Calling out Labour on Asset Sales

Matthew Hooton is the latest to call out Labour and the Green Taliban over their tax payer funded political party initiated referendum on asset sales.

Labour have yet to declare their buy back regime. If they truly believed that the state should own 100% of the assets then they should present their buy back policy before the shares are listed.

Two years ago, John Key surprised the political establishment by announcing plans to sell up to 49% of five state-owned companies, dramatically contradicting year his reputation for policy timidity at the start of election year.

Following Mr Key’s script, Labour built its entire election campaign on the slogan “Stop Asset Sales.”  It achieved 27.5% of the vote, its worst result since 1928.

Since then, Labour has continued prattling on about the sales, even siding with Maori efforts to fully privatise water to stop the sale of minority stakes in dams.

Unsurprisingly, Labour has remained below 35% in the polls, bouncing up only when David Shearer has provided some bloodsport in dealing to David Cunliffe. 

People forget, John Key did the unthinkable…he actually campaigned on asset sales and won the election. The referendum is a shameless attempt at re-litigating the election. But still Labour isn’t pledging to do anything except whinge about it.

What Mr Peters may recognise, but Labour does not, is that, before Mr Key suggested the share issues, most voters had never heard of Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy, Genesis or Solid Energy, much less worried about their ownership structure.

Compared with disposable incomes, the local school competently teaching maths, grandma getting her hip replacement, the cops tracking down the local crims or even keeping Asian immigrants out, whether a Waikato River dam is owned 100% or 51% by the state simply doesn’t rate.

The actual policies of those who claim to oppose share issues prove it.

Through nine years of the Helen Clark regime, when a global economic boom fuelled massive fiscal surpluses, the government bought back not a single share in Contact Energy.

Nor did Phil Goff promise to buy back shares in Contact.  Nor does Mr Shearer promise to buy back shares in the companies Mr Key plans to list.

If it is OK for national symbols such as the Clyde Dam and the Wairakei geothermal network to be 100% privately owned – and majority foreign owned – how could it possibly matter that Waikato River dams will be only 51% government owned and perhaps 20% foreign owned?

While averse to nationalisation, Labour also argues that not a single share in any of the Crown’s $50 billion of commercial companies should ever be sold – in effect freezing more than $30,000 per New Zealand household in a portfolio that is a mere legacy of the tumult of the 1980s and 90s.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.