Wednesday, July 26, 2017

National wants to sell the national grid

Back in 2013, after a hugely unpopular plan to part-privatise electricity gentailers, National promised that there would be no more asset sales. Of course, they were lying:

NZ First says a leaked January 2017 presentation to Transpower by Swiss Investment Bankers UBS reveals the National Government intends to privatise the National Grid.

“We have evidence National is lining Transpower up for privatisation in 2018 if given half a chance,” says New Zealand First Leader and Member of Parliament for Northland, Rt Hon Winston Peters

“A leaked UBS presentation to Transpower scopes the market, investor appetite and even suggests how stakeholder concerns could be managed. UBS has form with Transpower, having arranged for Transpower a Cayman’s Island based financing deal which only ended in recent years.


“An ‘asset sales’ slush fund is proposed for the $2bn plus that this could net and UBS say it could happen “As early as August 2017” but “likely in 2018 and beyond”.

The national grid is vital infrastructure. If it fails, the lights literally go out. And given that past privatisations have inevitably resulted in strip-mining the asset, underinvesting in maintenance and running things into the ground - that looks to be a likely outcome of any transpower sale. And that's something we just can't permit.

Steven Joyce's response when confronted with these papers in Parliament today was to plead ignorance. So we're expected to believe that this was an unsolicited privatisation plan, or that Transpower had been making plans to sell itself without Ministerial approval. But with National crony Tony Ryall chairing the board, that seems highly unlikely. Instead, it seems that National have been secretly planning to sell us out again, but don't dare put it to the people in the election for fear of the reaction. It's typical behaviour from them, and precisely why they can never be trusted in government.