tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

Gnashing of teeth

OK so most NZ folks on here will know that yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down a verdict that essentially give our government the go-ahead to start selling off state assets. First to go, Mighty River Power. After that, more power companies. Brace yourselves for power price hikes, kiwis.

Meanwhile, I'm curious where the petition to stop this bullshit is at. Here, it takes 10% of registered voters' signatures on a petition to initiate a referendum. You can see the referendum question at the bottom of that page. Last I heard, the petition was only 22,000 signatures short of forcing a referendum.

Yes, I know, referenda here are not binding, and this government is likely to ignore it anyway based on its track record. But they also know an election's coming up next year, and 80% of kiwis (the estimated number of those opposing asset sales according to some) saying "This is stupid, don't do it" may at least give them pause. Way I see it, it's about the only thing we have left that has a chance of stopping what I consider to be one of the dumber ideas this dumb government has come up with.

Back then, the government started off only doing partial privatisation as well, but it soon turned to full privatisation in many cases. Here's a specific Wellington example of the sort of thing that happened. Here's a rundown of all asset sales during that period. It's a lot, eh? If you read to the bottom of the first article, you'll see that that exercise ended up costing the NZ $8billion - and that's before we had to buy back Air New Zealand and NZ Rail and try to rebuild them after they'd been kicked around and run into the ground by foreign owners. Telecom ended up doing quite well, and providing us better service at reasonable prices* - and making giant profits that go into foreign pockets.

And this is one of my main beefs with the idea of a repeat performance. We implement "mixed ownership" which puts us at risk of a full privatisation. The companies that are up for sale (lets not beat around the bush here - these shares currently belong to us and soon they will belong to someone else) are currently returning 18.5% profits. Why would you sell something that's returning more than 5 times what you'd get if you put the money in the bank? That's.. arse backwards. In foreign ownership (and make no mistake, that's where most of the shares will go), that profit will go offshore. And it'll be our power bills - and our money to pay those bills - that finance the profits that are no longer going into state coffers. I cannot get my head around the stupidity of doing that.

And historically, state assets that have gone to foreign investors have ended up either like Telecom - an ok deal for kiwis with giant profits going to rich folks overseas - or like Air New Zealand - a dog's breakfast of neglect and poor management that deteriorates to the point where we're forced to buy it back or have no national airline (or rail company, or whatever), then spend shitloads of money trying to get it back to where it's a decent business again. NZ Rail is still pretty fucked tbh. Do we really want to repeat this cycle? I don't.

The government says it'll use the money from the sales to pay off debt and fund capital expenditure such as schools and hospitals. Only, it seems that at the moment they are more about closing schools, and the schools they want to open are charter schools. We all know how well that's been working overseas.

* I know there's some debate around the stranglehold Telecom seems to have on the communications network, but I don't know enough about it to comment on its implications related to not being state owned. Anyone who wants to fill me in, feel free.

I can't sign the petition again, I've already signed it. But if I were the folks behind the petition, I'd be using the swell of discontent at the Supreme Court's judgement (and the disgust at the Smarmy Git's smugness about it) to get that petition out there for another round of signatures. Force that referendum - at the least it'll delay the sale of assets until a bit closer to the election. At best, it may actually make these idiots see sense.
Tags: who voted for these idiots?

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