Now the asset bill has passed…

…National will continue flogging off part of the power companies.

…Labour/Greens will continue to flog a dead horse petition?

…Peter Dunne will continue working quietly on closing tax loopholes and on health issues.

…and we might hear something of the other parties. Remember Act? Maori Party? Mana?

National have been promoting their MOModel for eighteen months, they fought an election campaign on it, and have progressed it into law. They have been steadfats and kept to their word, apart from one attempt to loosen the 51% ownership cap. They were pulled back to honour commitments by United Future on this – Politicians, journalists and bloggers fix MOM Bill.

Labour bet the election on opposing asset sales and lost support. They have continued to campaign against the sales, including playing a part in the anti asset sales petition and protests and marches. They have put more resources into opposing this than anything else. And they have currently failed.

And it looks like Labour are going to continue the battle, going by David Shearer’s speech on the final reading of the bill yesterday, and their promotion of a gimmicky poster: Labour caucus or Labour circus?

Greens had a much more successful election strategy, concentrating on promoting their own policy priorities. This resulted in a record number of Green MPs. There’s a lesson there.

But Green’s have climbed on the anti-asset sale bandwagon to the extent that they are betting some of their parliamentary funds, a lot of MP, staff and travel resource, on trying to use a publicy funded referendum to lead into the 2014 election campaign. This has already received critical attention: Green abuse of CIR.

Labour/Green’s risk

The Labour/Green strategies are risky.

  • If the petition gets enough signatures – they have about a third of the signatures required after two months, and have another eleven months to get the rest.
  • If the resulting referendum gets a good voter turnout – this would be some time next year.
  • If the referendum gets a resounding result against asset sales.
  • If the voters care after that when the Government is expected to ignore the results.
  • If the share floats are not very successful…

…then Labour/Greens may benefit. Whether the benefits turn out to be sufficient to win them the 2014 election – two and a half years away – is anyone’s guess.

It will be difficult to keep generating enthusiasm for the peition now the MOM bill has passed. And then to regenerate enthusiasm for what may be a dead duck referendum – One and possible several of the asset floats will have already happened by then.

National’s challenge

It’s not all over for National. Their challenge now is to not stuff up the implementation of the Mighty River float, and to hope the market embraces the opportunity to invest in what should be blue chip shares.

The first float could be the making or breaking of this policy. And that could be the maintaining or breaking of a National Government post-2014.

There’s a touch of the bizarre in that so much is potentially at stake for the three largest parties over what is generally regarded as a fairly cautious, soft approach to part privitisation of a handful of assets.

Asset sales may be a major part of the next election. Or maybe Labour will have finally woken up to the reality that to be seen as a viable lead party in Government they have to be seen as leaders, not as non-stop negative. So maybe Labour will stop clinging to the past and start to look to the future, and set about a decent rebuilding and refreshing of what is currently looking like a tired old party.

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