Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Its not over

Yesterday Parliament passed its privatisation bill, and in a few days it will become law. But the battle against asset sales isn't over. Firstly, there will almost certainly be a court case, as North Island iwi contest the government's right to give away their water (or their redress for the theft of their water). This looks like a straight re-run of New Zealand Māori Council v. Attorney-General, and its hard to see it having a different result: an order prohibiting any sale of contested assets until a settlement (either a proper one, or a deal protecting that redress) is reached. Any such settlement will significantly undermine the economic case for a sale - not that the government seems to care too much about that.

Secondly, there will be a referendum. The petition already has a hundred thousand signatures, and at this rate it will be ready for certification in three to six months, with a vote within a year after that. It is unlikely that National will win that vote, and its important that it is used to put the fear of the electorate into their long tail of low-ranked time-servers in marginal seats. These MPs are unlikely to be happy at the thought of John Key's gamble ending their political careers, and enough voter pressure could easily turn into political pressure inside National to halt any future sales.

Finally, of course, there's an election in 2014. And at that election, the parties who voted to sell us out need to be punished, and punished so thoroughly that they are either forced from politics or are scarred for life by the experience. Labour suffered this sort of annihilation in 1990, and it scarred an entire generation of their politicians, and caused them to reverse their position on asset sales (and NeoLiberalism in general). We need to do the same to National, to permanently drive out this toxic idea that they can loot the state for the benefit of their rich mates.