Chorus, the Commerce Commission, and the Common Good

The government has told us repeatedly it can’t intervene in decisions of private companies or even State Owned Enterprises. It said it couldn’t possibly direct KiwiRail to build its rolling stock at Hillside Workshops, even though KiwiRail is actually owned by the government and hundreds of jobs were lost. It says it certainly can’t ensure that aged care workers receive a living wage, even though the government pays the full cost of service provision and has to top up the low wages with the likes of accommodation supplements and working for families tax credits.

However it appears that the government can intervene to make sure Chorus shareholders don’t miss out on any dividends. It is considering simply overruling the Commerce Commission decision that found Chorus was overpricing its copper wire network and consumers were paying too much for the internet services. Continue reading

Kiwi Made Means Nothing to KiwiRail

“Kiwi made” obviously means nothing to KiwiRail. The State Owned Enterprise’s latest tendering decision is to outsource the manufacture of its railway couplers, used to connect rolling stock.  This will see the Dunedin workers who formerly made them reduced to a four day working week and facing a tenuous future.

The Alliance Party believes local procurement is essential for any government service or local body to provide employment and training opportunities and to ensure money spent goes back to local communities. Continue reading

Would the Real Left Wing Parties Please Stand Up?

The Alliance Party is amused and, quite frankly, confused, to hear John Key repeatedly refer to a possible Labour/Greens coalition as a “far left” government in the media these days.

Key bases his assessment on their new power policy which would see a government provider buying all the power from generators. However Key should ponder the fact that the state owned all aspects of power generation and the distribution of electricity right up until 1999. And no one ever described the Holyoake and Muldoon led National governments of this era as “far left” because electricity was state owned.

Not that being a “left wing” party is a bad thing. For the majority of New Zealanders, having a genuine “left wing” coalition government would be very good indeed. Continue reading

A Solid Look at SOEs

Solid Energy is going down the gurgler, NZ Post is trying to get out of delivering mail, KiwiRail is closing railway lines and ordering all its new stock from offshore, and Mighty River Power is throwing money at exploration work in Chile – $250 million to date and growing – desperate to find a viable geothermal field to exploit Chileans facing power price hikes because of drought conditions.

What do all these entities have in common?  They’re all State Owned Enterprises working against the best interests of New Zealand. Continue reading