Saturday, March 30, 2013

SOE Sold Cheap

Another day, another omnishambles in the SOEs. Fran O'Sullivan takes to the National cabinet with a chainsaw today, letting rip at Key, English and Ryall for playing footsies with Rio Tinto:
Key probably finds it hard to compute that his Government is now on the backfoot as it tries to scramble together a short-term subsidy to prop up the energy-hungry smelter for a few more years, all the while as the Treasury floats down 49 per cent of the shares in Meridian Energy (which supplies electricity to the smelter), and other state-owned electricity generators like Mighty River Power and Genesis Energy.

Yet again, the National Roundtable Brains Trust has been caught short on the SOE sales policy. Like the Maori Council water dispute and the 'Mums and Dads Investor Guarantee', the Rio Tinto shakedown shows how little foresight and planning went into National's SOE sell-off policy.

It all makes Rogernomics look clean and fair in comparison. I don't shy away from the SOE model that was introduced by Prebble at the time. It was always a temporary measure, a holding pattern for public float or private sale. This model was supposed to be a temporary thing, not some dead albatross hanging around the taxpayers neck some thirty years later.

Mistakes were made at that time. National not only didn't learn from them, they are compounding the damage without rhyme or reason.

Once they've finished paying off the admen, the investment banks, the Megacorps, the investors who don't flip their shares straight off, and every other interested party with their hand in the pocket or the till, it'll be a wonder that this half-arsed garage sale was worth the hassle.

I hope some gronk names a newly discovered jellyfish after John Key. Rest assured, this thing comes with a hell of a sting.