Friday, June 15, 2012

No Asset Purchases without a referendum

If the parties that lost the last election can demand that the Government seek an additional electoral mandate to implement the policies National stood on in its 2011 manifesto, then surely the same applies in reverse.

Every time the state buys something with taxpayers' money, it should ask permission.

Labour should have held a referendum on buying buy Air New Zealand, buying the Auckland railway network then buying the national rail network then buying TranzRail. 

If the state should gain permission when it sells assets, it should also seek it when it buys them.

Somehow, I doubt the idea will gain traction with Labour and the Greens, because to them when they spend taxpayers money, acquire property for the state - it is "good" for it is for "everyone".

In other words, the state can always accumulate more and more property with your money, but it daren't dispose of any of it.   However, none of that is really a surprise is it?


scrubone said...

That's pretty much the size of it - the government can grow as large as it wants, but heaven help us if someone wants to shrink it!

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Excellent point. BTW I understand second hand that Nick Smith gave an excellent speech in parliament yesterday pointing out the hypocrisy (example after example) of Winston Peters and Labour MPs crying foul over asset sales.

Simon Miller said...

I have an idea. Why don't we allow leasing of the assets, but limit the leases to 10 years and require investment in infrastructure. We can also mandate that the businesses have to become stewards of the land/whatever surrounding the asset. If they don't maintain the land/waterways/etc, then the lease is broken and they lose all monies invested in the asset(s). This way, New Zealand still owns the asset but we allow private corporations to develop them.

And every decade, we are able to put the assets up on the market to have corporations re bid on them.

Anyway, it is just an idea.

Peter Cresswell said...

Why would anyone maintain, invest in or become stewards of something to which they've been given only a ten-year time horizon?

You've just offered someone the best incentive to asset strip the thing in the short time they've got. Well done.

libertyscott said...

Simon, the UK government has done just that with the high speed rail line taxpayers paid for from London to the Channel Tunnel - at a price that is a fraction of the cost it took to build it (which tells you how good an investment it was in the first place). Frankly, unless it is a serious long term lease (Indiana leased out its state toll road for 90 years, which should work for around 70 of those years. The problem is that if it is a dog the incentives remain to give up on it and let it revert to the state, which then wont be able to offload it again without "reinvesting" in it.