Editorials 26 May 2010

The Herald supports a float of Kiwibank:

The Prime Minister has indicated that any part-sale of the bank would be a public float aimed chiefly at mum-and-dad investors, not a trade sale, and that the Government would want to retain a majority shareholding.

As such, he is extolling the idea of a shareholding democracy, a concept that has flourished in Britain and Australia but which enjoyed a regrettably brief currency here.

Floats of the likes of Vector, Contact Energy and Auckland International Airport proved, however, to be hugely popular with Mr Key’s target shareholders, who recognised the opportunity for steady incomes and long-term returns from such utilities. …

The bank’s success means it needs substantial amounts of capital to grow further.

A cash-strapped Government would be an unwilling source. Nor would it be likely to be able to orchestrate a trade sale because potential buyers have their eyes fixed on the burgeoning Asian market.

Indeed, the Government might even see a rationale for keeping Kiwibank in New Zealand hands, if only to provide consumers with choice in a market dominated by Australian-owned competitors.

Everything, therefore, points to a float. The Government should not hesitate to confirm as much in the most unambiguous of terms. And to state that, finally, the country will have the chance to fully embrace the benefits of a shareholding democracy.

Hear hear.

The Press tuts tuts Fergie:

A British tabloid newspaper reporter, Mazher Mahmood, had revealed a sting operation against the duchess, in which she was filmed demanding, anything but selflessly, NZ$1.074 million from an undercover reporter in return for access to the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, who is her former husband.

The cash-strapped but big-spending duchess has subsequently apologised for what she called her serious lapse in judgment. But no apology can undo the damage this affair has done to her own reputation and possibly to that of the prince.

The duchess has long been renowned for her gaffes but this scandal is far more serious. She was trying to exploit her position as the prince’s former wife and use him to gain financially.

Very tacky.

The Dom Post talks Auckland super city:

The Government’s efforts to assuage concerns about the Auckland super-city by strengthening the transparency and accountability of the organisations that will run much of the city deserve support.

Change was needed in Auckland. Local government there was a fractured mess. Planning on Auckland-wide matters such as transport continually foundered on the egos of local body politicians.

One council, and the move to council-controlled organisations, should help break the jam and start solving Auckland’s massive infrastructure problems. …

Allowing Auckland Council to require them to hold meetings in public will go some way towards that, though those who follow local body politics know that it is all too easy for even elected councils to dodge transparency by going into committee and shutting the doors on the public.

Making the CCOs subject to strategic plans set by the council means setting overall goals is the job of those who must answer directly to voters. That is what is needed in a democracy.

In a few years Aucklanders will wonder what all the fuss was about, and why id they wait so long to rationalise their local government structure.

The ODT looks at the oil spill:

The news from the Gulf of Mexico is not good, and there are lessons to be learnt in New Zealand – and, more specifically, Otago – from the oil disaster and its subsequent handling.

Foremost among these are the very real economic and environmental dangers associated with deep-sea drilling such as that which has been mooted for the Carrack/Caravel site off the coast of Dunedin. …

You have to feel sorry for Louisiana especially.

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