Greens’ bogus branding exercise

Rob Hosking describes the politicians’ initiated referendum as a bogus branding exercise for the Green Party.

If this is their brand it’s a bad one.

It says they’re a party that:

*  subverted the citizens’ initiated referendum process and turned it into a politicians’ one, funded by taxpayers.

* doesn’t care about wasting the $9 million, or more, it will cost for the referendum which will change nothing.

* is still focussed on debating an issue which was decided in the election nearly two years ago.

The Greens have been starved of publicity since the focus went on Labour and its leadership.

The referendum has got them back in the news, but this bogus branding exercise isn’t good news for them or the taxpayers who are funding it.

 

 

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45 Responses to Greens’ bogus branding exercise

  1. Armchair Critic says:

    Subverted? How so? The referendum is required because 320,000 voters confirmed it is necessary. Most of them were not members of any political party; just ordinary citizens.
    The National party is the one wasting the $9 million. They could prevent its expenditure by holding it with a general election. This means the election would need to be held a couple of months early, but so what? You know National are going to win the next election. Right?

  2. TraceyS says:

    Russel Norman said yesterday “[t]he big news is that our work paid off…)

    For many of us, the work is just beginning to pay off the $9m+.

    Unless the Green Party knows of some big pot of money with the millions already in it?

  3. homepaddock says:

    Subverted because it’s been taken over by politicians. They are called citizens’ (or is it citizen’s?) initiated referenda because they are supposed to be initiated and driven by individuals or groups of citizens, not politicians and their staff working with public funds.

    I hope National will win the election but of course that’s not certain.

  4. Gravedodger says:

    Russel hasn’t sold his printing press he has just put it in the back office and xxxos uses it for a clothes horse for the nice jackets.

    Citizens initiated referenda has a cudly feel about it but just like all populist solutions it is soon converted to a purpose never intended.

  5. TraceyS says:

    That’s all it is good for.

  6. Armchair Critic says:

    You are kidding yourself. 320,000 people signed it. All of them are citizens, very few of them are politicians. Even the ones that are politicians are also citizens.
    Of course it has a strong political aspect to it – that’s the point of CIRs.
    I suspect the only reason you are coming out against this referendum is because it provides a great platform for the opposition to attack National, and in the year before the election too.
    If only the National government hadn’t passed the CIR Act back in 1993 the opposition wouldn’t have the opportunity. The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

  7. TraceyS says:

    I think it has been subverted AC. Peter Williams on One News this morning called it the petition against asset sales.

    It was not a petition against asset sales. It was a petition for a referendum on assets sales. This does not mean every person signing it is against it. Just shows how public perception has been shaped by the politicians’ actions.

    Many people I know have a qualified opinion, ie. “yes, if….” or “no, but….”. Will a referendum capture all that? I think it is the bit that follows ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that really matters. Of particular interest is what will be done with the sale proceeds.

    The $9m+ referendum expenditure could be used to quadruple the amount of additional money (see my comment above) for children struggling with literacy and numeracy in their first two years at school – from $3m or $150 pa for each child in need – to $600 per child pa. Now $600 would be enough to really make a difference.

    Tell me Dave, Viv, and AC – where would the money be better spent? On people having their say (which they can do in a multitude of other ‘free’ ways) or on helping children at a time in their lives that will pay dividends later on?

    Shame on you if you don’t believe your own leader’s rhetoric about investing in “social capital”. Shame on Russel Norman if he can so easily set aside his core beliefs for political expediency.

  8. Viv K says:

    To complain about $9 million, when the government has already spent $115 million, is ridiculous. How many children could have been helped with $115 million Tracey?

    From Russel Norman’s press release on 25th August.
    “Newly released figures show that Treasury spent $28 million on the sale of Mighty River Power, the company itself spent $12.8 million, and bonus shares cost a further $25 million. That brings the total cost to $65.8 million. Also the latest update from Treasury brings the total cost of the asset sales so far to $115 million, not including the interest-free loans to Meridian buyers. That money should have been spent on important public services, not wasted on brokers’ fees, lawyers, and ad men”

    Russel is not setting aside his core beliefs Tracey. He is trying to stop future asset sales to stop even more money being wasted on, as he says, “brokers’ fees, lawyers & ad men” and the blatant ‘buy now pay later’ bribe to get people to buy Meridian shares. That’s after we saw $30 million GIVEN to Rio Tinto.
    As Andrew Geddis said this morning, the referendum is really just a very expensive opinion poll and as AC said, bringing the election date forward a bit would save the money anyway.

  9. pdm says:

    vivk said – `Russel is not setting aside his core beliefs Tracey.’
    I agree – Russel’s core belief is to oppose everything the current government puts through the legislative process.

    AC – you miss HP’s point that it is not the role of Members Of Parliament to drive referenda using taxpayers money.’ GD’s last sentence sums it up perfectly.

  10. Armchair Critic says:

    Based on your comments over the last few years, pdm, I am certain that you are bright enough to know that I’ve not missed HP’s point at all. I know what she is suggesting, and I am disagreeing with her.

  11. TraceyS says:

    Try and sell your house without incurring some costs Viv. There are always costs involved in selling major assets. $115m represent 6.89% of the $1.67b contributed from the sale of MRP shares. As a business person I don’t really have a problem with that.

    Taking an attitude that says $x was spent over here on one process and that was a lot so spending another $z over there is justified – is just nonsense. The former was spent with a purpose to free up funds, the latter will not provide funds to help educate kids at all.

  12. Dave Kennedy says:

    MYTH BUSTING

    Myth 1: The greens subverted democratic process by using government funds to collect signatures for the referendum.

    The Government used $100 million of government funds to promote and progress the asset sales and the Green Party used a tiny fraction of that to give people the democratic right to express their view on the sales (remember most polls before the election indicated that most people were opposed). This is supporting a democratic process, not subverting it.

    Myth 2: $9 million (if that is the actual cost) on a referendum is a huge waste of money.

    Democracy always has a price and I would be happy to pay $28 (my share of the cost as one of the 320,000 signatories) to allow everyone a say. The cost for each registered voter will be less than $3. Poor governance has already cost much more ($30 million for the Novopay debacle due to poor implementation oversight).

    Myth 3: National already had a mandate to sell the assets

    National has as much a mandate to sell the assets as John Banks has to be in parliament. There is a slim legal mandate, but no moral one when:
    -Around 70-80% of those polled before the election were against the sales.
    -National only received 47% of the vote
    -99% of the submissions were against the enabling legislation.
    -Treasury advised against them and recently warned the Government not to sell Meridian so soon after the Mighty River sale.
    -In many countries or institutions a 65% majority is needed to pass something of significance.

    Myth 4: The referendum will probably have a low turnout and not be an accurate indication of voter opinion.

    Any referendum is as valid for indicating voter preference as an election. Every registered voter has an opportunity to use their vote and if the referendum comes out actually supporting the sales that will indicate where the strength of feeling lies. Those who don’t vote can not be used as an argument to discredit the result.

    Myth 5: The Greens and Labour are hypocrites if they want this referendum to carry weight when they didn’t change the legislation after the smacking legislation.

    The referendum never asked for a change in legislation, just protections for those who are generally good parents. The wishes and intent of the people were actually accommodated in section 59. The bill had cross party support (unlike the asset sales) and John Key himself amended the bill to protect those parents from unnecessary convictions. Nigel Latta was employed to review the law to ensure it was working as people expected it to, and it was.

    Myth 6: The petition was hijacked by the Greens for their own political interests.

    There was definitely a joint effort in Southland to collect signatures that involved members of the CTU, Labour Party, Grey Power and the Greens. Our local Grey Power leaders are passionate about the issue as they see the sales as selling of the legacy their taxes helped to build for future generations. The prominence of the Greens was more about their ability to organise than any attempt to take over the campaign.

    Myth 6: If the petition was so well supported it shouldn’t have taken to attempts to get the numbers.

    Petitions involve a lot of work to collect and this one has managed to get more than any petition before. The smacking petition also had two attempts and got a two month extension of time. The asset sale petition did not need an extension and managed to collect all the signatures in the original allotted time frame. I have collected signatures for a number of petitions and this was by far the easiest to get support, practically all who signed were against the sales.

  13. robertguyton says:

    What a lot of heat here in the homepaddock, and scent too, that of fear, I’m picking.
    If you were confident that the country backs the asset sales, you’d be so relaxed you’d not even bother to post on it.
    You’re not at all confident that you have the people of New Zealand with you, and so you are frightened by the referendum and attempting to demean every aspect of it.
    It’s very revealing.
    Nor are any of you confident that your Key-led Government will win the coming election, hence the edge to your fear.
    I can ease your worries.
    The referendum will show that New Zealanders oppose Key’s asset sales.
    The election will be convincingly won by the Left-wing coalition.
    There. Now you can all ease off, in the certain knowledge that you can’t do anything about the inevitable.

  14. Armchair Critic says:

    It’s amusing that quite a number of blogs written by supporters of our National government have written posts, recently, which say “Labor in Australia are about to lose the election, so Labour in New Zealand will also lose the election.”
    The first part is very very likely (Labor will lose), but the interpretation fails after that.
    I think the pattern is as follows – “the government in Australia is about to lose office, so the government in New Zealand will also lose office at the next election.”

  15. robertguyton says:

    Some people are calling the exercise pointless, on the basis that the referendum is not binding and that the government can make the vote irrelevant by delaying it and selling everything. They’re wrong. The point of a non-binding referendum is to publicly warn the government to change its course. The results will matter, in that they will be a direct threat to National’s Ministers that continuing down this road will see them lose power (and their inflated salaries). But its not just them it threatens – it should also sharply focus the mind of National’s long tail of junior Ministers and backbenchers on their political futures: whether they will achieve their desired promotions in a third term, or whether they will have a future at all. For some, this referendum signals the loss of $140,000 a year (plus perks) – providing them with a strong incentive to oppose this policy from within.

    Its also a tool to focus public anger. And seen in that light, every arrogant statement John Key makes that the referendum is a waste of money (unlike the $100 million in pork he’s already given to his finance industry cronies) and that asset sales will continue regardless of what us dirty peasants think is helping to build that anger, and signing his own political death warrant. New Zealanders don’t like arrogant politicians, and this is reminding everyone of what John Key really is.

    Finally, a successful referendum provides a mandate for policy reversal. A strong showing will give opposition parties a base from which to demand renationalisation (ideally at a loss to the thieves), and to impose a referendum requirement on future sales. And that mandate will be even stronger if Key deliberately runs a fire sale to circumvent the referendum process.
    Says I/S@NoRightTurn.
    Good comment too.

  16. Armchair Critic says:

    I think it has been subverted AC. Peter Williams on One News this morning called it the petition against asset sales.
    Peter Williams the newsreader? He’s hardly an expert on such things, all he does is repeat what he sees on a teleprompter. Citizens Inititated Referenda are, by their very nature, political. Pretending otherwise indicates forgetfulness, or naivety, or malice, and possibly combinations of the three.

    It was not a petition against asset sales. It was a petition for a referendum on assets sales. This does not mean every person signing it is against it.
    You are probably correct to say that some of the people who signed the petition is against the asset sales program. It’s irrelevant, though.

    < Just shows how public perception has been shaped by the politicians’ actions.
    As it has previously, and will continue to be.

    Many people I know have a qualified opinion, ie. “yes, if….” or “no, but….”. Will a referendum capture all that? I think it is the bit that follows ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that really matters.
    That’s not how the CIR process works. It looks like the Act was poorly put together back in the day. It doesn’t surprise me that this particular piece of poor legislation is National’s.

    Of particular interest is what will be done with the sale proceeds.
    That’s also irrelevant, and nothing to do with the referendum question. It would be nice to see the government explaining/losing what will be done with the proceeds. I hope they are silly enough to break the “when in a hole, stop digging” rule.

    The $9m+ referendum expenditure could be used to quadruple the amount of additional money (see my comment above) for children struggling with literacy and numeracy in their first two years at school – from $3m or $150 pa for each child in need – to $600 per child pa. Now $600 would be enough to really make a difference.
    Very good Tracey. Then they would be able to read greats like “John sells the family silver”, “Paula punishes the poor” and “Let’s go to Australia”.

    Tell me Dave, Viv, and AC – where would the money be better spent? On people having their say (which they can do in a multitude of other ‘free’ ways) or on helping children at a time in their lives that will pay dividends later on?>
    Tell me why it has to be a dichotomy? How is it that the government won’t fund both?

    Shame on you if you don’t believe your own leader’s rhetoric about investing in “social capital”.
    My leader, Tracey? I don’t have a leader; I’m not a member of any political party. I’ve decided to vote National at the next election, though. So perhaps by “your leader” you mean John Key. In that case you would be correct, I don’t believe his rhetoric. And I haven’t heard him say much of substance on “social capital”.

    Shame on Russel Norman if he can so easily set aside his core beliefs for political expediency.
    As above, it’s not a dichotomy, except possibly in your imagination. Russel has not “set aside his core beliefs”.

  17. Viv K says:

    ‘Try and sell your house without incurring some costs Viv’. It would be dumb to sell my house Tracey, my family and I need it to live in. Sure I would get money in the short term, but I’d need to pay rent forever more and be vunerable to price hikes in the future. Just as it is dumb to sell off energy generating assets and be vunerable to future energy price hikes.

  18. Armchair Critic says:

    Ha! I was sure you would pick up on that, Viv K. And you did. Since Tracey S is a business person, she will understand completely that it is not unusual to call a Special General Meeting when the Board is proposing to pursue a controversial policy. She will also understand that if the Board ignore the shareholders, they will inevitably be dismissed and replaced at the first opportunity.

  19. homepaddock says:

    Viv – If you were deep in debt, and had a second house,a crib or other non essential assets it would be sensible to sell some of them.

    AC – SGMs are unusual, especially if the board has campaigned on the policy and have another AGM with the opportunity for reappointment or dismissal coming up.

  20. Viv K says:

    A modern economy is totally dependent on energy to function. Energy companies are essential assets, especially those, like Meridian, that you don’t have to use overseas funds to buy fuel for. Its a no brainer, you don’t sell stuff like that. If I was deeply in debt, I would be doing all I could to earn extra money. I would be stupid to do the equivalent of giving tax cuts to the wealthiest, instead I would introduce a CGT. I certainly wouldn’t be giving money to the likes of Rio Tinto or handing out interest free money for others to buy shares.

  21. Armchair Critic says:

    SGMs are unusual Ele, and so are CIRs.
    I’d like to see an argument that supports National ignoring this CIR. I reckon they would do so at their peril.

  22. robertguyton says:

    Key is on flimsy ground if he thinks that an election win justifies everything subsequently done by the election winner on the basis that issue A or issue B was a ‘major policy plank.’ Let me quote a recent Economist editorial that cautions against what it calls majoritarianism —the belief that ‘electoral might always makes you right.’ Voting is an important democratic right, the editorial says, but ‘it is not the only one. And winning an election does not entitle a leader to disregard all checks on his power.’

    The Economist was not referring to New Zealand and John Key; it was referring to the abuse of democracy by the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Opposable Thumb has this and more good observations to make.

  23. TraceyS says:

    The same issue that the opposition campaigned on and lost last election is the same issue that they want to campaign on in the next. What will be the outcome? I guess this will depend on whether people are more, or less, comfortable with partial state assets sales than they were in 2011. The Green Party is doing everything it can to make people feel uncomfortable when it should be working on it’s own policies.

  24. Dave Kennedy says:

    The Green Party is doing what it should as an opposition party, challenging the Government to justify its actions. Interestingly we often don’t get the answers we should.

    As for working on our own policy, it is clear that you have no understanding of how our party operates, we have three main parts to our party organisation; Caucus, Executive and Policy Network, all are given equal weighting. Policy work is ongoing and we have a number of policy reviews occurring at any one time and I was recently involved in reviewing our education policy. Every year we have well attended policy conferences. Our MPs cannot make up policy themselves, but can be involved with the process as any member can. https://www.greens.org.nz/node/18321

    Remember we were the only party at the last election who had fully costed our election policy package. https://www.greens.org.nz/sites/default/files/fiscal_implications_november_6_2011_0.pdf

    As with the fiscal management of our own party we like to ensure that spending doesn’t exceed income.

  25. homepaddock says:

    Punitive taxes and printing money are fiscal mismanagement.

  26. TraceyS says:

    The Green Party will be remembered come election time as the “anti-asset-sales party”.

  27. Dave Kennedy says:

    Ele, our policies are accessible, please quote what you believe the punitive taxes and printing money policies in question.

  28. Dave Kennedy says:

    Given that even current polls show that over 60% of New Zealanders are opposed to asset sales, this could be useful :-)

  29. jabba says:

    there is a chance that the Gweens, with their mates in Labour/Winny1st/Mana, will make up the next Govt. I’m glad that David, Viv and our bOb are demanding an open Govt who have to justify their actions. I wonder if they will visit here as often once THEIR Govt start to implode.

  30. TraceyS says:

    Viv – you neglect to mention that you could invest part of the funds after getting your debt into a manageable situation. You could rent or downsize in order to get back on your feet, or just accept a more modest asset base.

    Plenty of poor people have to sell assets. My mother sold her family jewellery when we were kids. Sure she could have just gone and got a University education and a well-paid job, but the need was too pressing.

    To say “[i]f I was deeply in debt, I would be doing all I could to earn extra money” really shows your distance from the working class. You must know that this is not always immediately possible.

    AC – the Government is the shareholders elected representative. They are doing what they were elected to do. So no need for the SGM. If they had not stated they would do this before the election, then your argument would be fair enough. But they did.

  31. Armchair Critic says:

    As she didn’t name any particular party I thought Ele was referring to National party policy.

  32. TraceyS says:

    Yep, if they were all one-issue voters. You yourself have said lots of voters didn’t like asset sales in 2011 but still voted for National. Why do you think it would be any different in 2014?

    Your hope is predicated on a shift towards one-issue voting.

    I give people more credit.

  33. Armchair Critic says:

    320,000 registered voters believe there is a need for an SGM Tracey.

  34. Dave Kennedy says:

    You are right, Tracey, people don’t generally vote on one issue, hence the need for the referendum. Even many who actually voted for national opposed the asset sales. It was interesting to see the response to John Armstrong’s piece where he defended John Key’s stance regarding the referendum, most commenters disagreed with him. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/best-of-political-analysis/news/article.cfm?c_id=1502734&objectid=11118465

  35. TraceyS says:

    “…people don’t generally vote on one issue, hence the need for the referendum.” On every issue where there is contention?

    That’s good to know you feel that way Dave. Will keep this comment to remind you, if ever needed in the future.

  36. TraceyS says:

    Well if that does turn out to be the case jabba, I’m really looking forward to the next CIR.

  37. Dave Kennedy says:

    You are just being dishonest when deliberately misrepresenting me like this Tracey. I did say ‘the’ referendum and it was in reference to this one highly contentious issue.

  38. TraceyS says:

    Oh you are being oversensitive! Did you not see my question mark?

    Since when did asking a question of someone become misrepresenting them?

    (I hope the question doesn’t offend you btw).

  39. TraceyS says:

    Really? I didn’t see that option on the petition form!

    Anyone who signed that thinking it would give them the powers of voting at a SGM was quite misled weren’t they AC? I hope you weren’t involved.

  40. Viv K says:

    “I would be doing all I could to earn extra money” really shows your distance from the working class”
    You never let a chance go by to remind us that you were a working class battler and no one else is qualified to comment on being poor or in debt. It was Ele who brought up debt when she said “If you were deep in debt, and had a second house,a crib or other non essential assets it would be sensible to sell some of them.”
    I responded…
    The main points being 1. Energy generating companies are ESSENTIAL assets (unlike a crib)
    2. When in debt you try to earn more money, if a government you don’t give away money in tax cuts to the wealthy ,interest-free loans to buy shares or grants to international companies who make billions in profit.

    I actually think that the National party know full well that energy companies are essential and that renewable ones especially are valuable to own. That’s exactly why they want their supporters to own them and not the citizens of this country.

  41. TraceyS says:

    “…and no one else is qualified to comment on being poor or in debt.”

    Ha Viv, I have never said anything of the sort!

    “I actually think that the National party know full well that energy companies are essential….[t]hat’s exactly why they want their [National] supporters to own them and not the citizens of this country.”

    How exactly would the Government achieve this? Or know for that matter? I didn’t see a box on the registration form to tick for political preference. It’s a very spurious claim.

    You do realise that National supporters are citizens right? And that citizens in general still own 51%? And that you could have purchased your individual portion of the rights to future dividends off the Government for then $371, or today for $334?

    No worries if you couldn’t afford to. In this case you will most likely still get the benefits of the 51% of dividends. Whereas those who could afford to buy shares will most likely just get slapped with more tax if you have your way.

    (I didn’t buy any btw. But I’m most happy that I can at any time, even if it’s just a few).

  42. robertguyton says:

    Oh dear, Tracey. There’s blood in the water and you are thrashing about is if there are no sharks.
    Be still!

  43. Viv K says:

    Some of National’s supporters are NZ citizens, the rest are international corporates. Telling me I could have bought MRP shares indicates you still don’t understand the big issue that many people object to being told we can buy back something we already owned, it’s a rip off. Selling off, even part, of an asset that generates energy, without needing to buy fuel, is stupid money management.

  44. TraceyS says:

    Robert, I’m just glad you don’t regard me as one of them :)

  45. Armchair Critic says:

    No amount of pedantry can get you away from the fundamental point that 320,000 voters want to challenge one of the government’s main policies. I’m thrilled at the lack of direction shown by the government and its supporters. Your contribution, to which I am replying, is the poorest I’ve seen.

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