sign uplog in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

Labour/Green push for referendum opposing asset sales gets green light after signatures checked; due by Sept 2014; Govt can ignore it

Labour/Green push for referendum opposing asset sales gets green light after signatures checked; due by Sept 2014; Govt can ignore it

The Clerk of Parliament has certified a petition for a Citizens Initiated Referendum asking if voters support the sale of up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand.

The referendum must be held within a year, but the government is not obliged to act on its results and has said it will push ahead with partial privatisation of Meridian and Genesis before next November's General Election.

The petition was first delivered on March 12, but initially failed to reach the threshold of 10% of registered voters needed to trigger a referendum. The initial petition included signatures of people not on the electoral role, or had been signed twice or three times and failed to meet the threshold. It was then re-submitted and a second sampling by Statistics NZ found it had reached the threshold.

"It is estimated that approximately 327,224 eligible electors have signed the petition, approximately 18,500 more than required," the Clerk Mary Harris said.

The speaker of Parliament would present the petition to the house on September 3 and the Government must then decide within a month on when to hold the referendum, which must be within 12 months of being presented to Parliament.

Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman called for a referendum as soon as possible and for the government to suspend the sale of Meridian Energy after after the referendum.

“John Key considers he has a mandate for these sales. Now is his chance to test it," Norman said.

“Shares from the Government’s sale of Mighty River Power hit an all-time low last week. This sale was bad for both the alleged mum and dad kiwi investors and the Government," Norman said.

Labour SOE spokesman Clayton Cosgrove also said the asset sale programme should be halted until after the referendum.

“John Key has refused to listen to the people. But now all of us can have our say. If he brushes off this referendum it will show New Zealanders just how arrogant he is," Cosgrove said.

“We have seen the outcome of asset sales with Mighty River Power. The share price has tanked and over $140 million in dividends is going to private investors. The programme is a farce and Kiwis now have the right to tell that to John Key,” says Clayton Cosgrove.

Mighty River Power shares are up 1 cent at NZ$2.24 in mid-morning trade. The floated at NZ$2.50/share.

Key responds

Prime Minister John Key brushed aside the news.

"Our view is that it's a utter waste of money. We've had a referendum. It's called a general election and National won that election on the back of this major policy plank with an overwhelming majority. IT wasn't like this wasn't fully debated," Key said.

Key said the vote was likely to be a postal referendum at a cost of NZ$9 million. He was waiting on advice from the Electoral Commission before deciding on timing. 

(Updated with Labour comment, Mighty River Power share price, Key's comments)

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

26 Comments

Excellent, we get to see the so called mandate and before the 2014 election.
:D
regards

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could send the National Party the bill for the referendum if the nays have it.

Why should they ? .... they were democratically elected to govern this country in 2011 , and one of their election platforms was sell-downs of the SOEs ....
 
... the majority of Kiwis voted " YES " to that !

To be fair GBH.....the people voted no to Labour, a large slice of the Labour vote didn't vote,  further the swingers couldn't bare the thought of Phill lurching about the place in that ungainly way.
Key did ...not.....place the selldown as top of the agenda for mandate, simply incuded it, then became more vocal about it's importance post election.
But don't worry too much Mon Ami, if your right  Key has nothing to fear by referendum....
He ....may go ....early though....hope the opposition is up for it. 

.. umm , leemee get this straight ... becos 800 000 or so of Labour's voters ( they claim ! ) didn't bother to vote , we should take notice of their wishes anyways ?
 
That is so bizarre !
 
... if you don't vote , your vote doesn't Count ! ..... haaaaaa ha de haaaaaaaaa !!!

I agree  GBH , but oddly enough it does count.!..it counts for the sitting Admin..in this case it was  Nats....big turnout, new Admin, poor turnout  no change.
BTW , no I did not say we should take notice of the apathetic bas%3Rds who chose not to vote , I simply pointed out  the turnout did not reflect the glowing endorsement to selldown Key claimed post election.
 gotta bail, my good man, Airport run. 
  

Life is tough I know , for Labour , trying to get it's supporters sobered up , out of bed , and off to the poll booths ...
 
... the Gnat's supporter base carried the day , and will do so until the 2014 election ...
 
Guys and gals died for us in the two world wars , to keep us democratic and free .... you forget the sacrifice they made if you don't bother to vote ....

Majority GBH?  Hardly, They are a minority government propped up by John Banks, Peter Dunne and the Maori Party - depending on which one they bribe to get whatever piece of legislation they need passed.   

Under the MMP system , they got the majority ....
 
... which part of the word " democracy " is eluding you ? ....
 
The Gnats won .... Labour get another crack at beating them in 2014 ... it's not rocket science .....
 
( Justin Case anyone thinks I'm in the Gnat camp , I have not given a single vote to them since 2005 , not party , nor electorate )

No gummy - under MMP they formed the government having recruited the requisite number of coalition partners (votes on confiedence and supply) to claim a majority.
 
One can indeed win an election by a majority under MMP - they did not.
 
Hence for example, why they needed to offer Peter Dunne a knighthood in exchange for his vote on the GCSB bill :-).
 
 
 
 

... " under MMP they formed a government " ... YES ! ... that is the key , they did form a government , and Goofy couldn't ...
 
If you wish for a change of government in 2014 , better lobby NZ Labour to elect Shane Jones as leader , 'cos neither Cunliffe nor Robertson will beat the Jolly Kid ...
 
... until then , democracy & MMP hath spoken ... SOE sell-downs will continue ...

Glad to have aided your understanding.

Touche !
 
.... ciao !!!
 
P.S. ... and I have no intention of casting a single vote to the Gnats in 2014 , either ...

Oh......crikey the buzzards are circling.........emotional feasting of grand proportions.
 
If the assets are that good and that important to you....get off your butts and go buy some shares in them.........
 

Unlike Roger Douglas , who sold assets lock stock & smoking barrel to rich mates and overseas investors , for just pennies on the dollar .... JK & the Gnats are gathering maximum value for the taxpayers ...
 
... well , take Mighty River for instance , they made about 15 % above the market value for that sell-down ..
 
Canny pair of suede shoed feather merchants , our Jolly Kid & Wild Bill !

 well , take Mighty River for instance , they made about 15 % above the market value for that sell-down ..
  Fair call GBH, but Mom n Pop got pantsed....sucked raaaaht in...
If MRP was to be a long put....it should have been listed with less sceculative built into the offer
Can't see it trickling it's way back to mom n Pop either.....but hey eyes wide open.... a dandy for sure..

The days of successfully stagging IPO's is well and truely over ... mostly they're at stretched muliples , even for non-government stocks , such as FaceBook ... or " FacePlant " as it was dubbed , when it halved in price several months after it's initial listing ...
 
... a small tip for prospective investors : Learn the difference between " price " and " value " ... they are seldom the same thing !

 GBH....Now that is advice we absolutely agree on...!!...of course, don't tell that to the Real Estate Industry....they hold a counter position.

You saw that NZ Herald article then , the house in Grey Lynn which sold for $ 1.2 million ?
 
... the loo is too rickety for you to poo in comfort & safety ... oooooohhhhhh !

Good advice Gummy......"price" and "value"........hmmmm.......made me think about my taxes again......grrrrr.

If we are to do a referendum lets put other issues to be debated in too. How about a vote on whether to scrap MMP and or Workng for families and or reduce the number of parliamentarians.....
 

I'm fairly certain I voted on MMP at the referendum in 2011. 
 
We actually need fewer referendums and more letting democracy work - i.e. have the elected persons making the decisions.

Fewer referendums , huh ? ..... good idea ... let's put it to the people ... we'll scour the country for everyone's views .....
 
... then we'll draw up a referendum on it !

My main objections to the sales of the power companies are:
1) They have a strong degree of oligopoly power with a proven imperfect market where generators and marketers can easily divide the market.
2) Selling the hydro stations gives away the part of the generating model with long ago paid off capital, and almost nil operating costs; both a huge competitive advantage. See many posts by Stephen Hulme pointing out the rort of their recapitalisation.
3) We all owned the companies before; now a small percentage of people will, a clear transfer of wealth.
4) Even Treasury stated that the government would be worse off selling the companies; after taking loss of dividends into account.
5) Our monetary and fiscal system means the proceeds, especially from any sales offshore, will be very quickly blown. The fiscal multiplier in an open economy is zero. The 30% of the floats promised to the Australian funds is a straight gift to foreigners.
On this latter point, even Bill English has almost nearly got there intellectually, when he stated the following in the house on Aug 21, while justifying the sales:
From the taxpayers’ perspective, the share programme will free up between $5 billion and $7 billion to invest in other Government capital. That means the Government can get the money off New Zealanders while providing them with an investment opportunity, rather than borrowing off foreign bankers, which our opponents prefer to do.
He forgot the contradiction/hypocrisy that he is determined to get the money off Australian fund managers in the sale process. If he really wants money off New Zealanders, there are many other ways; although as Treasury has noted there won't be any more money in any case, once a capitalised divdend stream is taken into account. Still, NZ only bonds? Borrow from the banks if he must. If the NZ economy really needs the $7 billion to rebuild things (and it may well) then run a deficit. That is just numbers on Wheeler's screen. It isn't all that hard.

FYI Updated with Key's comments
cheers
Bernard

We could also update with Key's comments about the last referendum:
"National Party leader John Key said Helen Clark was “arrogantly out of touch” and “running scared” on the issue. “Her government does not like the New Zealand public being able to express their view on democracy. They are about to be stopped from being able to exercise their democratic view through a referendum on the anti-smacking legislation at the election … Why does the Prime Minister not just admit she finds the voters of New Zealand an annoyance?”
http://gordoncampbell.scoop.co.nz/2013/09/03/gordon-campbell-on-the-asse...