Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Asset stripping the country

John Key has finally revealed National's plans for privatisation, "asking" Treasury to "advise on the merits" (rubber stamp) of selling up to 49% of Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy, Genesis and Solid Energy, as well as most of its stake in Air New Zealand.

These are our core energy and tourism assets, and they deliver nice returns to the government - $700 million last year from the electricity companies alone. Currently, that money is used for the benefit of all New Zealanders, resulting in lower taxes and better schools and hospitals. Key wants to privatise that revenue stream, so it flows straight into the pockets of his rich mates and foreign investors. As for the one-off gain, he's already given it away in tax-cuts to the rich. Meanwhile, he's also planning to run a Richardson-style hyper-austerity programme, cutting the new spending allowance in future budgets from $1.1 billion to only $800 million. Given that health alone requires that much extra a year just to cover inflation, the result will be a progressive running down of our health and education systems, with lower wages for doctors and teachers, and schools and hospitals falling down due to deferred maintenance. But Key and his mates will be sitting pretty, because they'll have low taxes (which they cheat on anyway), and our power companies.

This is what National does: asset-strip the country for the benefit of the rich. They're planning to do to New Zealand what Fay and Richwhite did to NZ Rail. But they can only do it if they have an easy majority after the next election. So, if we want to protect New Zealand from these financial predators, we need to stop that from happening.