Thursday, June 14, 2012

John Key Has No Mandate For Asset Sales!

Looking skyward and whistling is not listening!


When the National led Government struggles to explain or justify its policies it resorts to its trump card "we have a mandate". 

This claim was first used when the introduction of National Standards in Eduction met widespread criticism. National had indeed promoted the Standards in their 2008 election campaign and there was broad support for them, but there was no detail in the policy and the justification for them had no professional basis. What was introduced as the National Standards has struggled to deliver the clarity of reporting that was claimed nor have they made any perceptable difference to those struggling children who were purportedly going to benefit from their introduction. The National Party has still not delivered on this "mandated" policy. 

The National Party received a tenuous mandate to govern when elected in 2011, their claim that the election was a resounding victory is a huge exaggeration. In one of the worst turnouts in New Zealand's election history (74%) National failed to win a clear majority with only 47% of the vote and therefore 53% of those who voted did not vote for them.  The election was not fought on policy as National has tried to claim but on the personality of John Key and some of his popularity was based on the perception that he listened and responded to public concerns. Even during the election campaign the policy of a partial sale of state assets was not well supported and the details behind it were deliberately hidden. Not only did National block close scrutiny of their asset sale policy but they refused to share any of their policies on our national broadcaster's election website. If the sale of state assets was a major pillar of their campaign then this was not well promoted and voters were not provided with the information to vote on this in an informed way.

To progress the asset sales the Government has had to pass new laws and 1430 written submissions to the related "Mixed Ownership Model" legislation were received and 100 of those submissions were  presented orally to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee. Practically all submissions (1421) were opposed to the Government's plans and, given the enormity of these plans, one would expect full and careful consideration of the evidence provided. Not only were submitters treated with some disdain from the National Party members of the committee but the chair, Todd McClay, demanded that the deliberations be cut by six weeks. This undemocratic process became even more pronounced when it was revealed that Treasury Officials had written their final report before all the submissions had been fully heard and considered. 

With the sudden change to the original timeline the Green Party were forced to present their rushed minority report without the opportunity to circulate it amongst their caucus, totally against existing conventions. The bill was passed last night with a majority of one (61/60).

Grey Power, New Zealand's University Student's Association and the CTU have joined forces with the Green and Labour Parties to promote a petition demanding a citizen's initiated referendum on the asset sales. Russel Norman has requested (due to the mounting evidence from most opinion polls, the submissions to the select committee and the minimal majority in passing the bill) that the sales be delayed until December when the strength of the petition can be ascertained. The request was brushed aside and Mighty River will be up for sale after this July.

This National led Government has not given due diligence to either establishing the long term value of the asset sales nor to ensure good democratic process is followed. John Key led a personality based election campaign that largely relied on the public perception that he listens to public concerns and his election was a actually just a mandate for him to continue listening. John Key has no mandate to sell our state assets and he has stopped listening!


Russel Norman's excellent speech against the bill provided the facts against National's fiction.

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