Today's quote comes from John Roughan's piece in the NZ Herald, where he neatly sums up the apparent disconnect between opposition to asset sales, and National's continued high levels of support:
John Key's achievement this week deserves more recognition than it might ever receive. In a year or two, when the power companies are all on the sharemarket and it seems entirely normal that they would be, it will be hard to credit how much opposition there has been.Key was heavily criticised, by me as much as anyone, for excessive caution in his first term. When eventually he committed himself to some partial asset sales and said he would go to the country with the programme first, it was brave.But I didn't realise how brave.One of the four power companies had been privatised long ago. A float of minority stakes in the other three, plus the coal mining operation and Air Zealand, didn't seem drastic.It was incremental, logical. It hardly compared with the courage of the fourth Labour Government or National in the 1990s, though neither of them had dared to put privatisation to a public vote.Key's courage last year was trumped in my book by Labour's decision to go to the election with a capital gains tax, though he chose not to make an issue of that.Labour, however, staked its whole campaign on opposition to asset sales.The Opposition did far more than Key to ensure the election was a referendum on them.Mercifully, I wasn't here to see what happened but it seems to be agreed National was returned despite its programme, not because the nation was reconciled to it.