Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Read My Lips : No New Taxes"

The above quote does, of course come from George HW Bush's 1988 address to the Republican National Convention; however this post isn't about National's peculiar brand of tax "reform". Rather, I thought I'd check up on John Key's committment to avoiding privatisations in his first term; another shallow rightist electoral promise.

Mister Key's words are not necessarily a prima facie prediction of privatisation by themselves, however they take on a worrying implication when read in context with recent remarks by Bill English. English recently declared in what can only have been an exceptional slip of the tongue that "one of the benefits of not having asset sales this term is that it's given us the time and the space to focus on all of the Government's assets and some of them are in good shape and some of them aren't in such good shape."

I may be guilty of a sin of interpretation, but I'm choosing to read that as a declaration of intent for the rest of this term - 'rationalising' state assets to make them more enticing for easy (part) privatisation from 2011 onward. This fits quite well with the pattern of events to date, ranging from recent moves on TVNZ to (more especially) Nick Smith's attempt to fully pre-fund ACC, and of course the succession of Taskforce reports urging exactly this.

In short, my attitude to the Key insistance upon a lack of privatisation plans can be summed up with another HW Bush quote from the same speach:"My opponent now says he'll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. But when a politician talks like that, you know that's one resort he'll be checking into."

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