Lefties and greenies should look beyond asset sales to find the defining election issue

What happened to these privatised state assets? Oh, yes, they finished up in public ownership again.

Buckets of bollocks have been uttered about sales of state assets during the election campaign.

Labour’s Phil Goff – for example – has been banging on about them being gone for ever, once they have been sold.

So how come taxpayers are still pouring money into our state-owned rail company?

Alf was among the enthusiastic supporters of the Bolger government’s privatising New Zealand Rail Ltd back in 1993.

The bloody outfit went through a few name and ownership changes – Tranz Rail, Toll NZ – and continued to bleed money.

In May 2008 the Clark Government agreed to buy Toll NZ Ltd (less its trucking and distribution operations) for $665 million.

It has not been a nice little earner for taxpayers since then.

But it has shown that once an asset has been sold, it it is not necessarily gone for ever.

Then there’s the pap from lefties and greenies who over-state the importance to voters of asset sales.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman is one of these.

He says the future ownership of state assets had become “a defining issue” of Saturday’s election.

Citing polls that showed strong public opposition to

National’s plan to partially privatise four state-owned energy companies, Dr Norman said whoever led the next government must listen to New Zealanders and keep the assets in public ownership.

“To ensure voters are heard on this key issue, the Green Party will make keeping our public energy companies in public ownership a top priority in any post election negotiations; they are an essential part of our vision for a clean, green economy that works for everyone.”

Labour’s Grant Robertson more emphatically sees assets sales as “the defining issue” of the campaign.

Is anyone else surprised that National devoted their launch to talking about asset sales, a policy that the Sunday Star Times tell us this morning only 14% of the population support?

And to top that off, they tried to dress up a previously announced money-go-round as some kind of new fund.

We have been saying asset sales is the defining issue of the election, good to see National making sure it is.

Labour leader Phil Goff obviously believes this is so, because he is reported today to have ramped up the urgency of his message to undecided voters that a vote for National means waving goodbye to state-owned assets.

On the penultimate day of the campaign, Mr Goff spoke to voters and supporters in Christchurch about cuts to early childhood education funding, the squeeze on the low paid and beneficiaries and the need for skills training to help young New Zealanders into work.

However, the focus remained on stoking voters’ fears that National’s partial privatisation plan would leave New Zealand worse off over the long term.

Addressing workers at KiwiRail’s Hillside Workshops in Dunedin, he again pointed to opinion polls that have consistently shown widespread public opposition to selling off almost half of all four state-owned energy companies and national flag carrier Air New Zealand.

“But we’ve got a National Party that’s so arrogant that if they’re elected, they’ll be flogged off.

“A National Party that makes a decision that it’s going to sell assets when 80 per cent of New Zealanders are against it can’t be described in any other way,” he later told reporters.

Let’s think about this.

The polls show around 80 per cent of Kiwis are against asset sales.

But they also show around 50 per cent of Kiwis will vote for the party which is committed to selling the assets they went kept in state ownership.

Alf reckons you don’t have to be too bright to nut out that if asset sales were the defining issue, and if 80 per cent of Kiwis opposed them, then National would not be given a mandate to implement its sales policy.

But it looks like voters will be giving National a mandate to do exactly that.

And this – surely – means something else has or have been the defining issue(s).

One Response to Lefties and greenies should look beyond asset sales to find the defining election issue

  1. SHolland says:

    Who pays the piper calls the tune. I wonder if that is the IMF?

    Actually partial privatisation is a joke. If “Smile and Wave” was genuine he would have gone for 100% sale.

    If things are not run efficiently changes in management will not be forced with the government retaining 51% and things go pear shaped, the partial ownership of government will allow bailouts or other taxpayer support.

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