Deborah Russell to stand for Labour in New Lynn

Labour have selected Deborah Russell to stand for them in New Lynn over several local contenders. Russell announced her intention last year and moved to Auckland from Palmerston North. Several local candidates stood against her but she prevailed.

Russell stood in Rangitikei in 201, losing to National’s Ian McKelvie by over 10,000 votes.

Russell would probably be good for Labour if she gets into Parliament, but there’s likely to be some very unhappy Labour members in New Lynn after an outsider has been parachuted in to probably the seat after David Cunliffe’s exit.

NZ Herald: Deborah Russell to stand in New Lynn

Deborah Russell has been announced as the Labour Party’s candidate to contest the New Lynn electorate in the general election.

Russell, a tax expert from Massey University, will replace the outgoing David Cunliffe from the traditionally safe Labour seat.

Russell was seen as an outsider in the bid to be Labour’s candidate, but had the support of the party’s hierarchy.

The ‘party hierarchy’ also prevailed with an outsider over a local candidate in the Hutt South selection.

There has been a lot of controversy this week over Andrew Little recruiting Willie Jackson with a promise of a high list placing.

The announcement was made by Labour’s general secretary Andrew Kirton on Twitter this afternoon.

Russell previously told the Herald there were difficulties in trying to get the selection as an outsider, but she was contacting party members in New Lynn to try to secure support and had promised to move into the electorate if selected.

“I’m making sure I’m familiar with the issues here, but I’m also promoting myself as someone who can operate successfully on a national stage as well.”

One of Russell’s first tasks will be to win the support of the electorate Labourites. She stood against Greg Presland who had been Cunliffe’s electorate chairperson.

This is likely to be contentious at The Standard where Presland is an author.

Someone unwilling to identify themselves has posted Deborah Russell for New Lynn:

Senior Lecturer and tax law expert Deborah Russell has won the Labour selection for New Lynn – congratulations! You’re going to make a fantastic MP! Home team candidate Greg would also have made a fine choice, alas that only one of them can represent the electorate.

Early in comments Michael:

An outstanding candidate selected for New Lynn. That’s one seat Labour should retain.

it would be surprising, and catasrtophic for  Labour, if they lost the electorate.

Response by someone from the electorate, Amakiwi:

The Labour caucus learns zero about democracy. What the locals want counts for nothing. OK.

If the caucus don’t need me I don’t need them either. I’ll have a closer look at the Greens.


Ok, those of us in New Lynn have missed out on having an electorate MP that’s on top of local issues and representing those effectively in Parliament, in favour of someone whose expertise is on issues with nationwide effects.

I’m only a little bit disappointed, coz I rate them both very highly.

Rangitikei result 2014

New Lynn result 2014 (Cunliffe won by over four thousand votes but Labour lost the electorate vote to National by over a thousand votes).

New Lynn electorate – Labour contest

There is an interesting contest for the candidacy for what should be a safe Labour seat New Lynn electorate being left vacant by David Cunliffe. Six people have put themselves forward:

  • Deborah Russell
  • Greg Presland
  • Christine Faumuina
  • Owen Gill
  • Sunny Kaushal
  • Susan Zhu

Deborah Russell is highly rated and would be a good addition the Labour’s caucus. She stood for Labour in Rangitikei last election and has moved up to Auckland to try to get the New Lynn nomination – being an outsider could count against her, Michael Wood played the ‘local’ card strongly in the Mt Roskill by-election.

Greg Presland has been involved in New Lynn campaigns for many years, has also helped Cunliffe in his leadership bids, one of which was successful. He has also been very involved in local body and community affairs. He should get strong local support but being male may work against him in the head office push for more female MPs.

One of these two look the most likely contenders.

Russell was 33 on Labour’s list last election but due to Labour’s poor result she missed out by a big margin – Andrew Little was the last in off the Labour list, ranked 11, and there were about eight others on the list before Russell who missed out.

So the promise of a reasonable list position will guarantee nothing, and getting the nomination for New Lynn should lead to a few tens in parliament if the successful candidate wants that.

Absent from the contenders is Laila Harre, who was mentioned as a possible candidate, but against two who have well established records with Labour she would have been an unlikely choice. She has been involved in the Alliance Party (as an MP),  the Green Party and as leader of the Internet party last election.

It looks good for Labour to have keenly contested nominations. They could really do with fresh new talent.


A defamation settlement proposal

Lawyer Greg Presland makes some observations that are probably widely shared, and A settlement proposal for Jordan Williams and Colin Craig

To both of them can I suggest that they immediately discontinue their proceedings.  And pay the anticipated further legal fees to a suitable charity.  I suggest Salvation Army.  The lawyers will understand.  At least I hope so.

The world will be a better place if they do so.

There are two things wrong with this proposal.

It is months too late.

And it is likely to be ignored.

While some monetary gain was the aim of one party in this dispute it is debatable whether much if any of that will be forthcoming.

Otherwise it’s difficult to see what good could have come out of the extended and very public revelations.

There was always going to be the potential for major losses in credibility and respect, not just for the two people at the forefront of this battle of witlesses, but especially for the collateral damage to others.

What appears to be unintended consequences should have been very predictable.

The concept of left wing balance

Early last week Radio New Zealand teamed up with Nicky Hager to reveal not very much about New Zealand’s involvement in the Panama papers.

The Standard had a number of posts as a result, including:

Sprung! New Panama Papers dump confirm NZ is a tax haven

A new release of Panama papers absolutely confirms New Zealand is a tax haven says Nicky Hager. And ironically, it is because of New Zealand’s squeaky clean reputation that tens of thousands of foreigners have come flooding here.
Rather than actually dealing with the issue, John Key is using his old classics “nothing to see here” coupled with “Labour did it too”, “nicky hager is a conspiracy nut”, and “wait for the (Shewan) whitewash enquiry” defenses.

John Key chickens out of #panamapapers interview

The Radio New Zealand TV One Nicky Hager release of analysis of the Panama Papers is underway and the media response is fascinating.

First up John Key pulled out of his regular Radio New Zealand interview after learning what he was to be questioned about. He attended all other media invitations. One wonders why. Perhaps National needs the PR advice to try and work out how to respond.

Radio NZ working with Nicky Hager on a major story (ok, on a minor story in a major way) seems to be fine.

The second of those was by MickySavage. Yesterday he posted:

Matthew Hooton and the Radio New Zealand post

Radio New Zealand recently published a piece penned by well known supporter of the right Matthew Hooton.  What has happened to the concept of balance?

This tweet caused me some surprise when I first saw it.  I respect the quality of Radio New Zealand’s reporters and its commitment to the concept of quality journalism.  But I scratched my head when I saw this tweet because the conclusion seemed completely overblown and so un Radio New Zealand like.

What was really weird was that the post was written not by a staff member but by that well known commentator for the right Matthew Hooton.

I was astounded by this.  Isn’t Radio New Zealand meant to provide “innovative, comprehensive, and independent broadcasting services of a high standard”?  How could Hooton’s views be considered to be independent?

Hager is not an RNZ staff member. He is well known as a left leaning political activist.

Why are his views accepted as independent and balanced while it is ‘astounding’ that Hooton’s opinion is allowed on public radio airwaves?

Hooton’s article was ideologically driven and contained clear bias.  And it was completely lacking in detail or analysis.

Many people saw the RNZ/Hager coverage of the Panama papers in a similar light.

But getting back to Hooton’s column why did Radio New Zealand agree to it being published?  Did the arrangement to report on the issue with Nicky Hager upset the right that much that they demanded a patsy piece in the interests of “balance”?

So including a different opinion from Hooton is somehow a right wing conspiracy of public radio coercion, but collaborating with Hager is beyond reproach?

A rule from Presland farm:

Media balance is essential but some balance is more essential than those bloody righties being allowed to say something too.

It’s worth noting that Hooton was given a permanent ban from The Standard last week. Their sort of balance?

The continuing decline of journalism

It looks like Greg Presland as made use of a quiet time to have a good look at the media in New Zealand in 2015, and how journalism seems to be continuing it’s decline.

The media in 2015 is a worthwhile post to read for anyone interested in where we are headed with media coverage.

This year saw the continuation of a trend that has been evident for some years.  The media became dumber and nastier and more superficial as cuts to spending on serious journalism increased and power was increasingly dominated corporate interests.

A fight for commercial survival by corporate media is cutting back on more left friendly journalists.

While on the left we celebrated the fitting conclusion of the right’s attempt to manipulate the media for their benefit the basic fact is that overall the media has been damaged and is worse off because of what has happened.  There has to be a better way.

Everyone in politics tries to ‘manipulate the media’. Some think they are more successful than others.

The reverberations of Dirty Politics continues although it is noticeable that National, while denying that Dirty Politics is even a thing, is busily taking steps to remove any remaining links that previously existed.

I’m not aware of National denying that Dirty Politics is ‘a thing’. Rather they have tried to bury it (a standard political manoeuvre) because it was a very bad look for them.

It is clear however that National is no longer using Slater to attack its opponents and he is now no longer the recipient of Beehive sourced information.  I am sure that Judith Collins’ return to Cabinet was made on the promise that she will no longer feed Slater with the sorts of information that she used to.  The tip line I suspect is now permanently out of order.

It’s good to see Presland acknowledge that Slater has been dumped as a useful idiot.

I think Collins committed to being seen to separate herself from Slater some time ago. Otherwise she may not now be back in Cabinet.

Overall I would rate the current year as just like last year only worse for those interested in quality independent media.

This is not a peculiarly New Zealand phenomenon and elsewhere through the Western English speaking world similar issues of corporate control and the slide of the media into irrelevance and bias are occurring.

For instance in Australia Jim Parker in a post titled the business of anger recently made these comments:

A perennial tension in journalism arises from balancing the professional requirement to accurately inform the public and the commercial one to actively engage them.

The destruction of media business models, where classified advertising subsidised across a Chinese wall the quality journalism that attracted the eyeballs, has gradually swung that balance from the professional to the commercial imperatives.

Of course, every journalist wants their work to be seen, shared and remarked on. After all, there are plenty of people on the web and elsewhere writing worthy but dull tomes that bury the lead. (And not all of them are tenured academics).

But in the brutal supply-demand economics of new digital media, where an ever growing surplus of content competes for an ever shrinking quota of attention, the only strategy (garage band style) is to turn up the volume….and bugger the standards.

His conclusion appears to be as relevant in Aotearoa as it is in Australia:

The media wants conflict for its own sake. And it doesn’t just want polite and civil disagreement. It wants desk-thumping, spittle-spraying, shoe-chucking tantrums – whether it be on talkback radio or Q&A. The issues in dispute don’t much matter. It’s anger, fury, hatred, and blind incoherent rage as a business model.

An example is what happened to the Herald this year.  Competent accomplished journalists were sacrificed for those able to generate the most noise and clicks.

This is a real problem with no sign of it getting any better or easier for journalism.

It’s not just the dumbing down that’s a problem, the fragmentation of media means reducing resources are spread over a much wider spectrum.

A six edition a week newspaper now has to also keep drip feeding an online presence. Six o’clock television news is now an often glib summary of what’s happened over the last day or two with a bit of ‘breaking news’ if the timing of disasters fits.

The only thing known for sure is we can’t go back to how things were.

Journalism as we knew it is likely to continue to decline. We can just hope that good alternatives get better.

We have available many more sources. We used to rely on, typically, a daily newspaper, a tv news bulletin and radio news through the day if we could listen.

At least now there are many more eyes and ears able to witness what is happening and able to find a media outlet.

Can this be harnessed? Or do we just have to ride with the changes and get what we can out of it.

Blogs on first day of Labour conference

The Standard has been oddly quiet about the first day of the Labour conference. Anthony Robins put up a post in the early afternoon yesterday – Labour’s conference which quoted a couple of preview comments and then said:

This year’s conference has more “closed” (media excluded) sessions than most. Some of the media are a bit miffed about it – they need copy to file poor things. I would have gone for more open sessions myself, but it’s Little’s first conference as leader and he’s playing it cautious. No doubt the media will find something to fill the column inches with.

I’m not at conference this year, and lprent is overseas, but some Standardistas are going so no doubt we will get reports. Have a great conference all…

There was some pre-conference discussion – very mixed and a significant amount was not very complimentary.

Greg Presland commented:

Stephanie Rodgers and I will both be there and will no doubt report on things that we can.

I also expect numbers to be down. I know quite a few people who will not be there for various reasons. Palmerston North is more out of the way and after last year there is still a bit of fatigue.

Some of Ad’s recent posts indicate the importance of making sure that things ramp up next year and I think the Party needs to think about doing things for activists to increase enthusiasm.

Colonial Viper:

Holding the Conference is Palmerston North doubles or triples the cost of attending from regional areas of NZ like Otago, as compared to holding it in Auckland. Which means that ordinary people can’t get there. The Labour Party of the 10%.

Presland later:

I just arrived and the mood is remarkably upbeat. Numbers are apparently much stronger than some have talked about with 500 being mentioned.

Little else was reported from the conference.

A very late comment from Leftie:

Just read a very positive report on TDB by Martyn Bradbury, who has, in the recent past, been no friend of the Labour party. Worth a read, look forward to more reports on the conference.

So no report on the conference from The Standard yet but there’s one at The Daily Blog.

Labour Party Conference 2015

By Martyn Bradbury

It is the 99th Conference of the NZ Labour Party and instead of looking excitedly towards their 100th birthday as the oldest political party in Parliament, Labour, after one of their worst election results ever, face deep existential questions about their political relevancy, what they actually stand for and how they will woo voters back to voting red.

But that links to Waata News:

Labour Party Conference 2015
Friday 06 November 2015

It is the 99th Conference of the NZ Labour Party and instead of looking excitedly towards their 100th birthday as the oldest political party in Parliament, Labour, after one of their worst election results ever, face deep existential questions about their political relevancy, what they actually stand for and how they will woo voters back to voting red.

The shadow of last years electoral meltdown has strategists, political gurus and polling shamans all desperately searching entrails to make meaning of a result that seemed counter intuitive to every crazy twist of what was easily the weirdest election ever undertaken in Aotearoa.

It is this above all else that haunts Labour.

How do you appeal to an electorate when the majority of that electorate voted for John Key DESPITE all the filthy tactics of National’s Dirty Politics, DESPITE using the Secret Intelligence Service to falsely smear Phil Goff months before the 2011 election, DESPITE mass surveillance lies and DESPITE abuses of political power not seen since the Waterfront lockouts. Helen Clark was crucified for signing a painting she didn’t paint, yet here we have the PMs Office colluding with spies to smear opponents, handing sensitive information to far right hate speech bloggers and allowing the security agencies of America to have access to everything any of us do online.

How do you come back to an electorate who simply shrugged to all of that and turned a blind eye to National’s corruption?

You start by trying to work out why they turned that blind eye. Many NZers who voted for Helen now vote for John – why? This middle class now earn more from their property speculation than they do from their actual job. Labour’s challenge is to try and convince someone who has this year alone earned 24% in untaxed property valuation to vote with their social conscience instead of their wallet.

That’s a very difficult job.

After rambling on he concludes:

These long suffering Labour members and Union affiliates are still waiting for a policy platform that speaks to their aspirations right at a time when Labour are trying to attract voters with very different words and values. Maori flocked back to Labour in 2014 – where is their articulation of political interests? Women within Labour are still being scolded for pushing for greater representation because of the way it gets sold in the media and Trans rights aren’t on any agenda.

How will the stake holders within Labour promote progressive policy that don’t isolate the middle class property speculators Labour are trying to win over?

Things to look for will be how Labour respond to the TPPA now the text has been released, how well Andrew Little performs in his speech and how much patience supporters, members, volunteers and affiliates are prepared to give a Labour Party that can’t work out if they should be planning a celebration or funeral after 100 years.

So just questions from Bradbury.

But he has a post actually at The Daily Blog. The headline is odd – Why Brooke Sabin highlights the media ban – Labour Party Conference 2015 after hours  – as is the opening few paragraphs about Bradbury trying to find a late evening place to eat.

I add these details because the Labour Party Conference 2015 has surprised me. I thought I was turning up to give a political party the last rights. I was wrong. I can tell you the Labour Party are still very much alive and still very much focused on winning 2017.

I’ll go into details on how they intend to do that tomorrow, but the factionalised fighting has ended, the Caucus has united around Andrew Little as leader and Little is developing into a leader who can challenge Key.

I’m not sure how he has managed to determine that in one evening of a party packaged event.

In the past my excitement for Labour was over what I hoped they could achieve rather than what they could actually do, this time around I feel there has been a major change behind the scenes in areas Labour needed to change to become an effective machine.

But all of that for tomorrow, let me just point out the breathless Brooke Sabin report on the TPPA. Brooke says Labour were blindsided by the release of the TPPA text – that’s simply not true, Labour were aware far earlier in the week that the text was likely to be released and Little’s 5 bottom lines still stand, it’s looking more likely that Labour will turn the TPPA down than support it if the issues around asset sales to foreigners stands. You wouldn’t know that if you had watched TV3 on Friday, and Brooke’s report shows exactly why Labour are so keen to tighten media interaction at the conference.

Bradbury has very little to say about the conference except for satisfying his hunger and a comment about the TPPA – Little said something about that in his speech last night but Labour have not highlighted that in their social media.

So not much has come out. Does “Labour are so keen to tighten media interaction at the conference” apply to members and their social media interactions?

UPDATE: Greg Presland has put up a post this morning at The Standard, also with an apparent media focus: Which Labour Party Conference is Brook Sabin at? although he does begin with a bried conference report:

Day one of the Labour Party has passed. Numbers are damned good for a provincial centre, over 520 registered delegates not counting observers. The mood is upbeat with some very good speeches last night, a well deserved gold badge for Maryan Street, and much emphasis on the importance of activists in what we do for the party. And last night was marked by much laughing and singing and the occasional imbibing of liquid refreshments and despite suggestions to the contraryStephanie Rodgers and I did not eat all the pies.

He then digresses and like Bradbury complains about Sabin’s pre-conference item on 3 News.

He then discusses Labour and the TPPA in general terms:

Obviously the Labour Party needs to go through a process to make a final decision. I am not breaching any confidences by saying that some within caucus are supportive of free trade.  And I am confident that further analysis of the investor state resolution procedures will also trigger the breach of another of Labour’s bottom lines that “Corporations cannot successfully sue the Government for regulating in the public interest”.

I don’t expect a final response soon from the party. I doubt that it can make a final call on the protection of Pharmac because as far as I am aware that detail has not been released and is in a still hidden document. And the bottom line on meaningful gains for farmers in terms of tariff reduction and trade access will need to be assessed properly although the Dairy Industry’s initial response suggests that the gains are marginal at best.

Not much out of the conference there. He then closes with another complaint about the media and “poorly designed spin trying to create the impression of a crisis”.

It appears that Labour is trying to keep divisive issues like the TPPA subdued at their conference and will continue their appeasement of both sides of the TPPA fence.

Little’s speech on Sunday may give a better idea of where Labour currently stand on trade deals.

The Standard versus Stuart Nash

In response to Stuart Nash’s criticism in a post Stuart Nash has in a post at The Daily Blog at Greg Presland has posted Dear Stuart Nash.

It is an interesting post.

He talks about how the Labour Party is now more united and disciplined.  Fair call.  I am pleased to see that this is happening.

He talks about how winning is everything in politics.  Again this is fair enough.  Seven years of National’s current rule shows how important it is that a Labour Green government is elected.

He then criticises the party because more than one Labour member apparently said that they preferred Maryan Street to Nash as an MP.  He concludes that some in the party think that winning is a sin.  Unfortunately for Stuart he does not understand that his vainglorious success in Napier probably hurt the party’s prospects.

Vainglorious campaigns in an MMP environment where electorate seats are won and the party vote goes down are a waste of time.

Not very complimentary.

He then has a chip at this blog and calls it a bastardisation of a once proud Labour broadsheet.

Clearly he does not understand the importance of open debate and discussion.  And he clearly does not understand that the discussions generated by the Standard represent a distillation of the thoughts of activists and progressives throughout the country.

And pushback on Nash’s strong criticism of The Standard not being loyal Labour preachers.

The Labour Party has a proud history of activism and the promotion of cutting edge radical policies.  Mr Nash’s recipe of muted debate and bland third way triangulation of issues is a sure path to irrelevance.

It appears that Nash has responded in comments.

Stuart Nash 2.3

I have the energy, land information, forestry and statistics portfolios. I admit, I have done nothing with the statistics portfolio, but have been leading the charge around the ineptitude of the overseas investment office, and I have written three substantial policy discussion docs on forestry, energy and land information. I have also written and driven our provincial engagement strategy. I have also given more speeches in the House than any other Labour MP, and I finished my LLM this year. Believe me, I am not sitting on my arse doing nothing.

[fyi – Haven’t been able to verify the authenticity of these comments…this commenter may well not be Stuart Nash] – Bill

Update: [seem to be genuine after all]

There’s more response to Standardista comments.

dear me. imagine being in government. you obviously can’t but its why I am here.

And more.

For someone who has been around for so long – and under Helen – I am surprised at your apparent naivety. You just don’t get it do you. The interesting thing is that this is the first time I have actually read the Standard for months. I don’t know of a Labour MP who does (though no doubt there are some) because those I talk to tend to agree that this is a site mired in negativity and bile.

This site doesn’t represent the moderate left voter – or the aspirational Kiwi who is looking for an alternative to the current government; but rather the embittered left dreaming of a socialist utopia that has never existed anywhere in time or place.

Its an absolute disgrace to the proud broadsheet that used to be the Standard – and I should know, I have a whole heap of them at home. They trumpeted the Labour virtues, triumphs and achievements; not like this site that promotes a narrow biased view of the world that is totally irrelevant to the vast majority of thinking Kiwis.

I suspect that after tonight I won’t read this site for another 12 months. After all, why would I – it offers nothing I can’t get looking into a long drop in a DoC campsite.

Not a good look from Nash – but good that he has the freedom to speak his mind I guess.

Love it. That ‘American’ campaign manager was actually my birth father, and never ever once did I distance myself from Labour messages. In fact I was the first candidate who was open about the fact that a Labour candidate could not win Epsom.

Not too sure who you are, but you seem to forget that when I won the nomination for Epsom the LEC was broke, but I raised $15k for my campaign – spent $10k and left $5k in the coffers. The team and I (mainly Graham Lee) door knocked every house and the party vote for Labour in Epsom was the highest it has ever been.

Come on, be honest for a change and don’t hide behind a pseudonym. If you were on the Epsom LEC or my campaign 2005 campaign team then you know you are lying, and I don’t appreciate that.

[Nope. You don’t challenge the legitimate use of pseudonyms. Not here. There is nothing dishonest about employing them.] – Bill

But wait, there’s more.

Man, gotta love you guys. If think I don’t know what I was doing when I wrote the post on the Daily Blog, then you insult my intelligence.

The lack of political or strategic nous expressed in a number of the comments (and starting from the author of this post – sorry but take another look at the stats: holding electorate seats improves the party vote. The PV might have dropped in Napier, but I was not the MP, simply a candidate) just confirms my suspicion that this site is populated by the nutty fringe who really are quite divorced from political reality. You believe you influenced the outcome of the past tow leadership races? How did the Cunliffe campaign work out for you? Not too good right. Wow. How deluded is this!

I am just so relieved that very few actually take this site seriously. If they did, we really would be in trouble.

Good luck in future endeavours.

Oh, by the way, take a look at my election billboards: the vast majority simply said

None of this ridiculous other stuff that was floating about.

So, move away from the keyboard, go and raise some money, knock on doors, hold 150 street corner meetings, work hard for two years and you never know, you might win as well. But somehow I doubt that. :-)

Just what Labour needs. Not.

Nash is entering into exactly what he had warned against – making Labour look bad on blogs.

Contrasting asset sale dividend claims

Greg Presland did some “back of the envelope calculations” on dividends on assets part owned by the Crown in Imagine if National had not sold the shares in our companies 2015 version.

About 12 months ago I wrote this post on the loss of dividends that would otherwise have been paid to the Crown because of National’s privatisation activity.  I calculated the country had lost $360.7 million in dividends although there had been a saving in interest.  And the country had also missed out on $485 million in the increase of the value of the shares.

I did another back of the envelope calculation today based on the latest company announcements.  I am afraid that things are way worse.  It looks like we lost $471 million in dividends not to mention further capital gains in the value of the shares we sold.

My calculations may be wrong.  Back of the envelope calculations while watching Auckland v Canterbury even using Excel are not optimal.  And I have not tried to understand any changes in capital structure and what consequences they may have had.  But I think that the New Zealand nation has been royally rogered by the sale of the power company and Air New Zealand shares.

I repeated the calculations and the figures this year are worse.  Far worse …

The results are:

  • Meridian paid a total dividend of 18.23c a share compared to last year’s result of 13.01c per share.  If the shares had not been sold the dividends that would be paid to the Government would total $229 million this year not to mention $163.4 million last year.
  • Mighty River Power’s profit went down but it still paid a dividend of 19c a share.  Dividend loss to us, $128 million and last year $91.2 million.
  • Genesis Energy increased its dividend payout to 16c per share compared to last year’s payout of 13c per share.  Dividend loss to us last year was $61.9 million and this year is $78 million.
  • Air New Zealand had a bumper year and announced a total dividend of 16c per share.  The value of the shares National sold increased by $186 million and the dividend loss this year was $35 million.

My quick calculation is that since their sale the shares the Government sold have increased in value by $1.378 billion.  Over the past two years we have lost that in capital increase and $831.7 million in dividends.  We did receive $4.7 billion in sale proceeds although this is before the cost of selling the shares.

Overall in two years we have gained $4.7 billion less expenses but we have lost $1.4 billion in capital gains and $831.7 million in dividends.  That is $2.23 billion or nearly half of the sale amount.

Brian Gaynor looks at some different numbers at NZ Herald in Air NZ privatisation has paid off for taxpayers:

There is a widely held belief that the partial privatisation of state-owned assets is a complete ripoff, that taxpayers are being taken to the cleaners.

This opinion was expressed in a letter to the Weekend Herald following Air New Zealand’s recent profit announcement. The reader wrote: “Just a few years ago, the taxpayer bailed out the airline to the tune of $900 million. Wouldn’t it be lovely to run a company that when you make a profit, management takes credit and if you make a huge loss, the taxpayer bails you out. It is now time to repay its profits to the taxpayer.”

These comments are totally inaccurate, as an analysis of Air New Zealand – as well as Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy and Mighty River Power – illustrates that taxpayers have achieved fantastic returns from the Crown’s shareholdings in a number of NZX-listed companies.

That’s quite a different story. On Air New Zealand:

In September 1996, Air New Zealand acquired 50 per cent of Australia-based Ansett Holdings and in February 2000 it acquired the remaining 50 per cent.

Ansett went bust in September 2001 and Air New Zealand was in serious financial difficulty.

The company reported a loss of $1425 million for the June 2001 year, and in October 2001 the Crown agreed to put $885 million into the ailing carrier. This comprised a $300 million loan, in the form of convertible preference shares, and the purchase of new shares for $585 million. The convertible preference shares were switched into ordinary shares in 2005.

In 2004, Air New Zealand had a rights issue at $1.30 a share and the NZ Government purchased a further $150 million worth of new shares.

What has the Crown received in return for its $1035 million Air NZ investment?

• It has collected total dividends of $765 million.

• It received $365 million for the sale of 221.3 million shares in November 2013 which reduced its shareholding from 73.2 per cent to 53.1 per cent.

Thus, the Crown has received a cash return of $1130 million for its $1035 million investment. In addition, its remaining 582.9 million Air NZ shares were worth $1446 million at Thursday’s closing price of $2.48 a share.

It is inaccurate to claim that taxpayers have been shortchanged by Air New Zealand and its management team when the Crown’s total investment of $1035 million is worth $2576 million. This includes dividends received, the proceeds from shares sold and the value of its remaining shares.

The Air New Zealand investment has had an extremely positive outcome for taxpayers.

And on the more recet part asset sales:

The Air New Zealand investment has had an extremely positive outcome for taxpayers

Another issue is the partial privatisation of Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy and Mighty River Power and whether taxpayers have had a positive outcome from this strategy.

One of the major arguments against the sharemarket listing of these electricity generators was that the Crown would lose 49 per cent of its dividend income if it sold 49 per cent of these companies.

The figures in the accompanying table tell a different story.

The Crown will receive total dividends of $440 million from the three electricity generators for the year to June, when they are all 51 per cent owned by the Government, compared with $485.8 million two years ago when they were all 100 per cent tax-payer-owned.

Thus the Crown has received $4308 million from the partial sale of these companies yet its dividend income has fallen by only $45.8 million. This is a remarkably positive outcome for taxpayers.

The reason for this is that companies usually lift their performance after an IPO, mainly because they are subjected to far more scrutiny. It is somewhat similar to a football team performing much better in front of 50,000 fans compared with at a training run with only a few coaches.

For example, Genesis Energy has gone from one shareholder to more than 55,000 shareholders, Meridian Energy from one to nearly 49,000 and Mighty River Power from one shareholder to in excess of 100,000.

The combination of a large number of outside shareholders, directors and senior management owning shares, and greater scrutiny by these shareholders and the media means that partially privatised companies are likely to perform much better than 100 per cent Crown-controlled entities. As a consequence, they also tend to pay higher, more sustainable dividends.

Gaynor concludes:

It is patently clear that a sharemarket listing and 51 per cent Crown ownership has been a win-win situation for taxpayers and investors in Air New Zealand, as well as the three electricity generators.

That’s quite different to Presland’s back of an envelope claims.

Heat on National over accumulating problems

It’s normal for an incumbent governing party to accumulate problems, especially when well into their third term.

And it’s normal opponents to keep highlighting these problems and keep hammering the Government with them. As Greg Presland has done at The Standard in National’s terrible deal making.

John Key’s reputation as a formidable wheeler dealer deal maker is clearly mythological rather than real. And a series of deals have been completed based entirely on a prejudice that private enterprise does things better than the state.  But the reality does not match National’s ideologically blinkered view.

Attacking Key on one of his claimed or perceived strengths.

These deals include the following and there are multiple posts on The Standard on each one.

  • Novopay – the go live decision that has cost us $45 million was signed off by English, Joyce and Foss despite the awareness that there were multiple faultswith the system at the time.
  • Tiwai Point and Rio Tinto – where a foreign multinational corporation exploitedthe Government’s insistence of partially privatising our power companies and was paid $30 million dollars to continue in business for a short period of time.
  • Warner Brothers – a threat to move filming overseas when clearly this would not happen resulted in $30 million tax credits, rushed legislation and some manufactured news for John Key.  Irish Bill’s analysis here is compulsory reading if you want to understand the extent of the duplicity that National engaged in.
  • Saudi sheep – where we have the payment of a failed bribe, a sheep farm in a Saudi desert where most of the lambs died, negotiation of a MOU with a foreign state where National’s behaviour has been described as duplicitous and an active attempt to avoid legal and bureaucratic oversight.
  • Trans Pacific partnership – where we are giving up our sovereignty, Pharmac’s effectiveness and opening up our Government being sued whenever it acts in the public good all for the possibility of a minuscule increase in overseas markets for milk we currently produce at a loss.
  • Sky City – where the Government has sold legislative provisions, engaged in a contractual process described as banana republic stuff without the bananas and created future increased problem gambling and misery for a convention centre with hopelessly optimistic predictions of job creation and economic activity.
  • Serco – it has become abundantly clear that the so called innovative approach does not exist and Serco’s profits depend on cutting prison officer numbers and allowing the gangs to take over.  Inmate deaths, the hiding of violent incidents because they affect the bottom line, rampant drug taking and prisoner violence appear to have become the norm.
  • Charter schools – where instead of closing a failing charter school as recommended Hekia Parata gave that school more money.

And National’s economic strategy?  It appears to be a combination of trust private enterprise, multiple dairy conversions, a cycleway (remember that?), building holiday highways, an Auckland real estate boom and precious little else.  National clearly lacks the skills to create a modern economy and a modern state.  Without heavy borrowing and the Christchurch rebuild our economy would be in tatters.

It is not only the lack of substance that is becoming increasing clear.  It is also that National’s and Key’s style in creating a media narrative that does not match reality is now being increasingly clear.  About time.

I don’t think all of those should be much of a problem on their own. It’s easy to surmise Labour would have done something to rescue Tiwai Point, while one Charter School has severe problems others seem to be doing ok and Warner Bros/The Hobbitt have helped New Zealand’s tourism industry substantially – see Tourism set to overtake dairy as largest export earner.

But Novopay was a debacle, Sky City has looked shaky if not shonky at times and the Saudi sheep – what happened and how National have handled the issue over the last month – looks awful.

So accumulatively the heat is on National.

They are going to have to be seen to sort some of this stuff out or the voters will sort them out in 2017.

99 years of Labour at The Standard

The Standard celebrates 99 years of the New Zealand Labour Party with a Greg Presland post Happy 99th birthday Labour that includes a 2011 campaign video:

During this week the Labour Party enjoyed its 99th birthday. Formed in 1916 after the trade union movement had suffered significant defeat at the hands of capital workers decided that if they were going to improve their plight they had to use political means.

The above film, used in the 2011 campaign, is fascinating. It manages to capture very quickly the important political events in New Zealand’s history and also identify why there is such a great deal of goodwill for the Labour Party. Free healthcare, social security, state housing, one of the smallest gaps between rich and poor on the planet, a commitment to full employment, independent foreign policy and more recently increased awareness of the importance of environmental protection have all signified Labour’s reason for being.

The film canvasses each Labour Government.  It rightfully says that the Lange Government’s “free market policies and asset sales didn’t belong to Labour.  The party was divided …”.

The Lange/Douglas rescue of New Zealand from Muldoon’s mess is still contentious on Labour’s left.

The Party is making plans for its 100th year celebration and amongst other things is planning a competition for a new logo.

Here’s a suggestion:


Labour has a long and auspicious past. Origins from Wikipedia:

The Labour Party was an amalgamation of a number of early groups, the oldest of which was founded in 1901. The process of unifying these diverse groups into a single party was difficult, with tensions between different factions running strong.

At the turn of the century, the radical side of New Zealand working class politics was represented by the Socialist Party, founded in 1901. The more moderate leftists were generally supporters of the Liberal Party. In 1905, a group of working class politicians who were dissatisfied with the Liberal approach established the Independent Political Labour League, which managed to win a seat in Parliament in the 1908 election. This established the basic dividing line in New Zealand’s left-wing politics – the Socialists tended to be revolutionary and militant, while the moderates focused instead on progressive reform.

In 1910, the Independent Political Labour League was relaunched as an organisation called the Labour Party, distinct from the modern party. Soon, however, the leaders of the new organisation decided additional effort was needed to promote left-wing cooperation, and organised a “Unity Conference”. The Socialists refused to attend, but several independent labour activists agreed. The United Labour Party was born.

Soon afterwards, the labour movement was hit by the Waihi miners’ strike, a major industrial disturbance prompted by radicals in the union movement. The movement was split between supporting and opposing the radicals, and in the end, the conservative government of William Massey suppressed the strike by force. In the strike’s aftermath, there was a major drive to end the divisions in the movement and establish a united front – another Unity Conference was called, and this time the Socialists attended. The resulting group was named the Social Democratic Party.

Not all members of the United Labour Party accepted the new organisation, however, and some continued on under their own banner. Gradually, however, the differences between the Social Democrats and the ULP Remnant broke down, and in 1916, yet another gathering was held. This time, all major factions of the labour movement agreed to unite, establishing the modern Labour Party.

Labour’s future is uncertain, struggling to find their way after the Helen Clark era. They are currently polling at about half their main rival National, (but are still about double their next rival the Green Party).

All is not well when trying to celebrate their 99th birthday their main online fanbase The Standard is decidely lukewarm and uncelebratory. As Bill points out.

99 really is kind of auspicious.

A mere 29 comments on that, and not overwhelmingly positive, and after exposure exceeding 12 hours, and on a broader labour orientated blog site, might be what I’d expect from reading a current Scottish labour orientated blog site given that the Labour Party there is essentially dead and buried…

Just saying.


99 is great. Happy Birthday NZLP.
Please keep left, and help reduce the volume of moaning on The Standard


Maybe it’s just me, but where’s the screeds of congratulatory and ’empowerment through identification’ comments that such an anniversary might: should elicit?


Just goes to show that TS is not a front for the LP…


Or it goes to show that Labour (the party) are all but dead, but the left isn’t.

If the ‘Labour left’ comrades at The Standard don’t enthusiastically celebrate 99 years of Labour then who will?