Thursday, February 25, 2016

Will Greens Support NZ First On Asset Buy-Back Scheme?

Something that's happening with increasing frequency of late, is other parties adopting New Zealand First policy as their own. National did it with their zero healthcare fees for pre-teens policy. Labour did much the same (albeit in a watered down format) with their landmark fees-free tertiary education policy earlier this year.

But far and away the most common ... "collaborative synergist" for NZ First policy appears to be none other than the Green Party. We've already seen them lift directly from our manifesto this term with their Kiwisaver reform package, and I've been pleased to note numerous instances of co-operation between the two parties ever since we got back into Parliament on issues like TPPA opposition and the Manufacturing Inquiry.

But what's caught my attention this week is this: less than 72 hours after a poll-result which once again showed The Greens trading votes with New Zealand First ... the Green Party are signalling they're open to adopting NZ First's flagship Asset Renationalization policy.

As you may recall, Asset Renationalization - i.e. the buy-back of those power companies part-privatized by the National-led government - was one of New Zealand First's non-negotiable bottom lines at the last Election.

At the time, the Green Party were a bit lukewarm about the idea. Their position then was that they'd have to wait til after the Election to consider the numbers, and find out if asset renationalization was a viable proposition.

Well, as the numbers contained in their press release from yesterday make abundantly clear, allowing these assets to remain in private and foreign ownership makes little fiscal sense.

We've already forgone nearly a billion dollars in dividends since these assets were part-privatized two and a half years ago in 2013. Should they remain anything other than fully state owned, this number will only continue to grow.

Once the figure hits $4.7 billion dollars - the amount of revenue raised by the sale - we shall effectively be in a far worse position than we were before selling them. This is because we will have given up an income stream in exchange for a quick cash influx (that was used at least in part to pay for tax cuts), for - by that sad and sorry point - absolutely zero overall fiscal benefit.

New Zealand First could see that this was going to be the inevitable situation far in advance. That's why we unveiled an asset buy-back policy scheme very early into the last Parliamentary Term (in fact, I think from memory it was in mid-2012). We're glad that the Green Party's started to catch up with our thinking some three and a half years later. But we have to wonder what took them so long - presumably playing around with their "NZ Power" joint-concept with Labour.

I look forward to the Green Party's signaled energy policy announcements later this year. In an ideal world, they'll take the long - indeed, sustainable - view and join us on  the Side of Right by announcing their intent to #Renationalize these pilfered power companies.

Because anything else ... wouldn't be putting New Zealand first.


  1. Without reference to any particular policy, I don't think NZ First should go off half-cocked on these issues. Admittedly the party system requires the production of policy but before members produce policy they need to acknowledge the current range of theories and the risks. I think this is what happens when a working paper is produced? Maybe do it in an open forum? NZ First will only ever be a condiment in the political system unless it gains a reputation for quality policy.