If selling assets worked, we would be rich by now. We've sold enough already.
Asset sales are such a central election issue because they represent profound differences in the way government solves problems.
In the eighties and nineties Labour and then National governments cut the top tax rate, creating huge debt holes that they tried to fill with the proceeds of asset sales.
We ended up with more debt than we started with and the deficits drove inflation so high that interest rates soared over 20 per cent. Entire provincial townships never came out of the longest recession in our post-war history that resulted.
Labour learned from the episode about the time they had to start buying back the airline and railway, and open Kiwibank.
This, of course, is the line that Labour has been running for some time now, and in true party fashion, Pagani parrots it perfectly.
Well, almost perfectly, because his next line stuffs his whole argument; read on:
But now National wants to repeat the failed policies of the past.
National, of course, is NOT proposing a return to the "failed policies of the past". The John Key-led government has learned from the slash-and-burn approach of the Lange/Palmer/Moore years when Phil Goff sat at the Cabinet table, and seventeen state assets were hocked off to the first person who turned up with a chequebook.
What National is proposing is to retain control over a small number of state assets ($5-7b out of a total asset pool of $230b). The Crown will retain a majority shareholding, and will continue to receive income from dividend, albeit at a lesser rate. And the revenue from the partial sale will be put to good use; building new assets.
National has indeed learned from the "failed policies of the past", and is trying a new approach. And we thank John Pagani for giving us the opportunity to make that point!