Expensive political stunt

The organisers of a petition to force a referendum on the partial sale of a few state assets say they have more than the 310,000 signatures required.

The signatures will have to be checked but with around 340,000 there will probably still be enough to force the referendum when invalid ones are removed.

It is nothing but a very expensive political stunt which, regardless of the result,  the government will ignore as it has a right to do.

National campaigned on the mixed ownership model and won.

Opposition parties, Labour in particular, campaigned against the issue and lost.

That doesn’t mean everyone who voted for National supports the partial sales policy nor that everyone who voted for other parties opposes it.

But voters aren’t voting for or against individual policies they’re voting for or against a package.

Enough people voted for National to enable it to lead a government and whether that was because of or in spite of the partial sales policy is irrelevant.

National won and the policy is a fundamental part of its economic programme.

The referendum will merely provide very costly publicity for the parties promoting it at our expense.


34 Responses to Expensive political stunt

  1. TraceyS says:

    “…the government will ignore as it has a right to do” and really must if not to set a precedent of governing by referendum.

  2. robertguyton says:

    ” regardless of the result, the government will ignore…”

    Both of you seem unable to see past the end of your blue noses.
    A Government is widely recognised by its supporters as bound to ignore the majority voice of the people they supposedly represent?

    Pause, reflect…think!

  3. Rob says:

    Just like the last Labour lot did. Wasn’t it 85% said they didn’t want a law against light smacking. And how many other efforts like this did the she beast ignore? eh
    Tell us Guyton.

  4. Andrei says:

    On this matter the ladies are correct Robert, asset sales were put on the table before the last election and the Government were given a mandate to proceed.

    For the love of me I don’t see why anyone gets upset over this, the only people it will matter to are the people who get to do the running of said assets and the scooping of the cream that comes with the gig. That will either be labour’s pals or National’s or those even more clever, those cunning enough to have both crews in their pocket.

    Rest assured you are unlikely to share in the spoils either way but with any luck your electricity will continue to flow at a price you can afford and that is all that matters

  5. Alwyn says:

    There was also the referendum that, with about 82% in favour, called for the size of Parliament to be cut to 99 MPs.
    Did anyone else notice the way EVERY party ignored the vote?
    Did anyone see a private members bill to implement the result?
    Has anyone ever seen a turkey vote for an early Christmas?

  6. Andrei says:

    It was National that ignored that referendum Rob but they are barely distinguisable from their predecessors so it is easy to get confused as to who did what

  7. robertguyton says:

    “For the love of me I don’t see why anyone gets upset over this…”

    Your admission explains your inability to understand the issue then, Andrei. The referendum will be held. The results will have to be addressed by the Government and the way they do that will speak volumes about their commitment to democracy. “The ladies” say National will ignore it. That’s damning.

    Rob – I don’t need to tell you, you’ve been told by Andrei.

  8. Richard says:

    RG- I saw on your blog a couple of days ago where you were describing the difference between your writing on other peoples blogs and the NZ Gardner :

    “I write for the NZGardener and enjoy doing so very much. I’ve just now been sitting thinking, and what I thought was, that when I blog, I don’t try to be especially readable, just pithy.

    Definition: “Pithy”: terse and full of meaning or substance.

    I think not.

    “Blather” might be better – talk with no real substance

    But Robert, you do write well in the NZ Gardner – to quote from your blog
    “I’m a gardening guy and therefore I am dirty. I have dirty trousers, often, and dirty shoes, usually. My socks are impregnated with dirt. I know I shouldn’t walk outside in them but I regularly do; to look at the progress of some bulb or other, or to empty some left-over herb tea onto a parched seedling, out I trot, in my socks. If I do take them off first, I get dirty feet and that ruines the snowy-whiteness of my sheets and I become unpopular. I’ve usually got soil in my hair as well; gritty stuff that comes from I know not where; I like to dig but I’m not a mole. I find it on my pillow some mornings, like a gardener’s halo. I don’t have a particularly expansive cultivation style, so how I come to be covered in dirt puzzles me. It’s like twigs. I get lots of twigs; down my collar, in my pockets, occasionally in my ears. How and when do they arrive at their final resting place bemuses me; I don’t fling them about like confetti. Or roll about on the forest floor. Much. It could be that I’m magnetic to forest duff. Dirt though, is my real issue. I have it under my nails on most days. Occasionally, I meet well-known people, important people, people who are clean. I shake their laundered hands and notice I have humus under my nails. Or clay. They notice too. I regard dirty nails as a sign that a politician can be trusted. I’ve only met a handful whose nails matched mine. Some evenings I feel tired from my day’s activities in the garden and wonder if that weariness comes from the weight of the soil I’ve been carrying around all day. Every gardener, farmer, labourer on a building site, knows that the heaviest soil of all is clay and the most debilitating place to have it, is clinging to your boots. Like the young flamingoes wading in the salt-lakes of Africa with their feet encased in great lumps of crystalised salt rendering them barely able to walk, a working man or woman can be slowed almost to a standstill by clay encrusted boots. It’s like being in one of those walking-in-molasses dreams. On days when the ground is gumboot-sticky, it’s best to stay right off it and wait til it loses it’s glug. The soil under my native trees I’ve noticed, never hitches a ride on my boots or bare feet. The thousands of leaves, twigs and flakes of bark that carpet the ground in my native area, haven’t the clinging habit of exposed soil, and cause me no bother. That non-attaching habit of soils in the forests of Aotearoa must have been appreciated by kiwi for millenia. A bird with feet the size of theirs would not last long on wet clay. Soil type and condition are critical considerations for gardeners. We are forever modifying what we’ve got; lightening-up heavy soils, providing some ‘guts’ to those that are light. Even the perfect soil needs attention if you’re drawing crops out of it. Soil and gardeners go hand in hand and one relies on the other to be the best they can be. I don’t mind carrying a bit of it around with me wherever I go – a smudge of dirt on my chin, collar or coat is a badge of honour to a dirty gardener like me.”

    Perhaps, Robert, you might like to apply your Gardener style writing to HP’s blog providing reasoning – for your “pithy” comments
    Have a good new year RG

  9. Andrei says:

    Robert the only issue is “What is the best way to reliably deliver electricity to keep the wheels turning in New Zealand”..

    This is an engineering issue fundamentally, and an economic one to a lesser extent.

    Politicians, doing what they do best of course, muddy the waters with emotion and the promotion of division using things like envy and prejeduce to fan the flames.

    The economic and engineering questions being complex and way way above the pay grade of the average politician don’t get much of a look in – still we usually muddle through

  10. TraceyS says:

    “But voters aren’t voting for or against individual policies they’re voting for or against a package”. I agree with that statement. Policies do not work in isolation.

    The referendum makes it possible for the majority to vote into power the government they want and then pick and choose among their policies. It’s actually giving a greater service to voters, the majority of whom voted for National. So is really benefiting National supporters and giving them more say. Letting them ‘have their cake and eat it too’! But I still don’t agree with it. It is not a healthy thing to promote. When my kids make a decision and a commitment I make them see it through. Unless they put up a really good case, that is, the case for not doing it is BETTER than the case for it. Whinging and whining alone don’t meet the criteria.

    It would be daft and condescending to now say to people “you voted for it, but we’re just going to check again to see if you might have changed your mind”. It’s just downright insulting to voters’ intelligence. The government should be congratulated for sticking with the plan – it cannot have been easy.

    Robert, you don’t know what the outcome of the referendum will be. Whether, with any validity, it may be interpreted as a wholesale rejection of the policy people voted for in 2011 will depend to a great degree on how the questions are worded.

    People are now also likely to be significantly influenced by negative media attention on the issue. That will introduce a definite bias to the results.

  11. JC says:

    “This is an engineering issue fundamentally, and an economic one to a lesser extent.”

    Yes indeed. There are no compelling reasons why the state should have ownership.. as most of the rest of the Western world acknowledges.

    In fact the US is currently predicting that its electricity use will increase by less than 1% over the next 30 years because of increased efficiencies, the natural gas boom etc.. no longer will electricity demand increase by 8% per year.

    We should be thinking about that and prudently be moving our money out of a mature market that hasn’t needed state support for decades.


  12. robertguyton says:

    Pithy, Richard? I took it to mean, “forceful and brief”.
    I will try not to blather.
    I wish you a good new year also.

  13. “National campaigned on the mixed ownership model and won.”

    National didn’t win a “majority” with 47.31%, they are the largest party in a coalition government allowed to govern under the current electoral system by joining forces with the Maori party, Act & United Future.

    The Maori Party’s position on asset sales is:

    “We do not support asset sales. I want to make that quite clear.”
    See (http://www.politicallycorrect.co.nz/2012/07/17/peter-dunne-ohariu-mp-tppa-tobacco/) for Peter Dunne’s bizarre opinions on asset sales. See (http://www.politicallycorrect.co.nz/2012/05/06/ah-banksie/) for the quality of John Bank’s decision making abilities.

    Let’s say all National voters (plus Act) agree with asset sales, i.e. 48.39% of the electorate – that leaves 51.61% who most likely don’t agree because they didn’t vote National… So, a minority of New Zealanders , i.e. 48% (which is lessened by the many National voters who don’t want assets sold) are trying to sell off the assets of the majority who don’t want them sold.

    It is a sad indictment on the current electoral system that a minority of the country can decide for the majority on such a huge issue that will affect generations to come. Incidentally, there are more advanced and evolving systems like Switzerland’s (near) direct democracy & Iceland crowdsourcing its new constitution.

    For John Key to pronounce ” we have a mandate” to sell (it’s in the name) ‘State Owned’ Enterprises, when the best outcome we’ve been given as to the benefits is from Bill English who admitted his SOE figures are just a guess (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10786103). English’s guess is also from February 2012 and the Treasury Budget Policy Statement for 2012 (http://www.politicallycorrect.co.nz/treasury.govt.nz/budget/2012/bps/bps12.pdf) points out the global economy and in particular Europe, were a concern. To say the least Europe has not improved – and to be fiscally honest, with bail out after bail out (with printed ‘money’), it is circling the drain.

    What are others, more qualified than Bill English and John Key saying if the sales go ahead?:

    A recently released Treasury report says:

    “Market capacity dictates that it is only practical to complete one sale of the size of these companies per half year”.
    And even that timeframe makes the programme “more vulnerable to a market downturn or a dip in a company’s performance”.
    Analysts say a tight timeframe for the sales could de-value shares.

    Grant Collie of Forsyth Barr:

    “If there is too much supply of shares on the market the natural school of thought could be that there’ll be less demand and that may put downward pressure on the price,”

    Doesn’t look good does it. Also, at a conservative estimate – looking at the percentages from the last election – at least 60% will vote against the sales; and the polls seem to agree.


    “It is nothing but a very expensive political stunt which, regardless of the result, the government will ignore as it has a right to do.”

    Let us continue with rational prudence and have the referendum, because allowing a minority to sell off our ‘State Owned’ Assets and the future benefits for our children is not the democracy of a modern forward thinking country like New Zealand – and woe betide National if the outcome is ignored.


    Full reply and links here: http://www.politicallycorrect.co.nz/2013/01/04/the-government-will-ignore-the-asset-sales-referendum-as-it-has-a-right-to-do/

  14. TraceyS says:

    Please no!

  15. robertguyton says:

    If I were to write a more lengthy, well-reasoned response to Ele’s post, as Richard suggests, I’d say what PoliticallyCorrect said above. Eloquently and accurately put, PC.

  16. TraceyS says:

    PC said the Maori Party’s position on asset sales is “We do not support asset sales. I want to make that quite clear.” I just wonder if that was quite clear right before the election when people voted.

    You did not reference that quote, but it was made after the election I think. If the Maori Party’s position was clear before the election then why did it need to be clarified afterwards? Did the parties which definitely opposed asset sales need to later clarify their stance, or had they already made it crystal clear?

    “…co-leader Pita Sharples said he would support the proposal if shares could not be overseas-owned”
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10762695. And then later changed the conditions a bit. That sounds like conditional support. It’s in a different category to being opposed outright to the whole concept.

    Didn’t the majority of voters vote for a National-led coalition and that is exactly what we got? To an ordinary person like me, that seems to be the reality. In such a coalition people probably understood that partial sales of some state assets would go ahead.

  17. Richard says:

    The Maori Party do not represent Maori. The Maori Party is just a product of MMP like NZ First. If you want to get a Maori view, the best representation would be the iwi leaders group chaired by Mark Solomon. Although iwi/ tribes have awful voting systems that the views of members are not represented

  18. robertguyton says:

    “Didn’t the majority of voters vote for a National-led coalition?”

    Nope. Voters voted for a party. The coallition was a matter for the politicians. That the Maori Party declared their opposition to asset sales should say to you that their supporters and the MP MPs oppose the sales still, given that you claim National has a mandate based on their pre-election statements.
    ” In such a coalition people probably understood that partial sales of some state assets would go ahead.”
    “people”? Those who voted for the Maori Party did so trusting that the party opposed asset sales. The MPs of the Maori Party surely hold to the claims they made pre-election, so that’s them out as well. Who are these “people” you believe “probably understood that partial sales of some assets would go ahead”, Tracey?

  19. Richard says:

    Robert – is this not an example MMP not working? – vote for a party with policy and then get into bed with another party post election and then change the policy – All parties have doing this and will do so until we are rid of MMP

  20. robertguyton says:

    No, not get rid of MMP, Richard. Demand integrity from your party. I do from the Greens and they respond with … integrity. I don’t expect the Greens, when they take their places on the Government benches following the next election, to ‘get into bed’ and ‘change their policy’. That’s why I support them.

  21. Richard says:

    Robert – you are dreaming or its a hot day in Riverton

  22. robertguyton says:

    It’s our hottest day this year by far, Richard. I understand why you can’t conceive of a party that has integrity, but I’m not so unlucky or as cynical as you are and have chosen to support a party for the very reason I described. I’ve tested the individual MPs face to face- from Jeanette Fitzsimons, Rod Donald, Nandor Tanczos, Sue Bradford and co, through to today’s Julie Anne Genter, Gareth Hughes, Steffan Browning and so on, and found them all to have the very thing I regard most important. Integrity.

  23. Richard says:

    Definitely the heat—

  24. TraceyS says:

    What I meant was people who knew that the Maori Party (or any other of the successful small parties) could end up doing a deal with either of the two main parties. Bluntly, that could lead to either no asset sales, or potentially asset sales. If voters definitely didn’t want asset sales under any circumstances then why take the chance of voting for a party that was prepared to coalesce with National?

    Can I ask, Robert, if you would have supported a party that said “no” to National’s partial asset sales policy, but was still prepared to enter a coalition with them? I think given your strong opinions against the concept, the answer would be “no”. That would be helping into power those who have said they are going to do something you really don’t like.

    Another thing to consider. Those who have signed the petition for a referendum might not all be against asset sales. I know several who just think the question needs to be put out there and would support a referendum for that reason. Not because they disagree with it in totality. More because they want to see detailed rationale, more information, and a greater opportunity to consider the issue.

    You can assume that your own strong opposition is shared by a great many others, but that is all it is, an assumption.

    In any case, I will be watching the outcome with great interest.

  25. robertguyton says:

    “I know several who just think the question needs to be put out there and would support a referendum for that reason.”
    That’s a very good reason to support the referendum, Tracey and it’s why I do.
    “In any case, I will be watching the outcome with great interest.”
    Me too!
    As to your question – I support a party that says no to asset sales and would say, in my opinion, no to a coalition with National, both strong positions and requiring integrity to maintain.

  26. TraceyS says:

    “The coalition was a matter for the politicians”. I have difficulty with that statement Robert. It has been playing on my mind for days.

    The politicians are put there by the people. A couple of times I supported small parties – in the hope that they would get enough votes to become a coalition partner. Never have I voted for a small party when I had a major problem with the likely main partner’s party policies. And it seems that you would not either.

    Realistic people do not vote for small parties in the hope that they alone would form the next government. MMP politics are entrenched now. We all know how it works (or we should). In fact, this is the only way that many younger people have ever known. People vote for parties yes, but they also vote for potential coalitions between parties just as definitely.

    People do not just vote for a party. They vote for representation. As an apparent fan of MMP it is rich for you to say this is a matter for the politicians. This is a crucial part of the democratic process and you downplay it. I imagine you would think that the Greens negotiating coalition matters would not just be “a matter for the politicians” but a very important aspect of democratic representation.

  27. TraceyS says:

    Yes Robert, I agree that the comment was well-written. But it is curious that the discussion here on homepaddock was rather lively whereas the post it stimulated over on politicallycorrect, in spite of over 70 views, attracted no comments.

  28. robertguyton says:

    All 70 agreed with PC.
    And they were correct to do so.

  29. robertguyton says:

    You are confusing yourself, Tracey by over-complication the issue.
    It’s simple to clarify though.
    Look on your voting form the next time you are in the ballot box.
    Is there a box that you can tick that says “National/Act/Maori/UnitedFuture’ ?
    If not, you can’t vote for a coalition.
    You might wish for a coalition of a particular combination, but you can’t vote for it.
    That’s up to the politicians, as I said at first.

  30. TraceyS says:

    You can if you know their intentions beforehand and you trust them to be true to those. National was upfront about the mixed ownership model before the election and is being true to the expectations created. No Robert, I am not confused.

  31. TraceyS says:

    Really? 81 views now, still 0 comments, and only 2 likes.

  32. robertguyton says:

    “vote for a party with policy and then get into bed with another party post election and then change the policy – All parties have doing this and will do so until we are rid of MMP”
    Clearly you don’t agree with Richard (below) then Tracey.

  33. TraceyS says:

    Just my point Robert. We have MMP and people know how it works. Like it or not, it delivers what we get by the way people vote.

  34. robertguyton says:

    You voted for John Banks to be in Government, Tracey?
    Shame on you!

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