These two want to be the pilots?

David Cunliffe and Russel Norman have been trashing the share sell-down of Air New Zealand. It’s not clear if they are just trashing National and don’t care about collateral damage to financial returns from the sell-down, or whether they are trying to directly trash the share sell-down as well.

They will be aware that Labour and Green scare tactics adversely and substantially affected the returns from selling shares in Mighty River  Power and Meridean, so it appears as if they are knowingly doing something that may reduce the amount of money the Government will get from the sell-down.

Cunliffe and Norman appear to put their political ambitions ahead of the good of the country. They know their actions won’t stop the share sales, it will just reduce the return to taxpayers.

NZ Herald’s Emmerson:

It’s an odd way to try to convince voters they should be pilot and co-pilot of the plane.

Meat and three veg coalition?

Labour supporters are in a stew over polls again. Unenthusiastic hopes rest on being the meat in coalition stew.

There’s been the usual gnashing of teeth at The Standard over another disappointing poll result for Labour. The latest Roy Morgan poll has them still wobbling, down 2 to 33%.

Most comments are despondent.

Some assure themselves that all that matters is that “the left” wins.

“nothing to worry about if you’re a left supporter.”

It is now a fixed view that Labour+Green is the left hope, not just Labour. Labour is never talked of as a one on one competitor with National any more, there is a general acceptance that Labour’s only chance of Government is joined at the hip with Greens.

“labgrn moving from well behind to consistently too close to call (even nudging ahead at times, not seen for years)?”

“The polls say Labour/Green Government. Hardly a massive failure.”

“It’s the policies that count, because, on the left, that’s what we’re about. And if Shearer scrapes in, as it appears he will, then we get the best of Labour and the Greens to set our country’s future. That’s a pretty cool outcome, whoever the PM is.”

There’s a lot of Green hope and optimism – despite their lack of traction in the polls they are at least holding ground with their best election result.

I have never seen the Greens so popular. In the inner city liberal suburbs it is touch and go if Labour or the Greens are the most popular liberal party.

I have never seen the Greens win the party vote like they did in Wellington Central last time. I have never seen an electorate lose 10% points of the party vote like Labour did in Auckland Central.

I have never seen Dunedin swing so powerfully to the Greens like it did in 2011.

So nothing to worry about if you are a Green supporter. But if you are a Labour supporter well what can I say?

Despite the hope that Labour might still manage a win thanks to Greens and possibly others there is mostly Labour gloom.

The polls are a massive failure for Labour. The Labour strategy is wrong. The wrong people are at the top table. Look at the figures. Every member of the party sees them.

And…

Yes, many are disappointed or disillusioned. Those who collected Asset Sales petitions saw it mismanaged and we had to back out again.

Then we found out that our “Leaders” were flying up from Wellington and Christchurch to sup in the Sky Box the same day.

The sense of hope that existed last year has been replaced with numbness.

And…

Nothing cool there. It is very chilling. All Labour people should be very very concerned.

But a coalition might still get Labour home in 2014. An interesting description of Labour+Green – meat and veg:

The Labour party is doing fine under MMP. MMP, if you don’t recall, is supposed to have coalition governments. They provide the meat, the greens provide the healthy veges.

Clearly Labour haven’t been doing fine under MMP over the last two elections and five years. The meat is looking well past it’s best.

And on the last election result and current polling Green veges would not be enough. Labour also need a wilting Winston and possibly a Mana side salad (way out on the left side).

So that could be a meat and three veg coalition.

And Labour may find it tough being the meat in a multi-grained sandwich.

Green candidate to contest Dunedin mayoralty?

I’ve heard from a number of sources that the Green Party is going to stand (or endorse) a candidate for the Dunedin mayoralty in this year’s local body elections. The 25th of May has been mentioned.

And at a public event this week a name was openly mentioned – Aaron Hawkins. This isn’t a big surprise, Hawkins stood for mayor and council in 2010 – see Mayoral Profile: Aaron Hawkins.

On Tuesday Hawkins posted an openly political attack on current mayor Dave Cull at The Daily Blog – Dunedin’s Mayor Our Very Own Karma Chameleon.

It’s interesting that Greens are becoming more openly active in local body politics. In the past political parties have not been a popular feature in local body elections so this is a risk for Greens.

In Dunedin financial management, council debt and escalating rates are are big issues. Greens are making a major play on financial policies in national politics, and are struggling to be seen as credible. Voters were happy to tolerate some controversial Green environmental policies, but there is more wariness about what has been seen as a fringe party suggesting extreme economic policies.

If Hawkins stands as a Green candidate that obviously positions him politically. Normanomics may be something any Green candidate may have trouble defending beyond the Green faithful.

His last election profile says:

How would you describe your politics?

Environmentally responsible and, if anything on a spectrum, probably centre-left.

Who have you voted for nationally?

I voted for [Dunedin North MP] Pete Hodgson, I think, in the last three elections and for the Green Party.

Probably not centre-left. Maybe he has become more Green in the last two and a half years.

Hawkins doesn’t seem to be very active on Facebook.

He is more active on Twitter, where he has obvious Green connections and is noticeably anti National. His twitter profile:

@MrAaronHawkins

Music & Opinions for @RadioOne91FM, Words for @RipItUpNZ,@TheDailyBlogNZ@InsidersDunedin, D Scene, [Your Publication Here]

If he does stand for mayor as a Green candidate we’ll hear a lot more about him and from him. It will certainly guarantee a hard fought and interesting mayoral campaign. It’s good for democracy to have a range of candidates.

Hawkins will have to improve substantially on his 2010 result (he’s likely to do that).

Candidate Affiliation First Preference
Votes  %
Dave Cull Greater Dunedin 21,757 48.60
Peter Chin Independent 14,084 31.46
Lee Vandervis 5,917 13.22
Aaron Hawkins Independent 1,527 3.41
Olivier Lequeux 1,164 2.60
Kevin Dwyer 197 0.44
Jimmy Knowles 124 0.28
Informal votes 57
Turnout 45,218 52.34

He was closer in the councillor vote – see Dunedin local elections, 2010

Greens are well supported in Dunedin in National elections, and there is a significant Green activist base in the city. If co-leader Metiria Turei helps in the campaign that will ensure more attention.

It’s risky for Greens to delve into political territory that other parties have kept a distance from.

But it will certainly add interest to the local body elections in Dunedin.

(As posted on Your Dunedin)

Major Labour/Green difference on NZ Power purchasing

Would NZ Power negotiate wholesale power prices? Or would the State impose prices? There’s a major difference between Labour and Greens in a key part of the NZ Power proposals.

From a Green email:

The centrepiece of our plan is a new Pharmac-style agency named NZ Power that will drive a hard bargain with the electricity generators and directly pass on the savings to you, the customer.

Green’s Q & A:

NZ Power will make long-term contracts with generators and use its market power to negotiate much lower wholesale prices,  just as major users like the Tiwai Point smelter do at present.

From Labour’s policy document:

NZ Power will act as a single buyer of wholesale electricity.Each generator will be paid a fair return for their actual costs. The fair return will be calculated by NZ Power on the basis of their historic capital costs, possibly adjusted by inflation, plus operating costs like fuel,depreciation and maintenance.>There will be a cost based price pool for wholesale electricity.

And…

These savings come as a result of NZ Power setting a price based on operating costs plus a fair return for capital based on the historic cost of their assets with some adjustment for inflation.

Labour haven’t mentioned Pharmac in their policy document, and David Parker didn’t refer to Pharmac in his interview on The Nation.

It’s interesting that Greens are proposing a more market orientated price negotiation system, while Labour are proposing State pricing setting by the State.

There is a clear and significant difference between the Labour and Green proposals – a fundamental difference in the core aspect of the NZ Power policy.

I’ll ask both Greens and Labour to try and clarify what sort of power purchasing model NZ Power would use.

NZ Power – rushed or rash?

The Labour and Green announcement on their NZ Power policies looks like being both rushed and rash.

It was first signalled by David Shearer with a press release late on Sunday night, the day before the Mighty River Power share float began.

NZ Herald report in Labour, Greens make power promise

Mr Shearer said Labour and the Greens had been working on their plans for reform in parallel but had only in recent days realised they had the same central plan to establish the single buyer model.

So they realised their plans in commons and launched this “only in recent days”? The timing of Shearer’s pre-announcement and the joint Labour-Green announcement yesterday suggests a rush job to try and impact on the share float.

Mr Shearer said Labour had been working on the plan for some time and it was not an attempt to derail the Government’s Mighty River share offer which began this week or the wider asset sales plan.

It’s hard to see that as credible.

He had written to the board of Mighty River Power and to shareholding ministers asking them to issue a supplementary disclosure to warn potential investors of the plan.

The timing is terrible, the share float has already started.

3 News report in Opposition ‘trying to disrupt share sales’:

The new policy, which will be implemented if there is a change of government at the 2014 election, is expected to drive down the issue price of Mighty River Power shares.

Labour and the Greens accept the consequences of their policy and say investors will have to take the risk into account.

“People choose to buy shares, they don’t choose to buy electricity,” said Labour leader David Shearer.

The announcement had an immediate effect on the share market with energy companies shedding value.

Shares in the country’s largest listed electricity company, Contact Energy, shed 4.6 percent of their value on Thursday, while shares in Vector, TrustPower and its major shareholder Infratil also fell.

The effect on the Mighty River Power float will be significant. Deflating the share price, as the Labour Green announcement is sure to do, will reduce how much money Government – that means us – will get for the share sales. It could cost us hundreds of millions of dollars.

And that’s before we start to count the cost of scaring off investors that the country needs to progress.

NZ Power looks like a rush job that’s also extremely rash.

And Labour and Greens seem oblivious to what they have done, they are blinded by tunnel vision ideology.

Time for Russel Norman to prove he can do Finance

Russel Norman is openly challenging Labour, that’s a good think because Labour seem to be taking it for granted that Greens will give them the numbers to lead a coalition while the run a series of attacks on the presumed partner. Norman took Labour to task in an op-ed in the NZ Herald: It’s Green Party versus National, but where is Labour:

Labour MP Shane Jones has been vocal in the pages of the New Zealand Herald over recent weeks, criticising the Green Party over our concerns about the serious environmental impacts posed by deep-sea oil drilling off our coasts and the use of slave labour on foreign chartered vessels in New Zealand waters.

Given that Labour has been supportive of some environmental and worker protections in the past, we have to ask if these repeated outbursts from one of their senior MPs are simply the views of an individual, or something more.

The free rein given to Mr Jones to attack the Green Party on environmental issues suggests the latter. I hope this isn’t the case.

It’s well known that the environment is a strength part of the Greens. But Norman has set his sights higher – finance minister. Patrick Gower on 3 News reported:

Greens co-leader Russel Norman wants to be Minister of Finance, and is demanding his MPs make up to a third of the Cabinet.

“It’s one of the portfolios that will be on the table,” says Dr Norman. “It will be part of the negotiating mix.”

Yes, that’s right: Dr Norman wants to control the country’s finances. He would be in charge of the Budget.

“It will be one of the possibilities. It will certainly be on the table.”

But Norman has a herculean task if he wants to position Greens as a serious co-Government party with a top role in finance.

It’s two years out from the election. That gives Norman plenty of time to prove he has sufficient ability and expertise. He hasn’t done that yet. In the same Herald op-ed he said:

Green development and green jobs provide a clear vision and economic direction for our nation. We can have good jobs without destroying the environment, and we can take advantage of the huge green economic opportunities overseas to supply exports with a premium. That’s what smart green economics is all about.

Greens have a reputation for slickly presented slogans like this. Some are buying the pitch, but there is no detail that explains what the actual product is.

Norman knows what smart green marketing is. But if he wants to sell himself – to Labour and to the country – as a heavy duty number cruncher he will have to displays his smarts on financial policy. He needs to come up with numbers that pass serious scrutiny.

If he doesn’t prove he understands the numbers and can add them up to credible answers he will feed a common fear of the Greens – most people are happy for them to have a presence in parliament but dread them getting a big say in Government.

And there’s more at stake. If Norman makes a major bid for finance and it scares the voters it may impact on more than Green ambitions.

It could drag Labour hopes of success down – they have clearly hitched their propsects of success to a Green assist, and if the country decides the Greens are too big a risk in major roles on Government and Finance then it may severely hobble Labour as well.

It would be fair to expect the media to ask Norman to show us the numbers before Key gets a chance in the 2014 campaign.

Norman’s op-ed closed:

National has failed to create jobs for the 175,000 unemployed New Zealanders. Labour and the Greens owe it to those workers, and those whose jobs are at risk, to work together to build a clean, green economy that delivers prosperity for everyone.

The Greens owe it to prospective voters to prove there is more to them than clean green bullshit.

Metiria Turei – smart green?

From Metiria Turei’s column in DScene Protect the skills already in workforce:

We have to protect our manufacturing base, make it a priority as part of an economic vision for a sustainable green economy.

We cannot predict future economic difficulties or political machinations. So, we need to build resilience into our economy. That means investment in our workforce, high quality education, continued workplace training in new developments and investment in technology to help meet new challenges.

The end result will be that our manufacturing base is resilient, flexible and able to withstand not just the prevailing economic winds but the political hits that come as well.

We can make a difference.

By expressing a preference for New Zealand made content in Government procurement contracts we can support our local businesses.

Differences in prices can be offset by receiving better quality products and increased tax revenue from the stimulated economy.

This is a smart green solution to helping stem the outgoing tide of manufacturing jobs.

We have to do what we can to protect as much of our manufacturing base as possible, I doubt anyone would dispute that.

And keeping business local does help stumulate the economy.

But there’s nothing specific in this that points to any new way of trying to achieve vague idealistic goals. Investment, education and training all take place now.

Turei suggests the end result will be a flexible manufacturing base, but she is proposing flexible procurement ‘preferences’.

But there’s little here to support her  claim of it being  ‘a smart green solution’. Some may buy it as smart green PR but it’s little more than vague party palaver.

The Greens will need to come up with far more detailed and specific proposals if they want to be seen as a serious governing party. It will take much more than slick marketing slogans.

Smart green will be seen as smart arse Greens unless they can add substance to their vaguely defined ideals.

 

Why Dunne opposes Green universal tax credit bill

Peter Dunne has been targeted for a vital vote for Metirea Turei’s bill that is attempting to extend Working For Families tax credits to beneficiaries.

Dunne has confirmed his position on the bill.

Why I oppose the Greens’ Bill to universalise the In-Work Tax Credit

The Greens’ Bill to universalise the In-work Tax credit payable under Working for Families comes before Parliamenrt again tomorrow evening.

I will not be supporting it for the following reason.

When Working for Families was introduced by the Labour government in 2004, there was provision for what became known as the In-work Tax Credit to be payable in addition to normal Working for Families entitlements to low-income working families to incentivise their remaining in the workforce, rather than going on a benefit. I supported that concept than, and I do now.

Making the In-Work Tax Credit universal – in other words, extending it to all those, working or not – distorts its original concept, and I do not support that.  It sends an unfortunate signal to low income working families about the value of their work, which I think it wrong.

I believe there needs to be recognition of the hard-working efforts of low income families, and the existing In-work Tax Credit is a way of achieving that.

That is why I continue to support that recognition, by opposing the Greens’ Bill.

Even if Dunne voted for the bill it is very unlikely National would allow it to escape a veto due to substantial cost and budget implications.

 

Labreen or Greebour?

Labour seem to have given up competing head to head as a major party with National. They now keep talking of Labour-Green getting enough seats to form a coalition (with some other parties).

And their strategy doesn’t even seem to be to win, but rather to lose less. Their main aims seem to be negative, to try and make sure National loses so they (and Greens) can take their place by default.

But with their diminishing aspirations (and escalating dysfunction) by the time we get to the end of 2014 we will find out if National lose or not, and if the main opposition is Labreen or Greebour.

Your NZ similar to Greens but also significant difference

Posted on Kiwiblog:

I thought it was a good interview too. The Greens are looking like one of the most sensible (how they act, not necessarily policies), practical, positive alternatives to National – but the standard of others is not hard to beat.

It’s interesting, I will standing against Turei in Dunedin North, and to an extent Your NZ is very similar albeit much newer than the Green Party.

Turei is her party co-leader and number 1 on their party list. She is passionate about what she is doing, and seems to be doing a good job – at cabinet level or just below cabinet level. She will be busy as leader, even busier should she become achieve an ambition to become a minister.

I don’t think Turei can give enough time and attention to an electorate, she’s working at a higher level. An appropriate list candidate.

There are similarities between the Green Party and where Your NZ wants to position itself.

Turei used a line, which I have advocated in the past they should use, that they can work constructively with both National and Labour and regardless of who forms the Government, they’ll aim to make it a greener Government.

Same for Your NZ, except instead of a green voice Your NZ wants to be a people’s voice (or lobby), to influence the government on behalf of electorate wishes. Government can’t be run by referendum, but they should listen more and ordinary people should have more influence.

Accurate determination of what people think and want = stronger democratic lobby to government.

It’s a good message which could well appeal to some swinging voters who may be saying they want John Key as Prime Minister but would like the Government to do more on environmental issues.

Also similar, except Your NZ would like the government to listen more to the people.

Again no one should think that if they have a choice, the Greens won’t install a Labour-led Government. They will, unless Labour totally alienate them.

Here we are different – Your NZ will pledge to support for Government the party that wins the most seats, we’re not slanted ideologically and believe in democratic majority.

But given the probability of at least a second term of a National-led Government, it is smart to portray yourselves as able to have influence, rather than just opposition.

It will take time for a new party to be accepted – that will happen much faster if the are a serious and positive contributor to the government of the day, and aren’t just another niggly “no” party.

The Green Party has a specific, narrow green constituency.
Your NZ represents a much wider “people’s voice”.