Smart play by National on asset sales referendum

National has outfoxed the Greens and Labour with the asset sales timeline. John Armstrong at the Herald explains:

Unlucky for some? Maybe. But National clearly does not think it is in danger. Its version of Friday the 13th is designed to be a horror story for its opponents.

In choosing Friday, December 13 as the day the result of the citizens-initiated referendum on asset sales will be announced, National is intent on burying this political nuisance along with its promoters, rather than being buried by it.

The target time for release of the preliminary result of the three-week-long postal ballot is 8.30pm that evening. That will be far too late for the early evening television news bulletins. The result will thus be revealed at what is the deadest time of the political week. By the following Monday, the outcome will be old news. 

That Monday kicks off what is one of the busiest weeks of the political year. The referendum result may instead drown in the usual flood of pre-Christmas announcements as ministers and public servants clear their desks before going on holiday.

Worse for the opponents of asset sales, Parliament may have risen for Christmas by December 13, making it impossible for Opposition parties to exploit the referendum result in the House.

The outcome will be ancient news by the time Parliament resumes in late January or early February for the election year session. It will be ancient news by the time the Government is readying Genesis Energy for a partial share market float in the New Year.

Apparently holding the referendum that the Greens asked for is now anti-democratic too.


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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.

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