Article – BusinessDesk
May 2 (BusinessDesk) – Business lobbyists who are calling on the Labour and Green parties to drop their plans for central planning in the electricity sector have made “no effort to contact Labour” on the issue, says the architect of Labour’s …
Talk to us on power, Parker tells business lobby
By Pattrick Smellie
May 2 (BusinessDesk) – Business lobbyists who are calling on the Labour and Green parties to drop their plans for central planning in the electricity sector have made “no effort to contact Labour” on the issue, says the architect of Labour’s policy, David Parker.
The Labour finance spokesman responded, along with Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, to an open letter signed by the leaders of 10 business lobby groups calling on the two Opposition parties to “withdraw these damaging policies” or risk seriously undermining business confidence.
Turei said members of the 10 lobby groups stood to gain lower-cost electricity and slammed their suggestion that cheaper power would encourage households to use too much electricity.
“Business New Zealand and National seem to think that electricity companies’ profits matter more than lower power bills for families and businesses,” she said.
Parker said: “It seems somewhat callous to suggest higher power bills are good as poorer New Zealanders use less electricity rather than adequately heat their homes.”
Beehive sources appeared unimpressed the business lobbies had revived fears about the policy, which dominated the news media last week, just a day before the close-off for retail investors to subscribe for shares in the 49 percent float of state-owned electricity company MightyRiverPower.
The Labour-Greens policy is expected to dampen investor appetite for a politically unpopular policy which nonetheless attracted some 440,000 pre-registrations by New Zealanders interested in investing in the company, which owns the Mercury Energy retail brand.
“Currently super-profits are made on the back of our public resource – free water. This must be addressed if power bills are to be lowered,” Parker said. “The system must be fixed. This is not a regressive step into the past.”
BusinessNZ head Phil O’Reilly “has made no effort to contact Labour to discuss this policy. If he had some of his errors would have been avoided,” Parker said.
Turei said “hyperbolic claims about capital flight and wealth destruction do not impress us or add nothing to the debate.
“NZ Power will lead to a wealth transfer from the electricity companies who have been making excessive profits to families and businesses who will pay less for power.”
The Greens would not have its policy “dictated to us by big business,” she said.