22 November 2013

Why the asset-sales referendum is not a waste of time and money

Many people have criticised the referendum for the reasons below (which I set out to refute):
1. The government ran for office in 2011 partly on its asset-sales policy, and so it has a mandate to go ahead now.
Yes the National Party did campaign on that policy, and they did regain office. But voters vote for numerous reasons, and we know for a fact that many who did vote National were not really happy with that particular policy. Furthermore, most voters voted for parties that oppose asset-sales.
2. The sales are underway now, and the referendum is not binding on government anyway, so the horse has bolted.
Instead, I argue it is important that NZ'ers have their say on this issue now, as future governments will take political stock of the results of the referendum. The higher the turn-out, the greater the political impact on future thinking about asset-sales. Keep in mind that the remaining 51% in public ownership still needs consideration.
I won't at this point get stuck in to the merits of asset-sales. It's up to each voter to decide. I have blogged in the past to say that I will not personally be buying any shares, though.
A high turn-out in the referendum will give this and future governments a clearer democratic message about where we stand on this important issue. Sending in your vote is not a waste of time!


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