term would be (off the top of my head) capital realisation. Surely the brains trust in National, (as crippled as it is), could come up with something more palatable to the public.

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  3. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  4. alwyn (380 comments) says:

    I would have a great deal more respect for the Green and Labour parties if they had taken any notice of the referendum to reduce the size of Parliament from 120 to 99.
    Actually I would have some respect for them, not more, as my current view of the integrity of either of them is zero.
    Come on Greens. Show your belief in referenda being supreme by bringing in a private member’s bill to implement the 99 person limit, promise you’ll all support it and then have two of your members stand down and refuse to allow them to be replaced.
    Then I might take some notice of your bs.

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  5. pedrogarcia (51 comments) says:

    John Key on CIR, June 2008: “Is the Prime Minister aware that unlike her I actually have respect for the New Zealand public’s right to express their views, while she is so arrogantly out of touch with New Zealanders she has forgotten what that is like?”

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  6. sparky (235 comments) says:

    The National party won the 2011 election, with VOTERS KNOWING that the government would be going ahead with Partial Asset Sales. The referendum is not binding, so the Government have every right to simply ignore the stupid Labour-Greens, who oppose anything and everything, and then shove a petition under the nose of anyone walking passed, minding there own business. I told them where to go, I bet they don’t tell anyone that though.

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  7. ChardonnayGuy (1,131 comments) says:

    This is why citizens initiated referenda are such hokum. They’re too bloody expensive. I see this latest populist vanity vehicle has racheted up the cost from $9m for the raving right’s pro-hitting referendum to about $31m for the current effort. No wonder the Prime Minister hates the infernal things. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- CIRs, whether binding or nonbinding, are inimical to both fiscal responsibility in government (ie California’s state bankruptcy) and equitable provision of social services (due to the cost). Why the hell doesn’t someone have the guts to repeal the CIR Act 1993 once and for all and stop this albatross from hanging around the metaphorical necks of successive governments???

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  8. freedom101 (462 comments) says:

    If I was National I’d draft a government bill to:
    1) Reduce parliament to 99 members
    2) Decriminalise a light smack

    Then see if Labour will support both measures.

    If they don’t then the referendum on asset sales is doubly academic. If they do then it’s implementing what the people have asked for, and National can gain the kudos!

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  9. PaulL (5,872 comments) says:

    @ross69: did National get 33% support in the last election? I’m not sure that’s what I recall. In fact, this link here: http://www.electionresults.govt.nz/electionresults_2011/ says that they got 47%. Plus their support parties getting enough for them to…….form a government. Interesting that.

    I wonder what the dynamics of this are – is it better to go for a postal vote or wait for the next election. The postal vote would probably have low turnout, but probably also be much more polarised (i.e. only people who really care would bother – so probably a stronger anti vote). Would we report % of registered voters or % of those who voted?

    At the election would probably get a bigger group to vote, and more likely to be moderate. And by then people will probably see that the partial sale of the energy companies hasn’t actually caused any problems. But gives the parties of the left a chance to campaign on it (which they’ll do anyway).

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  10. flipper (3,533 comments) says:

    So after spending (illegally?) thousands of taxpayer dollars allocated for other purposes, Labour and the Red melon Commissars claim that less than 350,000 people signing a piece of paper, promoting a lie, NEGATES a General Election result where the issue of selected asset shareholding sell-down was, perhaps the major policy difference between National and the Labour/Red Melon Commissars.

    It seems that is their view of democracy. Rossie69, you and others of like mind, are pathetic.

    Bring on the postal vote. NZ Post needs the revenue. Do it before Christmas, as DPF suggests..

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  11. RightNow (6,642 comments) says:

    Already the numpties like ross69 are undermining what little credibility this referendum could muster:
    ” if you call 33% voter support for National a mandate…”

    You see, like the post-referendum analysis of the smacking law referendum, unless there is 100% voter turnout then the result will be meaningless. Anyone who doesn’t vote in the referendum must clearly be in favour of partial asset sales. The precedent has been set by whining lefties.

    WOFTAM.

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  12. Ian McK (237 comments) says:

    Who cares what a jerk such as Cosgrove thinks? Another leeching unelected bludging left-wing trough-snouter. This pathetic case is referred to by his Labour colleagues as “The Buffoon”, so that shows what a useless piece of s..t he is. As for partial sell-down, bring it on JK, I want more shares.

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  13. m@tt (587 comments) says:

    PaulL. ~33% of eligible voters gave a specific vote to National as opposed ~47% of just those that voted. Like it or not, non-voters can still participate in a democracy and may sign a petition for a CIR so the first measure is more accurate in this case.

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  14. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Paul L,

    There were over 3 million eligible voters in 2011 and just over a million voted National. The actual figure was 34.4%. Clearly voters didn’t rush out to vote in support of asset sales which is not surprising when you consider it’s a dick of a policy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_general_election,_2011

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  15. Harriet (4,495 comments) says:

    Socialism is the ultimate exploitative monopoly.

    It’s about cheap power, cheap food, having a roof put over your head, free medical, everyone playing by the same rules, living under a ruling class.

    Just like in every prison. Key’s going to rip ‘em a new arshole! :cool:

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  16. Judith (7,460 comments) says:

    What is everyone so worried about? enough people signed the petition – the process was legal, and a referendum specifically addressing the ‘asset sales’ will provide a definitive answer.

    It has to be a win win situation. If Key is right and has the clear majority, as he believes, then why are his supporters acting like they have no confidence that his words will be vindicated by the referendum?

    I don’t understand the opposition to a referendum -

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  17. swan (659 comments) says:

    Given the government is only proposing to sell less than 30% of Air New Zealand, the referendum question is entirely hypothetical and as such the result will have no bearing on the public’s opinion of any government policy.

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  18. RightNow (6,642 comments) says:

    Perfect, m@tt and ross69 set out the criteria in advance of the referendum. Only those that actually vote no in the referendum can be counted as votes against partial asset sales.

    I predict 27% against. Everyone else is for it.

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  19. Redbaiter (7,522 comments) says:

    “I don’t understand the opposition to a referendum ”

    That’s because like most dozing dopey commies, you let political corruption and wasteful government spending slip right under your radar.

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  20. Ross12 (1,143 comments) says:

    m@tt and Ross69

    If voters did not turn out to vote last election they clearly did not feel strongly enough about the partial asset sale to exercise their democratic rights. So they don’t count. Throwing around this 33% figure is game playing.

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  21. b1gdaddynz (279 comments) says:

    The only votes that count in an election are those that are actually cast! If you don’t vote then YOU have chosen not to participate in OUR democracy and thus you no longer count! If people don’t vote then they must support the status quo otherwise they would have voted against National! This is just a waste of tax payer money by a bunch of pathetic losers who ignore the outcome when it suits them yet are hypocritical enough to expect National to listen to this one! Guess what they won’t give it a second thought and it won’t stop a thing; the losers will still be losers!

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  22. Keeping Stock (10,088 comments) says:

    Agree wholeheartedly DPF. Labour and the Greens supported the retention of MMP. And what MMP does is give the main player(s) the chance to form a government.

    John Key was able to assemble a coalition after the election, and the moment that he was able to advise Sir Jerry Mateparae of that was the moment that he had his mandate. To argue otherwise is to argue that MMP is undemocratic.

    Labour and the Greens fought tooth and nail to keep MMP, and fought tooth and nail to stop the partial, minority sale of a few SOE’s. Our system of democracy did not deliver them the result they were hoping, so they maliciously set out to circumvent the election result, and cynically manipulate the CIR process. It is they, not National, who are showing contempt for democracy.

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  23. BeaB (2,056 comments) says:

    And now what a perfect question to ask the Three Stooges.

    Will they buy them back and how will they pay both for the buy-back and the schools etc the proceeds would have paid for? And will they buy back ALL the assets Labour and National have sold because, to be consistent, they should.

    There are no good answers here!

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  24. Judith (7,460 comments) says:

    @ redbaiter

    then why have a process for referendums. I really would have thought people would be welcoming the chance to prove once and for all that Key has been right. I seriously fail to see why that is not welcomed by those who have confidence in the political process? I am hoping someone can explain it in terms other than a waste of government expenditure.

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  25. bandwagon (5 comments) says:

    Nice work Dr Norman, overlooking the embargo. I can put my trust in him running my country for sure.

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  26. Redbaiter (7,522 comments) says:

    Judith, you’re remarks show you are so off the point that explaining it to you would be like pushing Michael Moore through the eye of a needle. But I will try.

    Question- why are people against the referendum?

    Answer

    1) The Greens used taxpayer funds to pay workers to gather signatures. Therefore the petition is fraudulent.

    2) Partial privatization was a key plank of National’s election campaign, therefore the issue was voted on not long ago. The referendum is therefore a waste of money.

    3) Only those opposed will vote. Therefore unrepresentative.

    I am confident you are not a taxpayer Judith as the perspicacious use of taxpayer’s money never seems to matter fuck all to you. Like most with no skin in the game, you don’t give a damn how much is stolen and misused.

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  27. Mr Nobody NZ (397 comments) says:

    If Key is smart he would ignore the referendum an simply call a snap election for 12 weeks time.

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  28. Nigel Kearney (864 comments) says:

    Referendums that have little financial impact should generally be followed. Referendums with a large financial impact should generally be ignored.

    Voting to stop asset sales without voting to add billions to our national debt is not a real choice.

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  29. Keeping Stock (10,088 comments) says:

    Judith said

    @ redbaiter

    then why have a process for referendums.

    The referendum process is for a CITIZEN Initiated Referendum Judith. The system was never designed to be manipulated by political parties to try and re-litigate an election result.

    Partial asset sales was one of the most significant issues debated during toe 2011 election campaign. National recorded a record level of support under MMP, despite clearly stating its agenda almost a year before the election. Labour opposed partial asset sales vigorously, and recorded its worst election result in over 70 years.

    There is absolutely no need to revisit this by way of a referendum; the nation spoke in November 2011 when it allowed John Key to form a government. For parties that claim to be in favour of the democratic process, Labour and the Greens are actually showing an unhealthy level of disrespect for our electoral system.

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  30. Black with a Vengeance (1,552 comments) says:

    Oh fuck off with the mandate to sell assets just cos Key cobbled together an alliance of buttlickers and brown nosers to form a government.

    Let’s put it to the acid test eh!

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  31. Ed Snack (1,733 comments) says:

    I like this idea of governments not being voted in by a majority of eligible voters not having a mandate. That means everything, repeat, everything, brought in by Helen Clark should be repealed and declared null and void because Labour never even got to 30%. And when you can’t even get a third of the eligible voters, then you should be toast ! So hand us back that illegitimately levied spite tax of 39%, and if they won’t then surely we have a right to take it back by personal levy on those members, past and present, who voted for it.

    Though as usual I’m sure Ross69 and others mean that those sort of rules only apply to non-Labour governments (I can’t say rightist because National ain’t of the right). Their right to lord it over us and tell us what to do rests on their invincible sense of their own personal moral and intellectual superiority.

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  32. RightNow (6,642 comments) says:

    “Oh fuck off with the mandate to {do anything} just cos {whoever is PM} cobbled together an alliance of buttlickers and brown nosers to form a government.”

    And there you have the best description of MMP I have yet seen. Well done BWAV.

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  33. flipper (3,533 comments) says:

    If we are to argue about vote percentages, absent any other data, the only credible(?) way is to allocate the numbers of “non voter” according to the ratios of those that voted. The result would be the same would it not?

    Alternatively, it can be argued that the non voters were not seized to vote against National’s policy, so all the non voters could be added to National.

    It is a silly,silly argument that appeals only to dickheads such as rossie69 and his fellow travellers.

    Whatever, J Key has previously said that he has a mandate and the partial sale of shares will proceed, come what may.

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  34. jakejakejake (134 comments) says:

    NZers only care about snapper and would never vote for National if they were opposed to asset sales and gay marriage.

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  35. Judith (7,460 comments) says:

    @ Keeping stock

    Thank you – that was all I wanted, someone to explain what the problem was. Now I understand. :-)

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  36. freethinker (680 comments) says:

    The point of referenda – to provide an effective check on the executive and to allow voters a change of mind. The petition for a referendum is an excellent way of debating the issues in a more detailed on relaxed way than in the heat of an election. If a simple majority of votes cast is sufficient to elect a government then the same standard must apply to referendums and they are only a waster of money if government chooses to ignore the result especially were the votes for the proposal show a significant majority albeit even significant legislation like the GCSB was passed on a simple majority.Talking of waste I recall a police computer cost of $140m, a new prison cost overun and the purchase of useless LAVS total say at least $200m so even at $10m a referendum thats worth 20 which will probably be enough for the next 10-20 years and be far more valuable.

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  37. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    the nation spoke in November 2011 when it allowed John Key to form a government.

    You love criticising Helen Clark and the last Labour government, yet apparently it had a mandate for all of its policies! Could you be more hypocritical?

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  38. Evadne (68 comments) says:

    No one denies Helen Clark’s government had a mandate. Doesn’t mean all her policies were sensible, or improved the country.

    By all means, discuss the virtues of various policies – but don’t moan about nonsense like “no mandate” or the “undemocratic” passing of policy by one vote. A government is elected to govern – they’re supposed to implement policy.

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  39. stigie (886 comments) says:

    You love criticising Helen Clark and the last Labour government, yet apparently it had a mandate for all of its policies! Could you be more hypocritical?

    What a stupid statement ross69 !!

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  40. BeeJay (68 comments) says:

    I think that a referendum would finally show the Greens and their sad followers that the majority of Kiwis don’t follow the lead of their Australian leader, Norman. Called the co-leader, but you never really hear from their other co-leader! Bring it on! I purchased Mighty River Power and I will buy Meridian! Just keep it going, John Key! You and the Party are definitely on the path that we will follow!!

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  41. SPC (5,334 comments) says:

    Just because National received an election mandate to enact its manifesto, this does not mean it has to if the public makes it clear it opposes a particular policy.

    National itself voluntarily chose not to enact its 2008 manifesto taxation policy and run the GST increase instead – this because of economic circumstance.

    In this case, the conditions for sale of the shares at a value beneficial to the public interest is not there – selling the shares onto a buyers market is not what any business would do unless it had to sell (could not raise funds in any other way).

    As Key said other nations are applying QE because of their limited choices, why are we then selling off assets below value indicated by their dividend return, if we are not Greece? Ideology? Political pride?

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  42. Australis (99 comments) says:

    Does this mean that all the Labour Party’s election promises have built-in small print saying: “subject to there being no referendum vote to the contrary”. Seems like a whole new interpretation of mandate theory.

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  43. Right of way is Way of Right (1,129 comments) says:

    Helen Clark’s never had a mandate for axing the countries air strike wing either, but that didn’t stop em!

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  44. SPC (5,334 comments) says:

    The planes were unsold when Labour left office, and National did not run on restoring the wing in 2002, 2005 or 2008.

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  45. OneTrack (2,563 comments) says:

    Spc – We are doing it for the capital that the partial sale frees up. We get to control what the company does ( >51% ) AND we get billions of dollars AND kiwis get the opportunity of putting their toes into the share market with a “safe” investment vehicle, maybe getting them away from the love affair with property. What’s not to love?

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  46. dc (173 comments) says:

    Norman hates MMP too:

    Russel Norman ‏@RusselNorman 2h
    @devilmade77 A majority voted for parties opposed to asset sales at the last election

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  47. Redbaiter (7,522 comments) says:

    “Helen Clark’s never had a mandate for axing the countries air strike wing either, but that didn’t stop em!”

    Or nuclear ships.

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  48. SPC (5,334 comments) says:

    Redbaiter, National supported Labour on no nuclear ship visits and the end of the strike wing.

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  49. BigFish (132 comments) says:

    Mandate shmandate!
    When you’ve got popular opinion running against you, claiming a mandate is just code for getting voted out soon.
    Once a party loses touch with the will of the people, the writing is on the wall.
    Labour learnt this to their peril with the anti-smacking campaign.

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  50. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Helen Clark’s never had a mandate for axing the countries air strike wing either, but that didn’t stop em!

    Of course she had a mandate – she got elected PM! According to KBers, you have a mandate if you’re elected.

    Out of interest, has our illustrious PM brought back the air strike wing?

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  51. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    No one denies Helen Clark’s government had a mandate. Doesn’t mean all her policies were sensible, or improved the country.

    I think we’re making progress. You seem to realise that asset sales is a dick policy.

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  52. KapitiCoast (114 comments) says:

    Look I’m sick and tired of chatting to lefties on MSM political websites (TV3/One News) and trying to explain to them with their silly outlook/beliefs (from The Standard?), ‘National did not get 50%, so have no mandate’ crap that I asked everyone that sat in that camp of thought, ‘if Labour won last election with 27%, Greens 15%, NZ First 7%, Maori 6%…would Labour have a ‘Mandate’, and they all said yes!, but National having 47% and Maori 6% and 1% ACT/UF…National do not!, seems if it’s a coalition Govt with support partners for the right is ‘illegal and no mandate’, but for the left ‘the people have spoken’…really fucks me off and been going since Nov 2011 and suspect will continue after 2014. Democracy is only true under MMP if a left Gov’t has the numbers. I hope National gets 50% next year and shut the fuckers up!

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  53. SPC (5,334 comments) says:

    One Track, we won’t get to decide what the company does because TPP rules may well specify that governments cannot act (with their 51% shareholding) in ways that impact adversely on the private shareholders of companies – unless they provide compensation.

    And if we are selling the shares and losing dividends of a higher return than our debt cost it is costing the taxpayer money each year to be in this predicament.

    As well the rising capital value of the asset over time is handed off to private investors and the taxpayer gets nothing of this for losing the 49% shareholding.

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  54. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    and the taxpayer gets nothing of this for losing the 49% shareholding.

    Absolute nonsense. The taxpayer receive 49% of the value of the asset at time of sale, a value which include anticipates future earnings. [If you struggle with the concept of how share price anticipates future earnings, just try taking a look at the performance of Xero.]

    What is more, they get to invest that (cash) asset into other assets, including those which only a govt will ever invest in, primarily because of the ulterior motive – I.e. that paucity or complete lack of a hard return. You know, things like public schools & facilities, public hospitals, and the likes.

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  55. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    Of course she had a mandate – she got elected PM!

    ross69,

    Thank you for agreeing with the fundamental right for the govt of the day (this day) to complete the Mixed Ownership Model programme.

    Very refreshing. And reinforces the complete waste of time and taxpayer money by Labour and Greens on this Political-Party-Masked-As-Citizens-Initiated-Referendum

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  56. SPC (5,334 comments) says:

    Why sell when the dividend return forgone is higher than the cost of debt and the government can borrow easily?

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  57. SPC (5,334 comments) says:

    If future earnings from power assets are connected to

    1. an increase in consumption because of population growth
    2. lack of access to non renewable alternatives
    3. more costly new renewable energy

    Then the power price will rise and the profits derived from existing assets will increase.

    Thus selling the assets now is unwise, and to sell them now when the dividend return is already higher than the debt cost of new borrowing is clearly stupidity.

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  58. itstricky (1,529 comments) says:

    No one denies Helen Clark’s government had a mandate. Doesn’t mean all her policies were sensible, or improved the country.

    Cool. I don’t think “mixed ownership” i.e. selling assets i.e. throwing the baby with the bathwater is sensible. You do. Can we stop pretending with all the faux whine about the referendum. I mean, that’s not what it is about, is it?

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  59. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    Why sell when the dividend return forgone is higher than the cost of debt and the government can borrow easily?

    - the dividend is only higher if you factor in the historic dividends arising from those utilities selling parts of themselves – in inconvenient foot that Phil Goof managed to choke on in 2011
    - increasing debt in difficult global economic conditions is not sound economic management – we have enough if that that thrust upon us with the Christchuch rebuild
    - the true cost of borrowing exceeds the interest rate – not only should you include the opportunity costs of the alternatives that borrowing and interest costs could have been used to deliver, you also have the consideration of the credit rating age CISCO downgrading us which would rise the cost of borrowing for all NZers; raising the cost of investment for businesses and making housing even less affordable for the first more buyers your Green Party pretends to are about

    (There is a real need to further reduce private debt before govt indulges in any more than is absolutely necessary. Bill English has done a great job in promoting this, but more is needed yet.)

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  60. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    @SPC,

    Give up on NZPower – even your supposed ‘poster child’ – Prof Wolek – has come out to say it is wrong

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  61. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    ^^ Not too mention the late Sir Paul Callaghan saying in 2011 that your economic policies were wrong.

    And Prof Robert Wade, the very left-leaning political economist, saying that QE just concentrates more wealth in the hands of the already well off. (that was a real slap to Comrade Russel – his credibility shredded when it was pointed out that his policy would achieve the opposite of his claims)

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  62. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    “age CISCO”

    *agencies

    ” which would r[a]ise the cost of borrowing for all NZers; raising the cost of investment for businesses and making housing even less affordable for the first [home] buyers your Green Party pretends to [c]are about”

    (Damn iPad)

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  63. bandwagon (5 comments) says:

    @ SPC

    Re the Air Strike Wing: once it was gone it was gone. It is not something you can throw a switch and it magically reappears. Once the decision to scrap that capability was made, the knowledge and expertise to fly those aircraft departed the country very rapidly. To re-build that to a point where those aircraft could be safely flown would have taken a prohibitive amount of time and money.

    So no cheap points for saying that National did not bring them back. It was not a viable choice – selling the aircraft was the only option.

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  64. SPC (5,334 comments) says:

    bhudson, the dividend on the MRP shares is over the cost of debt. The same is expected for the Meridian and Genesis sale.

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  65. Fentex (855 comments) says:

    The reality is that National got a mandate for its policy at the election.

    Nonsense – two ticks does not a complete agreement of all policies make. National formed a government, they have authority to proceed with the asset sales and they did have it as a policy.

    But the idea of a mandate is nonsense – on almost all occasions. About the only time it wouldn’t be would be if an early election were called and a party made a point on campaigning for a mandate on a specific policy. That does not describe our last election.

    The ideal of democracy is that the electors choose who is given authority to govern but also includes a requirement the government is mindful of the public will and it is easy for a public otherwise happy with someones governing to disagree on some policies.

    Anyway, if this mandate exists why trumpet it ahead of a referendum? Surely an existing mandate must be confirmed at a ballot box. If it’s such an important thing to claim what would it mean if it isn’t demonstrated?

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  66. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    You’re correct of course, Fentex.

    I am surprised the PM and others are so uptight about this CIR. Surely, if they’re correct, there should be overwhelming support for asset sales…in other words, National’s pre-election policy will be validated by the wider community. I would’ve thought that the PM would be delighted at the opportunity for this policy to be vindicated but apparently not.

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  67. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Why sell when the dividend return forgone is higher than the cost of debt and the government can borrow easily?

    Well, that and other reasons make asset sales a dumb idea. But I suspect the PM and his cronies already know that – it’s more about giving the wealthy an opportunity to increase their wealth at the taxpayers’ expense.

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  68. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    One of the main reasons which the Right uses to justify assets sales is the need to pay off debt and the claim that Government debt is too high. Actually, that is false. “New Zealand Government Debt To GDP averaged 41.17 Percent from 1985 until 2012, reaching an all time high of 71.60 Percent in December of 1986 and a record low of 17.40 Percent in December of 2007″. Last year it was 35.9%.

    So, the debt to GDP ratio was at its lowest under the last Labour government…and has doubled under National. But it’s worth noting that even now, the debt to GDP ratio is lower than the historical average and is considerably lower than that of many of our trading nations.

    http://www.tradingeconomics.com/new-zealand/government-debt-to-gdp

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  69. ChardonnayGuy (1,131 comments) says:

    As a maverick centre-leftist, I have to ask how many surgeries, injury response funding at ACC, frontline police officers, and other social and health services will be sacrificed to pay for this referendum? And uncritical rightist supporters of CIRs need to take a hard look at the Californian economy and at Germany, where such ‘initiatives and referenda’ have boomeranged against them. As for the religious social conservatives who still back it, I have several words- euthanasia? Oregon? Washington state? Zurich? Switzerland?

    Why the hell aren’t Labour and the Greens focusing on elaborating their capital gains tax policies?

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  70. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    CG,

    With your silly question, it’s clear you’re on the far right. The referendum is costing a mere $9 million at most. This compares with the more than $100 million it’s costing to promote and run the sales campaign. Then there’s the fact that we’re foregoing hundreds of millions of dollars in income from the sales. Not to mention that this government has racked up a lot of debt after inheriting the lowest debt to GDP ratio for a very long time. By the way, did you complain when John Key threw Rio Tinto $30 million?

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  71. Fentex (855 comments) says:

    2) Partial privatization was a key plank of National’s election campaign, therefore the issue was voted on not long ago. The referendum is therefore a waste of money.

    3) Only those opposed will vote. Therefore unrepresentative.

    I was struck by the logical inconsistency of these points.

    If votes in an election are to be taken as the will of the people to agree with all the policies of the party that forms government, why not votes in a referendum? Why is one different from the other in demonstration of peoples commitment to support a policy?

    I would think, given a referendums more precise focus, that it should be the clearer indication of peoples will to support the policy. And an argument that only people who feel strongly enough opposed to vote is an argument that it would illustrate a lack of support to counter opposition.

    We’ll only know the will of the people on this specific policy when the referendum is counted.

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  72. Andronicus (219 comments) says:

    Unless ageing has dimmed my memory, Kiwis have consistently opposed asset sales in public opinion polls.

    The referendum will determine whether this is still the case. In the meantime, all sales should be put on hold. That is democracy and common sense.

    I am not surprised Key and his cronies don’t understand that. I am disappointed in you, DPF, that you cannot see the point, I thought you had more sense than that.

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  73. Evadne (68 comments) says:

    ross69 (2,846) Says:
    September 2nd, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    ” No one denies Helen Clark’s government had a mandate. Doesn’t mean all her policies were sensible, or improved the country.”

    I think we’re making progress. You seem to realise that asset sales is a dick policy.

    I can only assume your conflation is deliberate, since I’m not sure you’re that stupid to think me agreeing with one thing means I agree with you in everything. That claiming that if mandate-owning Clark had some stupid policies therefore the mandate-owning Key’s policies are also stupid.

    I believe governments are elected to govern, and I respect that. I do not expect to agree with every policy or idea, or every other person to, either. I do, however, believe that policies should be debated on their virtues, not based purely on ideology or one-eyed “team” support. (The other team does it therefore, ipso facto, it is wrong.)

    I think the share float (emotively, but incorrectly referred to as “asset sales”) is a good policy.

    I don’t agree with everything the National government has done, but I respect them, and trust that, on balance, they will make the best decisions for the country.

    I am not an idealist, nor a National cheerleader. I have voted Labour in the past, and respected Helen Clark. My political views have changed, partly due to getting older, wiser, with more world experience – but mainly due to striving to keep an open mind and preparedness to debate on policy and pragmatics, not on ideology and wishful thinking.

    I am not ideological averse to changing my vote, and cannot rule out future support for another party. As it stands at the moment, I despise the current policies/antics of the Labour party. They are probably not as stupid as they sound, which is even worse: they are deliberately and cynically manipulating the vote by promising the impossible, and misleading the public on what is either right, moral or possible in the real world.

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  74. Evadne (68 comments) says:

    No, the sales should not be put on hold. Holding a referendum is wrong. Policy should not be decided by popularity contest for the simple reason that sensible, good and right actions are not always popular. Popularity-lead decisions amount to no more than bread and circuses. At worst, they lead to bankruptcy and structural & political impotence.

    Taking things like this to the public vote weakens democracy, not strengthens it. We elect governments to govern, to make the hard decisions – not tie one hand behind their back. Creating a precedent where any policy can be stopped or rolled back by a referendum makes it impossible for an elected government to do what they were elected for.

    It is also stupid from a policy perspective. Voting on one aspect of a government’s policy is like voting on one decision in a rugby game, or one plot point in a book. So much else that ties in is left unconsidered.

    Referendums should be reserved for constitutional issues, not minor policy.

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  75. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Policy should not be decided by popularity contest

    I totally agree. But assets sales are a dumb policy and it’s clear that many people realise that. The policy is for the betterment of the wealthy at the expense of taxpayers. I’ve already provided you with info showing clearly that the rationale for asset sales is completely false.

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