The Mendacities of Ms Amy Adams – “hidden borrowing”?!




National is at it again;  indulging in rank hypocrisy by criticising the Labour-NZ First- Green Coalition Government of policies that they themselves carried out.

This time, the National Party’s finance spokesperson, Amy Adams, has accused the Coalition Government of “hiding away debt” in SOEs. Speaking to Mediawork’s Newshub, she protested;

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“…If you actually look at where Grant Robertson has hidden another six billion dollars of borrowing in Crown entities, total borrowing has actually gone up almost $17 billion. And if you look at it in that way, it’s going to take up our debt-to-GDP ratio to above the 20% target in 2022. So I think he’s being very tricky in fudging the numbers and hiding $6 billion more debt in that Crown entity space.”

Ms Adams has apparently “forgotten” that the previous National government did precisely what she is now alleging that the Coalition is doing.

By  2009, the Global Financial Crisis began to heavily impact on the National Government’s tax revenue. Except for GST, company, individual, duties, and other revenue were down;



Despite the fall in taxation and other revenue, National proceeded  with it’s first tranche of tax cuts in April 2009. According to then-Finance Minister, Bill English, the 2009 tax cut represented a $1 billion loss of revenue to the National government;

“About 1.5 million workers will receive a personal tax cut, injecting an extra $1 billion into the economy in the coming year.”

This presented a serious problem for National, as it was borrowing $450 million per week, by December 2009, according to BNZ Capital economist, Craig Ebert.

This left National in dire straits. Government revenue was collapsing; borrowing was ballooning – and worse was to come. National had tax cuts planned for the following year. They would be estimated to cost government at least $2 billion in lost revenue.

National’s Cabinet came up with a novel ‘solution’: State-owned enterprises would be treated as ‘cash cows’. Each SOE would be instructed to borrow to their maximum limit and “… release all surplus capital to the shareholder as special dividends“.

In May 2009, then-SOE Minister, Simon Power, issued this letter to all relevant state owned enterprises. Note the red-highlighted portions;





(Please note that the above version differs slights from the text provided in the NZ Herald version. Some of the redactions above re-appear in the NZ Herald version.)

By November 2011, a Treasuring scoping-study revealed that Solid Energy was experiencing severe financial problems. National’s Ministers were officially advised of Solid Energy’s precarious financial state, but this would not become public knowledge until two years later, in February 2013.

By August 2015, Solid Energy was placed into voluntary administration. By March this year, the liquidation process was near to completion.

Interestingly, the Herald story announcing the final stages stages of liquidation stated only;

Solid Energy first started its downward spiral in 2013 when global coal costs plummeted, exposing its commercial error in carrying substantial debt on its balance sheet.

There was no mentioned of the tens of millions of dollars expropriated by the National government after it’s letter-of-demand from Simon Power in 2009.

Neither was there a mention of the debt levels forced upon Solid Energy;

Solid Energy’s gearing ratio [borrowings] was 13.8 per cent in 2009, but that rose to 34.4 per cent in 2010 and 41.7 per cent last year [2012].

In fact, Solid Energy was bankrupted not only because of it’s high debt levels (four times higher than in 2008/09), but because National demanded 65% of cash reserves to be paid to the government as “special dividends”, as the CCMAU document below shows;




Solid Energy had meagre cash reserves remaining when the international price of coal fell, reducing it’s income.

Neither did it help when  National abruptly reneged on it’s subsidy to Solid Energy to  generate bio-fuels. National implemented it’s subsidy in 2008 – and scrapped it in 2012.

That decision left Solid Energy with a bio-fuels subsidiary (Biodiesel New Zealand) that was suddenly uneconomical to produce.

Adding insult to injury, and perhaps one of former Dear Leader  John Key’s worst case of misdirected blame-gaming, he lamented the collapse of Solid Energy;

“The causes of the financial crisis at Solid Energy are the usual suspects in failing businesses – too much debt, unsuccessful investments and no reserves to weather a slump in coal prices.

Prime Minister John Key’s comments yesterday indicated these problems and pointed the finger at an imprudent amount of debt and investments that have not returned any cash yet.

Key said the debt had climbed to $389 million when “typically coal companies do not have a lot of debt on their balance sheets”.

Through incompetence;  election year tax bribes that sent sovereign debt soaring and government deficits ballooning; SOE management that failed to assert independence from Ministerial interference; a willingness to strip SOEs of their cash; and demanding that they ramp up their “gearing” (borrowing/indebtedness) – like a fiscal vampire, National sucked Solid Energy dry.

So that combined with the removal of biofuels subsidies and a collapse in international coal prices, the final ‘leg’ of the three-legged stool – unsustainable debt and depleted cash reserves – was enough to send Solid Energy spiralling down into bankruptcy.

It is against this backdrop of “hidden borrowing” by National, that undermined and destroyed one SOE, that Ms Adams is now accusing the Coalition government of the same thing.

National has a distinctly predictable habit of blaming it’s political opponents for behaviour that it itself is guilty off.

Accordingly, Ms Adams wins this dubious “merit award”…



Postscript: Amy Adams was elected into Parliament on 8 November 2008. She therefore shares collective responsibility for the  demise of Solid Energy, along with her colleagues, Bill English, John Key, Tony Ryall, and Simon Power.





Mediaworks/Newshub: Govt not honest about debt in new Budget – Amy Adams

IRD: Revenue collected 2008 to 2017

Scoop media: Rankin -Tax Cuts 2009-2011

Scoop media: Government delivers April 1 tax cuts, SME changes

Otago Daily Times: Government now borrowing $450 million a week – claim

NBR: Key again defends tax cuts

Scoop media: Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

NZ Herald: Simon Power letter to SOEs, May 2009

Treasury NZ:  Treasury Report T2011/2373: Solid Energy New Zealand Scoping Study Report

Fairfax media: Solid Energy in debt crisis talks

Fairfax media: Solid Energy announces voluntary administration ahead of sale

NZ Herald: Solid Energy enters final stages of liquidation process

Fairfax media: Ministers pressured Solid Energy, Parliament told

Treasury: Solid Energy Information Release March 2013 (Document 1875419)

Fairfax media: Biodiesel loses subsidy, prices to rise

NZ Herald: Solid Energy half year profit down as coal export price falls

Fairfax media: State miner to return to coalface

Other Blogs

The Standard: The real reason Solid Energy is failing

The Standard: Has John Key jumped the shark?

Previous related blogposts

Solid Energy – A solid drama of facts, fibs, and fall-guys

Solid Energy and LandCorp – debt and doom, courtesy of a “fiscally responsible” National Govt






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  1. … ” Through incompetence; election year tax bribes that sent sovereign debt soaring and government deficits ballooning; SOE management that failed to assert independence from Ministerial interference; a willingness to strip SOEs of their cash; and demanding that they ramp up their “gearing” (borrowing/indebtedness) – like a fiscal vampire, National sucked Solid Energy dry ” …

    Wow !

    Just wow !

    The ‘capable economic hands’ of National,… what a joke !

    And that loser John Key !

    Shitting on a SOE after his party were the ones responsible for setting Solid Energy up to fall , – and him knowing all along !

    Our only consolation is they are gone. Yet they still persist with the B.S. And people ACTUALLY believe them ! That’s the scary part. That people still think for some unearthly reason that they are prudent managers.

    Here’s the real truth about National ;

    Not only do they include foreign spies among their caucus, they are essentially a party of sell outs to foreign capital and investors. They are not and never will operate in the best interests of this country and only take their directives from nameless, faceless corporate’s and individuals living offshore, in most cases , – thousands of kilometers from NZ.

    The tax cuts were simply an appeasement to the middle classes and to a lesser extent ( obviously ) the working poor. But who it really was designed to benefit are those same nameless , faceless individuals and organizations making a racket out of our resources , exploiting our workforce and environment and proportionately – paying the least tax of any of us !

    That’s who National are and whose interests National are looking out for.

    Unethical exploiters and manipulators.

    Who don’t give a damn about you or I.

  2. That was very enlightening. Had no idea this sort of deliberately destabilising and disingenuous governmental interference occurred in our SoEs directly from the top. There really should be an inquiry into this, and the parties involved held to account.

  3. A devastating critique of National’s incompetance as a steward of the economy. If I were Amy Adams, I’d be keeping my denounciations of Labour and it’s partners to a minimum. It’s called keeping her head down.

    • Yes, but you have both integrity and a conscience, and therefore don’t meet the prerequisites to be a National Party MP. Once you’ve wholly divested yourself of any capacity to feel either guilt or shame, I urge you to apply at once.

      Or… you could just keep being a decent human being and thereby avoid having a dildo thrown at you.

  4. When a-me and her mate ten bridges talk they are actually talking about themselves and their own parties shortcoming. They are sounding like very desperate people.

  5. National – the party that when in government borrowed to pay for tax cuts for the rich.
    Say no more.

  6. Good work Frank. It’s a tragedy that the MSM are asleep on these important matters, and promote ‘ the good financial managers ‘ tripe.

  7. Solid energy went bust because the price of coal collapsed. That coupled with the environmental impact of the business highlights why the State should not own businesses like Solid Energy.

    • Private ownership of New Zealand’s energy sector has not made New Zealand better because there’s a massive corporations with tens of thousands of shareholders built around them. Equally Public ownership of the energy sector has not improved New Zealand because they’re massive bureaucracies built around them. Both solutions come straight out of a 1st year economics textbook that says you have to crush unions and capitalist. Amazing.

    • Uh huh. So why did not every coal company go bust due to said collapse? Perhaps because they weren’t deliberately loaded up to the gills with debt to help bail out a corrupt government, and could thus have self-financed a basic restructure?

    • Riiiiiiight, Gosman, so Minister Power’s demand for more borrowing and debt and 65% of cash reserves, from SolidEnergy, they all had NOTHING to do with SE’s demise?

      It’s a bit rich blaming the state for owning a company when it was the GOVERNMENT of the day that was incompetant, not the state.

      Screwing a SOE just to prove an ideological point is crazy, but then, we expect nothing less from the Right.

    • Gosman: “why the State should not own businesses”

      That should read “why National should not run businesses”.

      Fixed it.

      You’re welcome.

  8. For all the people at Solid Energy who had to watch their business being gutted and destroyed for the comfort of a bunch of temporary ‘public servants’.. Who probably hoped they’d be able to trade their way out of a mire of others’ making. Deepest sympathy.

    That was a terrible terrible thing to inflict on workers, no matter how much they earned.

    Housing Corp is another such: if they could reinvest their dividends instead of passing them in to provide election bribes we’d probably have better housing stock.

    Gosman is right (in a way): no politician should be able to come anywhere near any State-owned enterprise.

    The whole SOE model needs a rark up. Politicians are squishing innovation and enterprise for their own short term pettinesses.

    I wonder if the Coalition will?

  9. …..and now, (in opposition – where they belong!) we have a Bridge to ‘Utopia’…..

  10. It’s well-researched stories like this that should be the lead story on every msm politics report. Sadly, that’s most unlikely.

    Well done, indeed, Mr Macskasy!

    • Well said, Brian.

      I’d heard of shenanigans between Solid Energy and the National government, but had no idea how bad it had gotten. I’m surprised that none of the creditors took legal action against the shareholding ministers for dereliction of duty.

      It is against this backdrop of incompetence that Amy Adams should think carefully before making accusations against the Labour-led government. They have a habit of turning around and biting her on her ass.

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