Greens and Labour MPs are having another push to try and get enough signatures to have a referendum to tell themselves in the House of Representatives that they are members of what they have been promoting for the last year.
What would such a referendum tell the country? What would I do if the referendum was held today? The proposed question:
Do you support the Government selling up to 49 per cent of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?
I would consider a number of options:
- Not vote in protest – unlikely
- Spoil my voting paper in protest – very tempting
- Answer Yes – possible because I’ve sort of supported the MOM share float programme on principle as it was National’s major election policy.
But if I was to honestly answer the question?
- Right now I’d answer No – for a start market conditions make a Solid Energy float very unwise.
If the referendum is held some time next year I’d have to reconsider my response for a number of reasons, including:
- One or two SOEs may have already had their share floats so the whole question is meaingless
- The world economic situation may have tanked, making share floats difficult to justify
- The New Zealand economy might be resurgent making likely share prices very tempting
And there are many other considerations and factors.
This shows how unsuitable a simple referendum is for a complex political and economic policy.