The parties of the Left campaigned long and hard against asset sales. Labour's opposition was tempered by the fact that the 1984-1990 Lange/Palmer/Moore government in which Phil Goff was a well-ranked Minister sold more assets than any government in New Zealand's history or since. To their credit, the Greens have at least been consistent in their opposition to asset sales.
New Zealand went to the polls in November 2011 knowing the different parties' stance on asset sales or partial privatisation. There were no secrets. John Key was able to form a government, and that gave him a mandate to implement policies that he had campaigned on. That's how MMP works, and of course the parties who oppose asset sales are the ones who were most enthusiastic to see MMP retained. Labour's flip-flop saw the party score its worst electoral result in over 60 years, barely registering more than 25% of the party vote.
The parties of the Left of course did not accept defeat. Using provisions for Citizen Initiated Referenda, Labour and the Greens hi-jacked this procedure in an attempt to force a referendum and re-litigate the lost 2011 General Election. For almost a year, Labour and Green MP's have proudly boasted how well petition collection is going, and yet still they have failed to reach their threshhold.
And this morning on Firstline, Tony Ryall explained why:
The Green Party has been accused of collecting signatures from foreigners and children to make up numbers in an attempt to force a referendum on asset sales.The Maori Council yesterday failed in its bid to halt the partial sale of Mighty River Power, the Supreme Court ruling that selling shares in the power company wouldn't impair Maori interests in water.The Opposition has backed an attempt to collect the 310,000 signatures required to force a nationwide referendum on the issue. Earlier this month they said they had nearly 400,000, collecting well beyond the target as it was likely a significant number would be ruled invalid.Speaking on Firstline this morning, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said it's not truly a citizens-initiated referendum, and the result wouldn't matter anyway."Let's be clear about this referendum – it's not a citizens-initiated referendum, it's a Parliamentary-initiated referendum," says Mr Ryall."It has citizens, it has overseas visitors, it has children. This was a Green Party-funded, taxpayer-funded signature collection process. The Green Party paid staff members to go out there and collect signatures.