Posts Tagged ‘privatisation’

Sprung! Nats caught plotting privatisations

August 3, 2008

This will probably be the biggest gaffe truth of the annual National Party conference – Nats finance spokesperson Bill English caught by TV3 on tape saying National will sell-off state-owned Kiwibank ‘eventually’ (i.e. straight after they feel they are safely ensconced in power permanently).

So much for ‘honest’ John Key & his merry band of corporate thieves men. For the National party trolls out there, forming and keeping Kiwibank state owned is good because:

  1. It gives Kiwis competition – a real choice between Oz owned banks that treat us with lousy customer service, and far better locals-focussed service from Kiwibank (and the credit unions). Weren’t National in favour of competition? Or was that not meant to include competition for your rich mates’ banking operations?
  2. It stops vast sums being siphoned offshore by the Oz-owned banks. This lowers NZ’s terrible balance of payments deficit, making our economy stronger.
  3. It strengthens our economy by retaining high-level banking planners/economists in the NZ economy. Oz banks can totally shift this offshore at any time; a domestic bank has no ability to use offshore head office staff to run the local bank.

The follow up questions for National has to be – what other state assets do you plan to sell ‘eventually’? The just-nationalised railways (Ontrack and Kiwirail) that ‘honest John’ was so disparaging about? Surely you wouldn’t sell our roads like you wanted to in the 1990s?

Of even more concern than National’s now exposed policies of privatising state assetts, or even borrowing to give tax cuts to the wealthy, is that of more public-private partnerships.

PPPs are the most dishonest form of privatisation – the state (us taxpayers) get to put up all the capital (and hence take all the risk), so some private company can ‘manage’ the assets’ operations for (typically) 30 years, while making a nice profit on the ‘management’. The company then ‘relinquishes’ the asset back to the state when its good and knackered from their lack of maintenance (increases the profits, dont’cha know?), leaving the taxpayer to fork out for extensively – and expensively – rebuilding the stuffed asset. PPPs have been such a winner overseas.

All premised on the ‘fact’ that the private management company is somehow ‘more efficient’ than state-run management, despite never having supplied proof of this assertion. No wonder National want to sell off Kiwibank – the last thing they want is this awkward reminder of a state bank out-performing their ‘superior’ free market chums…

And the Nats wonder why the Labour-types keep tagging wicked Prince John “slippery”.

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NZ Rugby blues not solved by cash

April 28, 2008

It has been interesting watching the fur fly following the release of the NZRU report into the 2007 Rugby World Cup fiasco.

While ‘Pinetree’ Meads has called for the guillotine for all NZRU administrators (no argument from me on that!), and NZ Herald columnist Paul Lewis wants privatisation to solve all woes, it is clear that neither move will solve rugby issues in NZ.

Lewis himself scotches the idea that privatising the provincial rugby unions or Super 14 franchises (the latter currently owned by NZRU), saying

Once private investment comes to town… clubs can assemble a creme de la creme playing roster and pay them accordingly… private investment is probably the only way that enough money can come into the game here to prevent the wholesale drain of our big boys… [but] It is also a moot point whether this will attract enough money [to keep them].

Tempting as it is to agree with Meads that a reversion to 1 coach and emptying Joe Stalin out of his mausoleum to conduct a little purge at NZRU HQ, such moves are not going to solve the core problem.

When faced with a 25-40% drop in TV viewers and similar drops in gate takings at matches, it is clear that your ‘product’ (the rugby games) are either of such low quality people can’t even be bothered watching them for free, or that you have saturated the market with said ‘product’. Given the quality of matches does not seem to have dropped enough to cause the free fall in viewers, it is the number of matches that is too high.

 Elementary, my dear Watson, yet evidently too tricky for the NZRU to work out. Perhaps that is because recognition of the real problem carries the obvious conclusion the rugby union do not want to hear – less potential revenue making matches to flog to TV corporations.

Like the farmer who killed the fabled goose that laid the golden eggs (to try get more out of the gooses’ insides), the NZRU is faced with having to content itself with a certain number of matches to market, or drowning the market in matches and killing the marketing appeal of said matches.

One solution:

  • Scrap the Super 14 competition now
  • Use the vacant timeslots to develop a set of genuine regional competitions (say South Pacific,  North Pacific, European, South Atlantic) which opens up the comp’s to teams currently excluded, like Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Argentina, while giving the US, Canada and Japan a competitve level of rugby in the north. Strengthens international rugby and reduces the need for players to nation-hop to get good rugby.
  • The above regional comp’s would still leave time (beacause regions have less national teams than the 14 Super 14 teams) for regular scheduled bilateral international tours, which also develops rugby as a global game.
  • Enforcing tight national player origin rules on the above comp’s allows the IRB and national rugby unions to relax player restrictions for club comp’s- not a total cure to player bleed to ealthy club comp’s but a start.
  • Add to the above a higher level of taxation by the national unions targetted specifically for supplementary player payouts, and the financial incentive is there for players to turn out for their national team.

Not that hard really, is it? Which makes you wonder why the NZRU hasn’t paid me a hefty consultant fee yet? hehe.

The last point is the key to solving player drain, but it will draw squeals from the foreign clubs, which are mostly privately owned. The big downside to privatised rugby teams – their owners just want maxiumum profits, so will always be opposed to higher levies on them to fund other aspects of the game.

Oh, and sacking NZRU ceo Steve Tew would help… maybe send Colin Meads to do it? (and wish to be a fly on the wall 😉 )