Quotes of the year

December 31, 2014

Offering to trade fines for sexual favours is not simply sleazy as the judge seemed to view it. It’s about a principle which is absolute, regardless of its nature or monetary dimension. It behoves the Police Commissioner to appeal against this ridiculous sentence so wiser heads can send a vitally important message, namely that corruption is corrosive, strikes at the heart of civil society and will absolutely not be tolerated. Sir Bob Jones

“I love to observe how they process the high school situation. Over the last couple of months I’ve just started to realise that, wow, people in the real world don’t care if your legs aren’t perfect.” Lorde

”I find the chances of it being stolen are pretty minimal, but the chances are even more minimal of it disappearing by itself through two paddocks surrounded by deer fencing,” Bill Keeler

It’s been said that the New Zealand economy is likely to be the “rock star” of 2014 but we all know what happens to rock stars who spend all their money on having a good time. I’ve said it before – the only way we’re going to become a top-tier First World country is by growing the pie.

Sadly, we’ve always been much better at eating them. – Colin Espiner

To judge the dead may give some comfort to the living, but no matter how fervently the misdeeds of previous generations are condemned, they cannot be undone. Therefore, whatever justice we seek to do here and now, let it be to right the wrongs of the present – not the past.

We fair-skinned Polynesians are not – and can never be – “Europeans”. Just as contemporary Maori are not – and can never be again – the Maori who inhabited these islands before colonisation. Both of us are the victims of historical forces too vast for blame, too permanent for guilt.

And both of us have nowhere else to go.Chris Trotter

 

Just 380,000 individuals pay half of all income tax.

If you earn more than $80,000 you are in that group. Most tax is paid by businesses through corporate tax or receipted GST payments. Possibly 80 per cent of the country is taking more from the state than they are contributing.If you are a net contributor most of your money will go to paying for the welfare of others.Most of those who seek to reduce their tax obligations are net contributors to our society. The only complaints against them are they do not pay enough.Beneficiary cheats, by contrast, are providing nothing to start with and seek to enrich themselves further by deception and dishonesty.Judges understand this, which is why beneficiary cheats go to jail for longer, as they should. – Damien Grant

Democracy, certainly at candidate selection level, isn’t generally a process of exquisite delicacy, scrupulous manners and sensitivity to hurt feelings. Oftentimes it’s just a few steps removed from full-on internecine civil warfare, albeit conducted largely out of sight. – Southland Times commenting on Labour’s selection process for the Invercargill electorate.

“The other analogy I have learned quite a lot is this idea that life’s like the drafting race because you learn quickly, farming, all the things that begin with D like drenching and drafting, docking and dagging, getting into debt and dealing with DOC. If you go up the drafting race, even for a ewe you have to look good: You mustn’t limp, head up, eyes forward don’t show your teeth if they aren’t terribly good, clean bum, good digestion, good tits – the whole way – because you want to go to the right, to the mixed age ewe mob, because [then] you get kind dogs and good food. Straight ahead is not much fun because you will end up a chop on the table. – Christine Fernyhough

“Nah, no tear in the eye. I’m from south Dunedin,” he grinned. Brendon McCullum

‘‘A government is a periodic monopoly that needs the threat of other entrants to get it going.’’ – Bill English

We must avoid complacency that might flow from believing today’s good times are permanent.

We don’t want to make a habit of doing the hard work under pressure, then putting our feet up just when the serious long-term gains are within our reach.Bill English

If there are going to be on the ground and social media campaigns, they needs to be led by Australians.  We need to get Australians saying that they want the best products at the best price.  We need Australians to demand choice instead of supermarkets telling them what they’re allowed to buy.  We also need Australians to see how deeply cynical the supermarkets are by reinforcing the values we share, namely, freedom of choice.  This needs to turn Coles and Woolworths market research on its head and hit them where it’ll hurt the most; market share.  That’s the only language they understand.  It is also by reinforcing that Kiwis are kin, something the centennials of the Great War will strongly affirm. – Bruce Wills

Personally, I’ve never heard of an economy taxing its way to greatness but I have sure heard of economies taxed into oblivion.Willy Leferink

And perhaps that’s the every day wisdom of parents at the fore – it’s the minestrone soup solution of life – if you’re short of meal options, throw all the vegetables into a pot, with a sprinkle of flexibility and the seasoning of life, and see what you come up with. – Tariana Turia

The notion that environmental protection and economic development are potentially conflicting goals is not, in my view, a recipe for success. It removes any expectation that businesses should take responsibility for protecting the environment; or that environmentalists need to consider social or economic costs of environmental outcomes.

In my world, economic and environmental considerations are two sides of the same coin. It is hard to be green if you are in the red; but you cannot have long-term social or economic prosperity if you undermine the natural capital you rely on to create it. – Lynda Murchison

People’s first consideration when buying food was price, despite claims they might buy based on factors like organic growth, she said.

While people might think buying organically or from the farmers market was environmentally friendly, research showed carbon dioxide emissions were higher buying that way, Prof Rowarth said. – Jacqueline Rowarth

. . . Even during booms some businesses will fail, and even during recessions some businesses will soar. That is because what ultimately determines the fate of companies is not whether the economy grows 1% or shrinks 1%, but the quality of management and their ability to anticipate and handle changing conditions be they for their markets, their inputs or their processes. . . Tony Alexander

Members of the Opposition believe monetary fairies can make the exchange rate settle permanently lower by forcing interest rate cuts and printing money while letting inflation therefore go up. Given the non-zero possibility that such economically ignorant policies get introduced it is worth getting inflation protection by investing more in property – not less. Tony Alexander

 The global financial crisis was the worst economic meltdown in living memory.

“The 1987 crash was a a blip on the charts by comparison.”

On top of that, the Christchurch earthquakes dealt a massive hit to the government books. “The mythical observer arriving from Mars who saw the accounts in balance after two thumping great shocks like that – you’d have to say someone had navigated pretty smoothly through that.” Donal Curtin

Two thirds of the [welfare] liability came from people who first got a benefit under the age of 20. “So it confirms what grandma told you. “Don’t let those young people get off the rails because when they do it’s very expensive.” – Bill English

That it can sweetly awaken, and joyously strengthen and that you need to give it to get it. Sarah Peirse answering the question: what do you know about love?

“I don’t think our native species care too much as to whether it is public land or private land. Whether it be iwi, or whether it be Sir Michael Fay, what we’re interested in in these partnerships is maximising conservation gain.” Nick Smith

Federated Farmers is an apolitical organisation – “we don’t care who is in government as long as they agree with us”.Conor English

. . . Taxes are not the price we pay for a civilised society. At best they are the price we pay for a civilised government. But they are also the price of overly bureaucratic procedures, unpredictable outcomes, and the loss of freedom to make our own decisions. – NZ Initiative

I make no apology for being a male. I hope I’m seen as a considerate, compassionate and communicable male; I make no apology for that. If I have faults, and I’m sure I do, well I don’t think  I can blame my gender for my behaviour without it being a cop-out. There ain’t nothing wrong in being a bloke if you behave yourself properly! – Chris Auckinvole

Mr Speaker, my second point I wish to make is the importance of valuing hands on learning within our education system. We must appreciate these very important students who in the future will fix things, build things, be it trucks, motor cars, be it buildings, be it bridges, roads, essential infrastructure and all manner of other things.

To do this the education system must equally value these people as much as we do doctors, nurses, lawyers and accountants and design an education curriculum accordingly. Putting it simply, we want to create many Einstein’s, but to create an Einstein you also need 1000 skilled technicians to make those things. – Colin King

“Talking about ponies and horse races, if you think of the economy as a horse race, you know it would be silly to put the hobbles on one of the leading horses so the rest can catch up,”Alister Body.

“I don’t think a party that’s on the extreme edges one way or another is going to be beneficial for Maori,” . . . “I think we as Maori also need to realise that compromise is a part of political involvement in New Zealand politics,”  . . .  Dr Lance O’Sullivan.

. . . if democracy means anything, it means suppressing the savage within and submitting the issues that divide us as individual citizens to the judgement of the electorate as a whole. Even more importantly, it means accepting that collective judgement – even when it goes against our individual contribution to its formation.Chris Trotter

HONG KONG | How did this small city-state of 7.3 million people go from having a per-capita income of only a few hundred dollars per year to a per capita income that is equal to that of the United States in only 50 years? The simple answer is they had the British common law legal system, strong private property rights, competent, honest judges, a non-corrupt civil service, very low tax rates, free trade and a minimal amount of economic regulation. There was no big brother government looking after the people, so they had to work hard, but they could keep the fruits of their efforts. . . Richard W. Rahn

One of our human limitations is that we look at the problems ahead through the eyes of our current technology and from this perspective they can look overwhelming. This myopia traps us into negativity – we think we must go backwards to achieve our goals – Dr Doug Edmeades

For the health-conscious, the prevailing wisdom is that natural food is the best food. But no matter what studies of GMOs say, one scientific fact is inescapable: basically none of our dietary staples are natural. Some 10,000 years ago, our ancestors picked tiny berries, collected bitter plants and hunted sinewy game, because these are the foods that occurred naturally in the wild. Then came agriculture, and with it the eventual realization that farmers could selectively breed animals and plants to be bigger, hardier and easier to manage. David Newland

. . . Most of all they should embrace the modern age and recognise that social and economic salvation and uplifting the underclass does not simplistically lie in ever increasing taxes on the industrious and thrifty and their transfer to the indolent. There’s nothing positive or progressive about that. . . Sir Bob Jones

We think it’s pretty legal, we think these guys are just having a crack and have a bit of an eye for the main chance because it’s an election campaign. – Steven Joyce

I won’t be wanting to see any hint of arrogance creeping in.” . . .

. . . “One of the big messages I’ll be wanting to give incoming ministers and the caucus is that it is incredibly important that National stays connected with our supporters and connected with the New Zealand public.” John Key

“Make sure you know why you’re in it – politics is not about celebrities. And nurture your self worth.

“You can’t afford to mortgage out how good or bad you feel because of tomorrow’s headlines.” – Julia Gillard

New Zealand is not perfect, but we do now have a multicultural society based on a bicultural heritage.Philip Burdon


Politics Daily

June 8, 2014

While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end.

You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

John Banks

Colin Espiner @ Sunday Star Times – Banks’ public fall from grace

Southland Times – The plank must look pretty good

Grant Shimmin @ Timaru Herald – Banks situation a right mess

Dominion Post – Hard lessons for all in Banks verdict

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Tweet of the Day – 8 June 2014

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Geddis on Banks

Michael Cummings @ Manawatu Standard – Stench of corruption may affect election

Rodney  Hide @ NZ Herald – They’re all winners more or less

Kerre McIvor @ NZ Herald – Shame sticks to both sides of this episode

Sunday star Times – Laughing all the way to the Banks

Labour Party

Chris Trotter @ Bowalley Road – The right divide

Election

Jon Sergeant @ Taranaki Daily News – Bad pre-election policy from Left

TV3 – Lisa Owen interviews Epsom candidates

Mike Williams @ NZ Herald – Higher voter turnout could topple Nats

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Mark or Mike? Doesn’t really matter the missing million isn’t really a million or missing

Cameron Slater @ Wahle Oil – Labour’s former general secretary isn’t hopeful for Labour

Economic Development

TV3 –  Lisa Owen interviews Steven Joyce

IMP

John Weekes @ NZ Herald – Dotcom to stand for parliament in 2017

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Dotcom wants citizenship so he can then become an MP

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Citizen Kim – yeah right

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Never going to happen

Other

Andrea Vance @ Sunday Star Times – What’s the real deal on the theories

Beehive – New Akaroa Marine Reserve opened
Minister of Conservation, Nick Smith, opened our newest marine reserve in Akaroa Harbour today. https://www.national.org.nz/news/news/media-releases/detail/2014/06/08/new-akaroa-marine-reserve-opened
Matthew Beveridge – Leaving on a plane

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Nashy’s pimped poor person makes the news, is a Mob associate and owns a pitbull

Steve Braunias @ Sunday Star Times – Secret diary of . . .  Julian Assange

David Farrar – Kiwiblog – Adult Community Education

TV1 – ACT Campaign Manager Richard Prebble on TV1’s Q+A


Better at eating than growing

February 3, 2014

Colin Espiner sums up the root of New Zealand’s problems:

It’s been said that the New Zealand economy is likely to be the “rock star” of 2014 but we all know what happens to rock stars who spend all their money on having a good time. I’ve said it before – the only way we’re going to become a top-tier First World country is by growing the pie.

Sadly, we’ve always been much better at eating them.

Any party which promises to spend more and tax more without growing more and which is more focussed on eating the pie than growing it will give us more than economic indigestion.

New Zealand’s growth is good by international comparisons but its fragile and its young.

We need sustained growth and responsible policies which promote that or we’ll be right back where we were at the end of Labour’s last term in government – in a recession of our own making.

 


Put down the sherry

January 19, 2014

Andrea Vance calls time on the silly season:

Everyone, please, put down the sherry and get a hold of yourselves. A dose of reality is necessary as the political year really kicks off this week. In the vacuum of the summer season, some fantasies about the outcome of this year’s election have taken seed.

Smacking is not going to be a defining election issue just because Conservative Party leader Craig says it is. He is the leader of a minor party, outside of Parliament.

Once the election campaign proper starts, and the mainstream party machines kick into gear, Craig will find he has to do more than put on a tinfoil hat to get media attention.

Speaking of crackpot strategies, was it the electoral roll of a parallel universe that was going to return Martyn Bradbury ahead of cabinet minister Nikki Kaye or Labour high-flier Jacinda Ardern in Auckland Central?

And since when did left-wing activists like Bradbury start whoring themselves out to businessmen who want to use their vast wealth to exert influence over the political and justice system? . . .

But perhaps we could wait until his policies and candidates are unveiled before prophesising his likely effect on the polls? . . .

Thankfully other commentators have failed to swallow whatever it is that blinds some to Dotcom’s faults.

Duncan Garner also recognises the silly-season affect:

There’s a reason why Kim Dotcom, Brendan Horan and Colin Craig are getting so many headlines right now: All the other politicians are on holiday, and simply don’t give a stuff.

They’re either at their beach houses or overseas, and politics is the last thing on their mind. . . .

So, right now those three are taking their chances with the media, but they will soon have to compete with the big boys and girls for space. It will get that much harder. . .

An internet party got seven percent in Germany, so his Internet Party can’t be written off. But it’s had a woeful start with a hopelessly organised failed launch. Still, it kept him on the front page, I suppose.

The Internet Party will be a place to put your protest vote against John Key, the spies, the establishment and the ruling elite. It could well be a party for those that feel disconnected to the mainstream, disconnected to politics and disenfranchised overall. That makes it a potential threat. But what will it ever achieve? Who will lead it? If Bomber Bradbury is its main advisor – where the hell is it heading? . . .

Sean Plunket says the internet party is amateur and vain:

The imminent but aborted birth of the country’s newest political party this week has been one of the most bizarre non-events in recent political history.

From the first tweet-fuelled rumblings of the human headline that is Kim Dotcom to the ignominious cancellation of the launch party, it has been a study in the politics of naivety and a glowing example of the gullibility of certain sections of the New Zealand news media and public. . .

What shortens the odds however is an uncritical celebrity-obsessed media full of self-appointed pundits and commentators who seem more than happy to entertain the idea that Kim Dotcom and his cronies might actually represent some meaningful and significant change in New Zealand’s political landscape.

Whilst it might rob the tabloid headline writers and breathless young television reporters of meaningless fodder for their daily dross, the cruel truth is as it stands the Internet Party is little more than an amateurish exercise in vanity politics perpetrated by a publicity-seeking convicted criminal. . .

Colin Espiner also says vanity is driving him:

. . . behind the ice creams and the fireworks, the offers to fund our next America’s Cup challenge or a new submarine fibre-optic internet cable, the extravagant parties to which we’re all invited and promises of free wi-fi for all, lies a narcissist desperate for popularity, relevance, and above all, respect.

It’s my opinion that Dotcom’s constant quest for omnipotence stems from his desire to make us – and the rest of the world – understand the value of his achievements (and they are many) while forgetting his criminal past as a computer hacker and convicted fraudster. . .

Fortunately for him, there was a ready audience, thanks to worldwide alarm at the antics of the US over its multi-national bulk spying via mass data collector PRISM and its subsequent exposure by whistle-blower Edward Snowden – and other spying scandals uncovered by WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange.

Dotcom has been quick to associate himself with both.  . .

Dotcom likes the parallels: all are fugitives from justice; campaigners for freedom of information; anti-state and pro-privacy.

The difference, however, between Dotcom and Assange and Snowden is that they released top-secret information held by governments and corporations because they believed it was in the public interest. They did it for free and they did it knowing they were likely to be arrested for it.

Dotcom presided over the world’s largest pirate website, which was shut down for repeated copyright violations he claimed to know nothing about. He made a fortune from it, and he has claimed that while he suspected Hollywood would come after him in the civil courts he never anticipated criminal prosecution.

Many seem to have missed the distinction. Dotcom to them is a hero, a wronged man, a champion of cheap internet and free speech. Money has helped him get the media onside. He cooperated with Herald journalist David Fisher for a largely favourable book about him, thus also ensuring ongoing coverage from the country’s biggest newspaper.

He’s courted other journalists, too . . . 

But assuming it does eventually arrive, will Dotcom’s Internet Party wreak havoc on the election result? Actually, I don’t think so.

Dotcom’s political publicity vehicle is likely to appeal to internet-savvy young people alienated from mainstream politics who haven’t voted before. Therefore it’s unlikely to pull support off the existing major and minor parties. So unless it reaches the 5 per cent threshold – a huge hurdle – or wins an electorate seat, that first-time vote will simply end up wasted.

Because Dotcom himself can’t stand, the chances of any other candidate put up by him winning a seat in their own right are extremely slim.

But that won’t bother Dotcom. His endgame is not a career in politics. . . 

Matt McCarten picks up on the vanity too:

Cynicism suggests Dotcom’s motivation is more about ego and self-interest. . .

By naming his party the Internet Party Dotcom ghettoises himself around a narrow set of issues. . .

Until now, Dotcom has had a dream run from the media. He has become a folk hero. But now he is in the political arena, he’ll get a rude shock. He’ll be treated like every other politician.

The perception Dotcom will have to overcome is that the Internet Party isn’t some plaything of a rich egotist who made mega-millions exploiting other people’s talent and creativity without paying for their work. . .

Dotcom hopefully knows voters want their political parties to serve the people, not platforms for rich men seeking self-aggrandisement. New Zealanders are old-fashioned like that.

Dotcom wouldn’t be the only would-be politician to be driven by vanity but those who make it have a lot stronger foundation on which to build their campaigns than that.

Now the silly season is about to close he’ll find the media have a few more serious contenders and issues on which to focus too.


This isn’t a recipe for growth

January 16, 2014

Colin Espiner interviews Labour’s finance spokesman David Parker and finds that:

If Parker is holding the country’s purse strings after this year’s general election, there’s plenty he wants to change. The top tax rate would be 39% on income over $150,000, although the company rate would be unchanged at 28% (and no, he doesn’t think that would encourage tax evasion). He’d introduce research and development tax credits, a living wage of $18.40 an hour for state-sector workers, a higher retirement age and a 15% capital gains tax.

This isn’t a recipe for growth.

Increasing the top tax rate is merely pandering to the sock-the-rich politics of envy. Those on the top tax rate already pay far more than their fair share of tax and adding the burden will increase tax avoidance as it always has in the past.

Treasury and Brian Scott have shown the flaws in the living wage concept.

Only a small proportion of those who get less than that now are single-income families and they get top-ups through Working for Families. Anything they gain through an increase in pay they’d lose through losing WWF. there’s not even any gain for the taxpayer, they’d be paying less in WFF but more in wages.

I’m not opposed to a capital gains tax in theory but if it is to do any good it must be universal and replace other taxes. Labour’s will exempt the family home and will be on top of other taxes.

The underlying theme to all this – and what really seems to drive him – is recapturing the egalitarian spirit he believes we inherited but are slowly squandering. “Not just equality of opportunity,” he says. “I believe in equality of outcome. That doesn’t mean communism,” he adds, pre-empting my question. I ask it anyway. Doesn’t it? “No, no, no. I personally wish I had made more money for myself. I’m not a pauper but neither am I a super-wealthy person. I believe that people should be rewarded for their efforts.”

Redistribution won’t recapture the egalitarian spirit and equality of outcome is impossible without the state playing a far greater role in the economy and society than is desirable and that is communism which has failed.

The best ways to improve life is to have sustainable economic growth.

We won’t get that with more of the higher tax, higher spending policies which Labour promoted  through the noughties and which put New Zealand into recession well before the global financial crisis.


Fair? True?

July 13, 2013

Colin Espiner explains the anatomy of a coup and says of Labour leader David Shearer:

. . . Most people have no idea who he is, and those who do know think he’s a shambolic, equivocal, spineless ditherer with the political nous of a first-term MP. 

Shearer is a lovely man. I’d let him babysit my kids without hesitation. But to date he has revealed neither the fortitude nor the authority to lead a political party – let alone be a prime minister. . . .

Barry Soper is equally derisive:

Every time the hapless, Dithering David Shearer stood up in Parliament’s bear pit . . .

Is that fair? Is it true?


Powering back to socialist 70s

April 19, 2013

BusinessNZ calls the Labour/Green plan to nationalise electricity wholesalers economic vandalism.

Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says the proposal would destroy a functioning market and replace it with heavy-handed bureaucracy.

“Inserting an army of bureaucrats between power generators and retailers would destroy price signals, so prices would not reflect the cost of generation.

“In that situation, the taxpayer would continue to pay ever higher subsidies of the electricity system. This is not sustainable.

“The Electricity Authority said only yesterday that the electricity market is as competitive as it has ever been. It can always be improved, and this is where the focus should be.

“It’s only competition that can drive prices down. Governments can’t do this, not without subsidising the sector from taxes.

“A state-controlled sector as envisaged by Labour would drive out private investment. Why would the private sector invest in generators when the state can determine the prices they can charge, while subsidising state-owned competitors?

“The private sector power companies would have to seriously consider their future in the market. Those who have invested heavily would basically find their profits confiscated.

“Interfering in the market in this way would send a signal to the rest of the world that it is not safe to invest anywhere in New Zealand. The knock-on impact from that, on jobs and growth, would dwarf any short-term benefit from artificially reduced electricity prices,” Mr O’Reilly said.

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges says the Labour-Greens power plan is incoherent and will kill competition in the electricity market.

“Under the previous Government, electricity prices increased by 72 per cent. It has taken the National-led Government’s reforms to arrest these ridiculously steep increases on New Zealand households,” says Mr Bridges.

“The 2010 electricity market restructure is working. The market now has more players and much more competition than it ever had under Labour.

“New Zealanders are increasingly taking advantage of greater competition and are switching companies for a better deal – in some cases, saving up to several hundred dollars a year.

Since the Electricity Authority’s What’s My Number? campaign began in May 2011, there have been almost 700,000 consumer switches.

“Why scrap the whole electricity market when consumers can already save more than the economically illiterate promises the Opposition is making?

“These types of policies have been considered in the past and rejected for very good reasons. Consumers should be very afraid of them. They may look simple but all they will ultimately bring is higher costs to households,” Mr Bridges says.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce calls it a a half-baked Soviet Union-style nationalisation “plan”:

“This is truly wacky and desperate stuff obviously made up in the last minute in the Koru Lounge between comrades Norman and Shearer,” Mr Joyce says.

“Their crazy idea to have both a single national purchaser of electricity and to exempt Government-owned companies from both company tax and dividends would effectively demolish private investment in the electricity industry overnight. It would also raise real questions as to why any individual or company would want to invest in businesses in New Zealand.

“Even the idea of it is economic vandalism of the highest order, with the timing designed to try and disrupt the mixed-ownership company floats. What we are seeing here is a desperate Opposition that is prepared to sacrifice economic development in New Zealand on the altar of political opportunism.

“The sad truth is that Labour has no idea how to operate a competitive market that keeps downward pressure on prices. Labour made a number of reforms to the electricity market in the early 2000s and the result was power prices rising 72 per cent over nine years.

“This Government’s reforms have halved price increases while maintaining investment in generation and transmission. Labour’s suggestion today is no more than a belated apology for their mismanagement, with a back-to-the-70s solution that would only make things worse.

“You seriously have to question the quality of economic advice the Labour Party is getting. They really need to get a lot more serious if they are ever to be considered fit to manage the New Zealand economy.”

It’s not just the government questioning the policy.

Colin Espiner asks has Labour actually gone insane? As in stark, raving, Monster Loony Party mad?

I’m assuming the answer is yes, judging by today’s incredulity-creating announcement that, if elected next year, Labour will essentially nationalise the electricity industry. . .

The Opposition says it’s going to create a single buyer, NZ Power, that will buy all the country’s electricity generation “at a fair price” and then onsell it to consumers. 

It’ll pretty much give away a 300KW bloc to every household and then charge for additional units. 

At a stroke, Labour is proposing to dismantle the electricity market, ruin Contact Energy and Mighty River Power and decimate the Government’s share float plans for both MRP and Meridian. 

Oh, and sell thousands of mum and dad investors down the Mighty River, since MRP’s share price would almost certainly plummet if the company was forced to retail only through a government department at whatever price it deemed to be fair. 

Already Contact shares dipped 3 per cent on the news, and that’s just a taste of what would come if this policy was ever implemented.

I’m no fan of high power prices – and I don’t own any Contact or MRP shares – but what Labour is proposing is essentially nationalisation a la Brazil or Argentina. This is Third World, funny-money stuff. Goodness knows what the financial markets will make of it. And what message does it send to overseas investors? . . .

It’s extremely rare that I agree completely with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, but his comment today that the plan was “a return to the 1970s-style monopoly provision of electricity…Only North Korea and Venezuela did not think such ideas are nuts” is pretty much spot on.

I agree with Joyce that Labour is virtually sabotaging the economy. 

It is, in my view, also an indication that Labour does not believe it has any hope of winning the next election. In my experience, only political parties that know they have no realistic hope of winning an election propose things they know they will never have to try to implement. . .

There is no virtually about the economic sabotage this policy would inflict.

I was in parliament for Question Time yesterday.

The Government benches were enjoying themselves and Ministers made the most of the opportunity Labour and the Green Party gifted them:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The Electricity Authority yesterday released its review of the electricity market in 2012. The report showed 18 percent of customers, around 32,000 people a month, voted with their feet by switching electricity providers in 2012, presumably for lower prices. For the benefit of the Opposition, that is called “competition”. Since November 2008 annual electricity price increases have halved from the 8 percent year-on-year increases suffered by hard-working New Zealanders during the previous 9 years. This follows a number of pro-competitive reforms by this Government, which apparently the Opposition is not aware of. We have reconfigured State owned enterprise assets to increase competition, created the Electricity Authority and made it responsible for promoting competition, allowed line businesses to compete in the retail space, and funded promotion of consumer switching through the What’s My Number campaign.

Todd McClay: Has the Minister seen any other proposals to try to lower electricity prices?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, weirdly, yes, I have. Just before lunch today I received one report, which I believe came from the “North Korean School of Economics”. Apparently, the suggestion there was that nationalising the entire electricity industry would somehow lead to lower power prices. . .

That got a point of order call from Winston Peters to which the Minister responded:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: If I could perhaps clarify my answer, I should clarify that I received a report from the local branch of the “North Korean School of Economics”.

I’d like to believe Espiner’s theory that this is the policy of parties which know they’ll lose the next election and therefore never have to implement it.

The only other explanation is that the people promoting them are so economically illiterate they don’t understand what they’re talking about.

Either way, it shows they haven’t learned from history because these policies would power us back to the socialist seventies and it would be all downhill from there.


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