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NZ Power scheme a 'masterstroke'

Monday 22 Apr 2013 9:40 a.m.

Political commentator and former Labour Party president Mike Williams says the single-buyer electricity programme jointly proposed by Labour and the Green Party last week is a "masterstroke".

Speaking on Firstline this morning, Mr Williams said the plan – aimed at halting the incessant rise in power prices – "effectively sabotages" the Government's asset sales scheme.

"I think the power policy is a masterstroke by Labour and the Greens," says Mr Williams.

"I'm not going to buy shares for $3 this year that could only be worth $1 in two years' time."

He says the single buyer plan, known as NZ Power, will have "great appeal", but only if the two likely coalition partners sell it.

"I think it needs to be heavily promoted – politicians think once they say something every knows it, but they don't. They've got to get out and sell."

The Government has come out swinging against NZ Power, calling it "Albanian economics" and a return to Muldoonism. But Mr Williams says the Government's choice of words in attacking it has been poor.

"What struck me is both Simon Bridges and Steven Joyce said this was a policy of the USSR – but they called the USSR the 'United Soviet Socialist Republic', which it wasn't," says Mr Williams.

"It was the 'Union of Soviet Socialist Republics'. If you don't know what you're talking about, the chances are no one else will either."

Last week's announcement coincided with a trio of polls showing the tide could finally be turning for the Opposition. All three have National down, with the 3 News-Reid Research poll showing the smallest decline – down 2 percent to 49.4 percent – and the One News-Colmar Brunton poll the biggest, National down 6 percent to 43 percent.

The third poll, conducted by Roy Morgan, had National down 3.5 percent to 40.5 percent.

"What you do under those circumstances is average them all out, because there is a big gap between the two most important polls," says Mr Williams.

"Reid Research has National 19 points [sic] ahead of Labour, and Colmar Brunton has them seven, so that is a very big gap. But if you average them out the news is that National is down, and then you look for the commonalities – and the commonalities are, in all of them, John Key is down.

"So overall it's not good news for National."

Mr Key's personal ratings are also down, which Mr Williams should be of concern to the Government.

"He's not down by a lot, but you've got to remember that in mid-2011 his rating was 55 percent. He's lost 20 points in two years, and in polls you always look for trajectories and directions, and that trajectory for John Key is not good."

"If you can knock the leader off, then you've got a good chance of knocking the party off."

The Opposition hasn't had much luck landing hits on Mr Key, but the ongoing GCSB saga seems to be taking its toll.

"I have to say that I think John Key, to some extent for the first time, has been the author of his own misfortune, particularly over the GCSB thing, where he just couldn't seem to get it right," says Mr Williams.

"GOOD ON YOU, MAURICE"

Despite his own political leanings, Mr Williams has kind words for Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson, who became an internet sensation with his humorous and hard-hitting speech at the final reading of the same-sex marriage bill.

The speech, in which Mr Williamson spoke of a "big gay rainbow" across his electorate and mocked opponents of the bill, has had more than 1 million hits on YouTube in only five days. Mr Williamson has been invited onto popular US talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Mr Key has given him permission to go if he donates any appearance fee to charity.

"I'm from the other side of the fence obviously, but let's give a big congratulations to Maurice Williamson," says Mr Williams.

"I'd go as far as saying that was an internationally important speech. It was a very good speech, it was a very funny speech and it was from the heart.

"This is an issue in a large number of places. If you look in the [New Zealand] Herald, I think yesterday, there were riots in Paris about the possibility of same-sex marriage; it's an issue in the United States, right across a lot of the states there.

"This is a kind of iconic statement, you know; this is not a big deal, there was humour in it, there was passion. Well, good on you, Maurice."

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