Should Aucklanders Pay More for South Island Power?

by Gavin

I see recently there has been debate around why South Islanders living close to power generators shouldn’t pay the same lines prices for power as say those in Auckland. On first reading this sounds logical. But, there is a catch. By socialising the cost of transmission equally across the country we have a level of fairness that in other areas of society is accepted without complaint. For example, the huge costs of the Christchurch earthquake have been in part born by all New Zealanders and rightly so. No one has complained about that.

Let’s take it to another level. If we are to have user pays where does it end? Why should people who have worked hard and only had the kids they can afford subsidise the life choices of those on lower incomes who have more kids than they can afford? People who end up being subsidised by the state through various mechanisms are being paid for by those who make different choices. I can hear the social outrage from here. But it is the same argument as being applied to electricity transmission costs.

It seems to me that as a society we have accepted that those of us who earn enough to pay taxes and raise families are reasonably ok with supporting those less fortunate as part of a caring society. As much as there is and should be more debated about unreasonable life choices made by some people and a sense of entitleitis.

On another level what are all the other cross subsidies that occur across the country for example, in roading, bridges the Super Gold Card etc. We all remember the bridges promised to Northland for the failed bi-election. Would the funding for these have been proportional to the level of goods, services and taxation coming out of Northland? I would suspect that if a cost benefit analysis of economic activity, earning and taxes versus benefits and other social services paid by the state was done Northland may well be a drain on the national economy.

The same argument would apply to Southland when the aluminium smelter finally closes its doors for the last time as I suspect the rest of the country would chip in to help keep the local economy afloat as it should.

From a different perspective on the same ethos Andrew Little wants to socialise the cost of education so the offspring of wealthy people can be subsidised by working trades people. I think the law of unintended consequences may well come into play.

Today’s discussion in the MSM and elsewhere around whether the 4 wheel drive people rescued from the snow should pay for their rescue. Some argue it was stupid to go there with a storm on its way. But who hasn’t done stupid things? Especially, with the benefit of hindsight, which I think is called learning. I suspect they won’t make that mistake again, and fortunately they have lived to learn the lessons. This contrasts starkly with the latest person still being subsidised by the state to have 8 children and accommodation paid for, whilst still complaining about not being looked after.

To me I think the debate should be around what services etc, should have their costs socialised and what costs should be user pays. What levels of accountability do we expect? Where do we want to go as a society?


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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.

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