Labour leader Andrew Little has all but dumped the party’s controversial NZ Power policy.
In his opening address to the party’s annual conference in Palmerston North Little said the policy, which aimed to set up a single buyer for the country’s power generation, was too complex to explain simply to voters.
When it was announced it was widely criticised by business and the sector as too interventionist.
Little said the policy, which was unveiled before the last election in concert with a similar policy from the Greens, was important.
There was something wrong with the power system, given rising prices and the high salaries paid to top executives in the sector.
“But our answer to that has to be something we can explain simply to New Zealanders. … So we will have to revisit the NZ Power policy.”
Good. It was the worst of their policies. It was a de facto nationalisation of the power generators, which would have seen the state determine all prices, who can build new supply, and would have destroyed any competition between generators. It was an appalling policy.
But not all good news:
He said if Labour won the election in 2017 it would pass legislation to implement the foreign sales ban policy.
It would also try to renegotiate the deal on the foreign buyers issue, something Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser had indicated was possible over dairy exports.
“We will not support anything that takes away the right of New Zealand politicians in our democratic elected Parliament to make laws in the best interests of New Zealand … it simply isn’t acceptable,” he said.
He said other countries had deals that allowed such a restriction on land sales, but the current Government had not even tried to secure an exemption for that.
Little said Labour was a free trade party, but standing up for the right of Parliament to legislate in the interests of its citizens was not anti-free trade.
Asked if it would be acceptable for other countries to make unilateral changes – for example if Japan legislated against dairy imports – Little said “other countries can do what they like”.
So Little is saying he is fine with other countries breaking agreements they make with New Zealand, because he intends to do the same. Credibility zero.