I am not going to insult the intelligence of the National Government by swallowing the line that it was primarily the decision of the Waitangi Tribunal on water claims that has led to the delay in asset sales.
Four years of reduced electricity demand made what was already a parlous economic proposition a not very bright idea. Research revealed the SOEs as overvalued.
Somebody didn’t do their homework properly. Water management, demand and longstanding Maori claims should have been anticipated. Were they in Treasury’s brief. If not, why not? The market functions in real world not textbooks. I’ve long thought a blowtorch should be turned on the teaching of economics in our universities. The simplistic jihad for deregulation, privatisation and putting paid to the welfare state’s alleged weakening of the competitive drive ended in financial meltdown, more on benefits, more corruption, more white collar crime, more debt and grossly uneven distribution of wealth.
The sales process has turned to custard but accepting the humiliation of getting it wrong seems beyond National’s competence. Key’s cold smile, highpitched giggle and ‘we won, you lost’ approach to general doubters (who were in the majority) had been arrogant. Michael Cullen did it before him but some thought he was arrogant too. It comes with the job. So what could the spin doctors do with the share price looking worse by the day? Find a political scapegot. It wasn’t hard. Enter longstanding Maori claims to provide the heaven sent opportunity to once again employ the dogwhistle iwi v kiwi tactics that served so well in the 2005 election. In this case a little less strauightforward as National hopes to buy off the iwi.
And cue Nanny Paula to deal to women and children. A conveniently disproportionate number of DPB beneficiaries are Maori. The overall outcome will be high levels of spittle and little effort to come up with solutions for serious social and economic problems. The path to the next election is clearly mapped out: greedy and bludging Maori versus virtous battlers. Key will carry on with a dizzying tarantella defying Maori claims then offering consultation. The feeling is growing is that he is off to the golf couse as soon as possible.