Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Telecom litmus test works again [update]

Politicians’ attitude to and handling of Telecom has always offered a litmus test of their attitude to (big) business, never more so than in recent times, by the two most recent governments.

Their handling of Telecom offers an eloquent demonstration of the difference between these two governments in their attitude to business: where the Clark Government did its best to nationalise and dismember Telecom  (scratch today’s Labour MPs, and you’ll still find a Marxist underneath), the Key Government is now doing all it can to turn it into a government department.

Such is the way the Key Government apparently sees business: as part of his corporate state, kept onside by subsidies and state-guaranteed monopolies.

A monopoly we would always have been better off without.

And, sad to say, instead of attacking Key’s crony capitalism Don Brash has shown he still doesn’t understand how politics works.  In accusing the Labour opposition of “sabotage” and “wanton economic thuggery” because it says it would repeal Telecom’s sweetheart fibre contract,  he is opposing precisely the position National should have taken over Kiwisaver when it was in opposition—back when it claimed to be opposed.

As I said at the time, for all their flatulent opposition at its introduction, John Key could have extinguished Kiwisaver before it was even born by one simple statement that, if elected in 2008, he would deal to this scheme as Muldoon did to the last Labour compulsory savings scheme -- by scrapping it.

That would not have been sabotage. That would have been a kindness. It would have shown balls.

No wonder he didn’t try it.

UPDATE: In Australia, opposition leader Tony Abbott has pledged to scrap Julia Gillard’s carbon tax if his Coalition wins the next election. Presumably Brash would call that, too, “economic sabotage.”

Which shows how absurd his mis-directed mini-tantrum really is.


  1. The tantrum is because of the threats of retroactive increases in fines etc:

    “This is wanton economic thuggery,” said Dr Brash. “Whatever the merits or demerits of the bill – and there are two ACT MPs opposed to it – when and if it is passed it will become law. The relevant businesses should be entitled to expect it to be honoured and to proceed on the basis of it, free from the spectre of having the rug pulled from under them by political caprice and retrospective vandalism.

    “How does Mr Mallard expect investors in any area of the economy to engage in business if the rules under which they do so are to be so blatantly subject to his whim?

    “The threats about retroactive increases in fines for breaches of requirements are especially insidious. Mr Mallard may just as well have erected a sign at Wellington airport saying, ‘Invest here at your peril. If we get in, all bets are off.’

  2. Sorry Owen, the way I read it it the threat to repeal standing law would still be thuggery with or without the threats about retroactive fines--which only makes the "sabotage" more insidious.

    By this standard everything from ACT promising to repeal the RMA to Tony Abbott's promise to repeal Julia Gillard's carbon tax could be considered "economic thuggery."

    Which would be absurd.


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