Davidgrad Under Seige Over NZ Power Plans

NZ Labour Party leader David Shearer - image by Selwyn Manning.

Prime Minister John Key sourced from DimPost.wordpress.com.
Prime Minister John Key sourced from DimPost.wordpress.com.
A governing political party who invests its hopes and dreams in the cult of personality around its leader? Who cuts funding to infrastructure to invest  in propaganda? A leader who cancels democratic elections in his second biggest city, and gives himself the ability to dictate policy to all of the others? A leader who circumvents public consultation and makes political protest illegal? This is the Prime Minister we have presently, and yet it is his primary challengers who are being painted by politicians and pundits alike as the Stalinist Spawn of Satan.

Over the past five days, New Zealand’s two biggest opposition parties have been exposed as what we all secretly knew all along, a sleeper cell of North Korean Soviets, taking advice from Hugo Chavez’s Treasury Department at top-secret briefings in Albania. This isn’t a conspiracy theory bubbling up in the hateful feeding troughs of Whale Oil, or even among the marginally better heeled responders over on Kiwiblog. This is now the official narrative being issued by the Government, and parroted by some of our most senior political correspondents. A coalition of the Green & Labour parties post-2014 would put “far left” policies into action, says Key. All this as a result of David Shearer & Russel Norman’s joint presser last week announcing their NZ Power initiative. This would see the government take over the wholesale distribution of electricity, determining the fair prices that retailers could charge, and – they say – lowering household electricity prices across the board.

Business New Zealand’s Phil O’Reilly declared it “economic vandalism”. The policy would kill all external investment for all eternity! What next, spluttered David Farrar – nationalising supermarkets? Minister of Everything Steven Joyce, giving the announcement a leather jacket and a comb in its pocket, said the NZ Power planners had ‘jumped the shark with a half-baked Soviet Union-style nationalization “plan” … [T]ruly wacky and desperate stuff obviously made up in the last minute in the Koru Lounge between comrades Norman & Shearer”. Those champagne socialists with their free copies of the Herald! How dare they?! That very newspaper’s Liam Dann criticised the critics of free market economics for “ignoring the extent to which [it] works immaculately everyday across every aspect of this crazy comfortable modern life”. His smartphone and flat white are testament to this. It works immaculately (so long as you’re not the poor bastard working for loose change in an Apple factory or having your community pillaged by the coffee trade)!

Liam Dann’s comments reveal more about the slavish commitment to “Free Trade” that he perhaps intended. As long as a middle class white man with a job can get a sweet phone and decent coffee, all is well in the world of neoliberal economics. Forget those in distant lands, starving under the strain of your comfortable city living. Let’s just for a second consider those who can’t afford to eat at Dizengoff or replace their phone every season here in our own country. The people who have to choose between eating and heating, The people whose cost of living has been artificially inflated to benefit the nation’s share portfolios and Doug Heffernan’s bank balance. I’m no finance expert, but if our individual Kiwisaver accounts are invested in local energy companies to such a degree that decreasing their value wipes out entire retirement funds, isn’t that a far bigger concern for our collective savings approach? But I digress.

NZ Labour Party leader David Shearer - image by Selwyn Manning.
NZ Labour Party leader David Shearer – image by Selwyn Manning.
As much as the response on the right to has been hilarious in its hyperbole, their comrades on the other side of the spectrum may be overcooking this as well. Chris Trotter’s acceptance of David Shearer with open arms, like a shepherd embracing his long lost lamb, seems a little over excited given what is essentially a minor shuffle left for the largest opposition party. Yes, it is a relatively large step given recent decades, but this is not the reinvention of Labour as, well, the party of labour. It is not a rejection of the free market, but it is an admission that in this example the free market has failed the people that need the support of their government the most. It is the two biggest opposition parties announcing publicly they don’t believe that New Zealanders should have to choose between heating and eating, and they are prepared to interfere with the market to help make that a reality. It may not be perfect, and it may not be a big enough leap to the left for some, but it is a start. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, and that can be half the battle. Plus, if the NZ Power announcement gets some traction, who knows what else the opposition might pitch to address the causes and symptoms of poverty, and gaping inequality, that successive governments have fostered and let fester! How insane, monster raving loony party would it be to have a government who believed in investing in people, not just investing in investors?



  1. Yes, odd how no one in the mainstream seems to find any of the things listed in the first para odd. However, I’ve just come up with a new theory and that is that New Zealand has become a country of gamblers, led by a gambler. Re asset sales – the stakes are high. Everything is being put on the table. One side is bluffing, the other’s calling its bluff (can apply to both parties). National will keep on raising the stakes (by being prepared to sell the assets at any price), hoping Labour/Greens will throw their hand in. Labour in particular will have to decide if it is going to see National all the way.

    This song is dedicated to y’all! Take it away Kenny.

    On a warm summer’s evenin’ on a train bound for nowhere,
    I met up with the gambler; we were both too tired to sleep.
    So we took turns a starin’ out the window at the darkness
    ‘Til boredom overtook us, and he began to speak.

    He said, “Son, I’ve made my life out of readin’ people’s faces,
    And knowin’ what their cards were by the way they held their eyes.
    So if you don’t mind my sayin’, I can see you’re out of aces.
    For a taste of your whiskey I’ll give you some advice.”

    So I handed him my bottle and he drank down my last swallow.
    Then he bummed a cigarette and asked me for a light.
    And the night got deathly quiet, and his face lost all expression.
    Said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.

    You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
    Know when to walk away and know when to run.
    You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
    There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

    Now Ev’ry gambler knows that the secret to survivin’
    Is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep.
    ‘Cause ev’ry hand’s a winner and ev’ry hand’s a loser,
    And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”

    So when he’d finished speakin’, he turned back towards the window,
    Crushed out his cigarette and faded off to sleep.
    And somewhere in the darkness the gambler, he broke even.
    But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.

    You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
    Know when to walk away and know when to run.
    You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
    There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

  2. Since electricity is a natural monopoly it’s not suitable for deregulation, except for on the generation side. How is it helpful to have all these power companies with offices, marketing budgets, receptionists, payment gateways, and worst of all… advertising. Think of the total amount spent on power ads in this country. Is that a good spend?
    You don’t see ads for water companies or roads, both of which are natural monopolies. Or the air / radio frequencies – still owned by the government. Freeview is created to free up UHF so the government can auction some more spectrum for 4G, again this is something that is good to have kept under government control.

  3. Do you mean people in far off countrlies who are generally much better off as a result of freeish trade than at any time in history? People who Helen Clark are pleaded to count towards the millennium development goals around poverty because free trade not aid got them there.

  4. the right fear change because it means they may get dragged down to lesser peoples level it all about class and status they don,t want the people at the bottom to be prosperos they want that for themselves its all about keeping the wealth and power with the few and not the many i would describe the antics of key and his mates as designed to scare the masses in calling Lab/Greens far
    left they are nowhere near that and they know it don,t fall for the sucker punch folks

    • They are Jesse tally destroying the market mechanism and nationalising private profits. If it looks like a socialist duck and quack like a socialist duck I’d say there is a good chance it is a socialist duck.

    • Really Draco? So when did the majority of Chinese people not live in poverty? It certainly wasn’t under your mate Mao.

      • Gosman. Free trade isn’t getting countries and their people out of poverty. I’m not sure where you get that idea. Throughout Latin America, Eastern Europe, North Africa and many Asian countries NGO’s and Labour Rights movements work alongside impoverished workers who lives and well being are affected negatively by the demands of dominant western markets.
        Just in Bangladesh alone 700 workers have died in unsafe workplaces since 2005. The most recent tragedy was at Tazreen garment factory where 112 workers died in a factory fire. This was an avoidable industrial disaster but companies like Walmart and Disney won’t sign up to enforce basic safety standards in these factories.
        So back to those those smart phones mentioned above………..Its a win lose situation, but mostly its loosing if we allow our goods to be produced in an ethically unsound way, and think that its ok.

  5. Great article Aaron.
    Well it’s interesting. Everything over the last four and a half years has been National National National. Finally when the opposition parties announce a good and worthy people orientated policy they intend to implement once in power, the govt, hand in hand with the media have a major freak out. The frantic name calling and squealing huffy indignation aimed towards the Greens and Labour shows they are worried and feeling threatened. They’ve been able to cruise along, handing out favours to mates, not really bothering about what little criticism they face, laughing behind the backs of the fawning media controlled public and generally getting away with what they like. And along comes a popular sounding policy from the opposition that has gone and messed up the status quo. So they react like spoiled kids in the playground.

    Secondly, to your point about Shearer and reference to Chris Trotter’s article. This maybe good policy that is heading in the right direction, but Labour still has Shearer. Problem. One policy alone, no matter how good it is will not win an election, not with Shearer as a leader. Does this announcement mean voters will be more accepting of Shearer? I hope not. I hope they’re not that daft. I was also hoping that Martyn’s Labour coup watch colour coded chart might get to the next level before too long, but maybe not now eh?

  6. Great post thanks.

    What the donKey does is for the best he wouldn’t do anything that didn’t benefit everyone he is suave and cool and all of those things.

    If the government talks about the centre right as opposed to the far left (what a joke) often enough the masses will believe it, we will indeed have the dancing cossacks advertisements at the next election, it is about instilling it in the minds of everyone.

    Woe is us if we have anything but the Nats in power.

    Liam Dann – yes well he works for the Herald.

  7. The Labour party has usually been the party of the trade unions; and what is a union but a bunch of workers getting together to present employers with a single seller of labour. NZ Power is a similar sort of thing, but acting instead on behalf of consumers. Perhaps the promotion of unions and cooperatives is the philosophy for which the left has been searching – to provide the disadvantaged with economic muscle, and minimise thereby the aquisition of unearned income.

    After all, the left do seem to have been floundering since the seventies; and at a loss as to how to answer the neoliberal onslaught.

  8. Ironic that Key claims Labour and Greens have moved to the far left. I suppose from where he stands on the right wing horizon the centre left looks pretty far. This claiming of centre ground seems to be important to right wingers with regular access to polls. Matthew Hooton never says ‘right wing’, it is always ‘centre right’. Clearly this centre line, middle-of-the-road is important to people. But it’s not static, it moves and warps with each pull at our mind-strings from politicians, pundits and journalists.

    To win Labour doesn’t have to move to the right. It needs to the people, the centre line, back to the left. That’s precisely what it did last week and it worked well.

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