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Write To SOEs Minister: "Don't Sell Our Power Company"

Keep Our Assets Christchurch Calls On Meridian Customers To Write To SOEs Minister To Say: "Don't Sell Our Power Company"

Keep Our Assets Christchurch (see here http://www.koa.org.nz/p/endorsees.html for the list of KOA’s constituent groups) says that the arguments about the bargain bin level price of Meridian’s share, and about how much or how little the sale will raise, miss the point: that Meridian should not be sold at all. The dismal response to the share float, even at giveaway prices on a buy now, pay later basis, proves that “mum and dad” New Zealanders are not stupid. They know that they already own Meridian – that’s what public ownership is, after all - , so why should they pay to buy a tiny piece of what they already own in full. They recognise that the Government is trying to bribe them with their own money, and is trying to sell them back stolen property that already belongs to them.

The Meridian share float (and those of Mighty River Power and the other SOES on the block) is nothing to do with “paying off debt” and everything to do with pressing on blindly with the failed 1980s’ ideology of “public bad, private good”, and handing over more of the New Zealand people’s publicly-owned assets to transnational Big Business. How long before the long suffering taxpayer has to rescue one or more of these and buy them back, as happened with the railways and Air New Zealand?

And the argument over the size of the dividend that Meridian and the other electricity SOEs pays to the Government also misses the point – that What is needed instead is a political commitment that State-owned companies supplying an essential service actually be a public service rather than profit-obsessed corporations, ones which are publicly owned whilst exhibiting all the worst characteristics of privately owned Big Business corporations. That requires a political decision to change the business model of those State-Owned Enterprises from profit to service. That was the status quo in NZ until the 1980s. The country’s electricity system existed to ensure nationwide, coordinated, uninterrupted supply of an essential service, at cost. We did it before: let's do it again.

KOA is calling on all Meridian customers to write to SOEs Minister Tony Ryall to tell him: “Don’t sell our power company”. The template letter is below.

Murray Horton
Convenor

Keep Our Assets-Christchurch
Box 2258, Christchurch 8140
convenor@koa.org.nz
www.koa.org.nz

Tony Ryall
Minister for State Owned Enterprises
Tony.Ryall@parliament.govt.nz
Free post
Parliament Buildings
Wellington 6016

Dear Minister Ryall

I am writing to you, as both a Meridian Energy customer and a voter, to express my disapproval of the float and subsequent sale of Meridian Energy shares.

I have taken pride in being a Meridian Energy customer knowing that this company is owned by the State and as such, all the people of New Zealand.  Further, knowing that this company is based purely on renewable energy sources and its subsequent CarboNZero certification is something I have admired.

If any shares in this company are to be sold, there is no way of assuring that the company will work for the best interest of all New Zealanders, nor our environment.

The International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights talks about standards of living, and quality of life, of which the Government of New Zealand is obliged to do what it can within its resources to best provide for example, warm healthy homes.

If electricity prices are to increase, as is normally the result of privatisation and changing the model from public ownership (and therefore providing energy as a public service) to a corporate model where dividends and share prices become the incentive, the international legal obligation is no longer being met to the best of this Government’s ability.

I urge you to reconsider the Government’s position on the sale of Meridian Energy shares. The economic case for sales appears very weak, the environmental position of Meridian is at risk, and the Meridian customers of New Zealand will face increased power prices.

Indeed, I believe that the whole model of electricity SOEs is flawed. What is needed instead is a political commitment that State-owned companies supplying an essential service actually be a public service rather than profit-obsessed corporations, ones which are publicly owned whilst exhibiting all the worst characteristics of privately owned Big Business corporations. That requires a political decision to change the business model of those State-Owned Enterprises from profit to service. That was the status quo in NZ until the 1980s. The country’s electricity system existed to ensure nationwide, coordinated, uninterrupted supply of an essential service, at cost. We did it before: let's do it again.

Yours sincerely,

Meridian Customer

ENDS

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