27 May 2013


Disingenuinousness from a National Party Hack

I recently got a “survey”, funded from my hard earned taxes, from the local National - ACT MP asking for opinions about the policies implemented by the John "Pinnochio" Key government.

As our local MP spends much of his time in Parliament as a smirking presence behind whichever Minister is speaking then marching into the lobby as instructed one wonders why he bothers to “survey” the voters in the electorate as he wouldn’t be taking the results into any regard anyway.

Anyway, the survey, which caused much mirth in my household, asked if we believed that the Key directed National-ACT govt had policies that worked to boost skills and support jobs... when we have witnessed a growing % of the population recorded as unemployed from the low base of 2008. The promised 120,000 jobs that have been promised since 2009 have not materialised despite the continued bleating by the Finance Minister.

It then asked if we believed that the National-ACT govt had invested in science & innovation when successive budgets have paid lip-service to the “policy” with words rather than convincing investment in the Research & Innovation.

He then went on to ask if we believed that his govt had been effective in developing export markets, ( a very moot point as we have only grown our export market by 0.8%  in the first three months of this year... which is hardly a ringing endorsement of any growth policy coming from the present govt.) rolling out faster broadband and investing in roads and rail. This last point caused even greater mirth especially as the National-ACT govt has caused the closure of the Hillside Railway Workshops in Dunedin, effectively stopped KiwiRail contracting to build rolling stock designed for the NZ rail system and spent a great deal of time deliberately stymieing the Auckland City Council developing an efficient public transport system based on light rail on the grounds that building more roads to holiday destinations makes greater economic sense even though the cost analyses of the road building schemes has proven them uneconomic.

He then has the cheek to ask if we believe that selling shares in the state owned energy companies is one that would boost the economy..... when one considers that 300,000 people, and growing, people have signed a petition calling for a referendum to stop the sale of the country’s assets his ignorance of economics and public resistance to this policy knows no bounds. When public documents have shown that the first Energy company that has been “partially” privatised has ended up being owned by 113,000 so called “mum and dad” investors who bought Mighty River shares earlier this month were companies, trusts and investment institutions then one can see that this “legalised theft” of the state’s assets will not be building a stronger economy... at least not for the taxpayers who funded and built the energy State owned Enterprises in the first place.

As this press release shows:

Govt admits asset sales program in deep trouble
National has admitted that its asset sales programme is a failure with its decision to consider selling Meridian Energy in blocks, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.
Media reports suggest Meridian’s 49% shareholding may be sold down in blocks by the National Government.
“As shares in Mighty River Power hit a new low, the Key Government knows it cannot sell 49% of Meridian Energy in one hit in the current climate,” Dr Norman said today
“Unfortunately, rather than biting the bullet and calling a complete halt to its asset sales program it is pushing ahead with a foolish plan to sell Meridian Energy in chunks.
“The Mighty River Power sale was a mighty flop and the Key Government knows that pushing ahead with another sale will result in even fewer shares going to ‘mum and dad investors’.
“Despite spending millions on advertising the truth is that 98 percent of New Zealanders bought no shares in Mighty River Power at all. …
“It is time for the Key Government to listen to the concerns of commentators, the business community and ordinary New Zealanders and cancel its economically disastrous asset sales program.”

I doubt, though, that our local MP, who would be more at home in the NZ equivalent of the Republican Tea Party - the ACT Party would be able to understand these basic economics and reactions.

Anyway, to continue with the “survey” from our local MP. He then asks if we agree with the Labour-Green proposal to “nationalise” the electricity industry. A question that again demonstrates the economic ignorance of the individual. If he had any wit he would have realised that we have always had a State Owned Electricity industry.. built and maintained by the New Zealand taxpayer but, now, under the neo-liberal policies of his Party being stolen from the country,stolen from the taxpayers and partially removed from contributing to the economy by being sold off to foreign corporates disguised as”mum and dad” investors as this story from the Stuff website shows.

A small number of wealthy investors including businesses and trusts snapped up nearly half the Mighty River Power shares set aside for retail buyers, sparking accusations the Government's sales pitch about selling to "mum and dad investors" was a cynical ploy.
An analysis of the partial float reveals that 101,000 "mum and dad" shareholders were allocated just 13.4 per cent of the former state- owned enterprise. Roughly the same amount went to a much smaller group of wealthy investors, charities, businesses and superannuation funds.
The figures, confirmed by Treasury, show that of the 113,000 retail investors who paid $912 million for shares at $2.50 each, 12,844 buyers who represented the top 10.9 per cent bought roughly half the retail pool. They invested an average $34,618.
Of those, a select sub- group of 394 investors bought $90m worth of shares in parcels of more than 100,000 shares - an average investment of $228,865.
While some were wealthy individuals, they included companies, superannuation funds, trusts, boutique investment firms, funds from deceased estates, sports clubs, small businesses and charities.

Of course our local MP is also somewhat free with the meanings of words, I’ll be charitable and allow myself to believe that it is because he doesn’t have a large vocabulary so therefore doesn’t understand the policy under pinning of the NZ Power policy announced by Labour with the support of the Greens.

The policy is directed to creating a single regulatory body that will purchase the electricity generated by the Power companies (once known as SOES)   at a price that is based on the real costs of generation rather than the fictional cost, created by the “reforms” developed by the then Minister of Energy, Bradford, and instituted by the National Govt in the 1990s, presently used that pegs the price of power to the cost of the most expensive form of generation - burning coal & natural gas rather than the costs from hydro generation. This policy, based on the system we presently use for the purchase of pharmaceuticals, will bring the power bills down by 5-7% a year while giving impetus to the creation of more than 5000 jobs and boosting the economy by some $450 million.

The Labour-Green policy is, therefore, not one of nationalisation but one of rationalisation... a distinction one doesn’t expect our local MP to be able to comprehend of course.

The rest of his “survey” attempts to discover if anyone believes that the moves to constrain and limit the quality of education delivered by our schools through the imposition of the constant testing regime of “national standards” is benefitting our children. If he cared to read the available research he would realise that the importation of largely discredited testing regimes, even dressed up as “national standards”, will not provide meaningful data on our children’s progress and educational achievement.... but then he is also a believer that the importation of Charter Schools which will not be answerable to the Ministry of Education, will not have to employ qualified and registered teachers and will not have to use or deliver the New Zealand National curriculum is a wise and well thought out policy... so what can one say, apart from I despair??

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