Ongoing activism on asset sales targets Ohariu electorate
15 February 2012
People's Power in Ohariu: ‘tying up’ the four state-owned power companies and an Ohariu Citizens’ Select Committee - a challenge to MP Peter Dunne on state asset sales
Tying a ribbon and balloon to every power pole between Ohariu MP Peter Dunne’s Johnsonville electorate office and Parliament on Saturday 18 February. This is the first action in a ‘People’s Power’ campaign in the Ohariu electorate to challenge Peter Dunne’s support of the National Government’s partial state asset sales.
“It is Peter Dunne’s single vote that has given the Government a one vote majority in the 61 votes to 60 voting split on state asset sales” says one of the organisers and long time Johnsonville resident John Maynard. “Without Peter Dunne’s vote there will be no partial sale of state assets”.
After an initial speech from a People’s Power spokesperson at 1pm on Saturday at the Johnsonville Road entrance of the Johnsonville shopping mall, the Brass Razoo Solidarity Band will lead People’s Power supporters to begin the campaign at Peter Dunne’s nearby electorate office.
Small groups will then begin ‘tying up’ the state owned power companies by setting off to tie ribbons and balloons to all 294 power poles between Peter Dunne’s Johnsonville electorate office and Parliament. “Every time Peter Dunne travels from his electorate office to Parliament, People’s Power wants him to be reminded that ‘the people’s power’ should remain tied up in 100% Government ownership and is not for sale”.
“People’s Power is particularly concerned that Peter Dunne plans to support amendments to the State Owned Enterprises Act without knowing how future provisions of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and other so-called free trade and investment agreements may adversely affect any on-going partial Government ownership of state assets”, he said. “Negotiations on the TPPA are taking place internationally at present, but their content remains a secret”.
The next step in the campaign will be the setting up of an ‘Ohariu Citizens’ Select Committee’ at a public meeting in Johnsonville on 1 March. Last year the Government refused a request to hold a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.
The membership of the Ohariu Citizens’ Select Committee will be endorsed at the public meeting at the Johnsonville Community Centre 7.45pm Thursday 1 March. NZ Council of Trade Unions economist Bill Rosenberg will be making a presentation on the sale of state assets and the implications of free trade and investment agreements like the TPPA. Peter Dunne will be invited to attend the public meeting.
Written submissions will be invited, and oral submissions will be heard at the Johnsonville Community Centre on Thursday 22 March.
“We have heard the strong opposition to asset sales in the Ohariu electorate”, says John Maynard. “Democracy is not just voting every three years and ours is only one example of the campaigns building in opposition to the selling off of state assets. We are encouraging local voters to support any of the campaigns and we will also be assisting those who may want to make written or oral submissions to the Ohariu Citizens’ Select Committee”.
Written submissions of only a few sentences or up to 1000 words can be made anytime before 22 March to:
The Ohariu Citizens’ Select
P O Box 13 367
Saturday 18 February
• Outside Johnsonville shopping mall, Johnsonville Road.
• People’s Power supporters gather for short speeches and music from the Brass Razoo Solidarity Band.
• Move to MP Peter Dunne’s electorate office for squads to begin the tying of ribbons and balloons to every power pole between the Johnsonville electorate office and Parliament Buildings.
• Facebook event avaliable here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/357211707630879/
1 March 7.45pm:
• Public Meeting 7.45pm at the Johnsonville Community Centre, corner Frankmoore Ave and Moorefield Road. Presentation by Bill Rosenberg, economist, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.
• Settling up the Ohariu Citizens’ Select Committee.
Thursday 22 March
• Hearing of oral submissions. Ohariu Citizens’ Select Committee Johnsonville Community Centre.
• Public release of the report of the Ohariu Citizens’ Select Committee
• Presentation of the report at Parliament
In the run-up to last year’s general election Ohariu voters expressed strong opposition to state asset sales. Polling throughout the country in the year up to November’s election consistently showed strong majority opposition to state asset sales. Between 65% and 80% of those polled nation-wide during last year were opposed to any sale of state assets.
In its partial privatisation programme, the Government wants to sell 49% of four electric power companies. However the Government's stated policy of keeping 51% of the power company shares in Government ownership may be severely undermined by the current secret negotiations of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and possibly the provisions of future free trade and investment agreements.
Both Auckland Law Professor Jane Kelsey and New Zealand Council of Trade Unions economist Bill Rosenberg have written and spoken widely about the problems of the sale of state assets and TPPA and its provisons. One provision of particular concern is the proposed investor/government disputes process – the ability of foreign corporations to sue the New Zealand Government about any New Zealand government action such as a law or administrative decision which may affect their profitability or asset values. Any challenge to New Zealand’s law- making sovereignty will take place in a secretive international tribunal and not in a New Zealand Court.
The United States push for the TPPA to have greater control over State Owned Enterprises may hamstring the activities of SOEs and reduce the benefits New Zealanders receive from state assets.
Any decision among the nine countries which are party to the secret negotiations to settle a TPPA does not require a vote in the New Zealand Parliament or even a Parliamentary Select Committee hearing to become binding on the citizens of New Zealand. It is a Cabinet decision.
Last year the Government refused a request from a number of national organisations for a Parliamentary Select Committee hearing on the TPPA.
The Ohariu Citizens’ Select Commiittee will give a voice to those who wish to make submissions on either or both the sale of state assets and the TPPA. To encourage submissions and to assist the Select Committee’s deliberations written submissions will be invited to be anything from one or two paragraphs up to 1,000 words.
The Ohariu Citizens’ Select Committee is also a process to try to bring a democratic decision making process closer to the people.