Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Advice from Armstrong

John Armstrong has some advice for various Opposition politicians:

Opposition MPs can keep arguing the wrongs of state asset sales. But - judging from opinion polls - that was an argument they had already won long before it began. Those MPs will now only be talking to themselves. Yesterday's announcement - much to National's relief - marks what should be a pronounced shift in the debate. With the float a fait accompli, the question now - as far as most people are concerned - is whether Mighty River Power shares will be a good investment.
The need for Opposition parties to review their tactics was tacitly acknowledged by Winston Peters, who said he would use his influence in the next coalition Government to buy back shares in Mighty River Power and the two other state generators also earmarked for partial floats, Meridian Energy and Genesis Energy.
Peters can try. Given fiscal conditions will still be extremely tight after next year's election, Labour and the Greens will surely have more pressing priorities for any spare cash.

Armstrong is right on the money. The debate on asset sales has moved on. The Government has a mandate - even commentators such as Duncan Garner acknowledge that - and the sale process will be judged by its success or otherwise.

Success seems to be the most likely outcome. Elsewhere this morning the Herald reports that 70,000 people pre-registered by 7pm yesterday to purchase shares in Mighty River Power. That's a response that will be hugely heartening to John Key and his colleagues.

The sale of Mighty River Power will happen. And we wonder how many Labour, Green and NZF MP's will secretly have a punt, or will end up owning a stake in the energy company by way of their Kiwisaver schemes.

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