Editorial: History in the making: how we saw 2012

3 comments
The Government's contentious efforts to sell shareholdings in its big electricity generators elicited the most editorial commentary.

The issue demanding most attention in 2012 from the editorial column was the Government's efforts to sell shares in its big energy enterprises. Photo / Andrew Warner
The issue demanding most attention in 2012 from the editorial column was the Government's efforts to sell shares in its big energy enterprises. Photo / Andrew Warner

One of the luxuries of offering a daily view of passing events is the record it leaves, for what it may be worth, at the end of a year.

Counting back, the issue demanding most attention from this editorial column in 2012 was, unsurprisingly, the Government's efforts to sell shareholdings in its big electricity generators. The Mixed Ownership Model was a centrepiece of last year's National Party election campaign, a lonely, bold reform in the manifesto.

Yet even with its mandate the Key Government spent a year hitting and removing political and legal hurdles. In 10 separate editorials, we argued in favour of the part-sales for economic gains but urged genuine consultation with Maori to avoid the sales reinforcing iwi grievances. We lamented the Government's "political timidity trumping market nous" in proposing bonus shares for mums and dads, noting that share values would be initially depressed by the move.

The country awaits a Supreme Court hearing on water rights next month and the first listing being delayed well into 2013.

Twin issues affecting the port of Auckland also featured prominently in editorials. First, the industrial dispute which resulted in a prolonged lockout, legal fight and then unexpected capitulation by the port company, which had boasted a bulletproof case. That tedious union versus management saga was linked to the other major factor affecting the port, competitiveness of port companies here and overseas and the future size and form of a port on the Waitemata Harbour.

Child abuse and poverty were a regular issue of debate. We praised work by the Children's Commissioner, broadly backed welfare minister Paula Bennett's drive to have mothers on the DPB return to work early but drew a line at her suggestion that courts should be able to ban child abusers from having more children.

The Accident Compensation Corporation's troubles were dissected eight times. Its unconscionable refusal to pay claims for injuries because of so-called degeneration was of significantly more concern than the email leak of limited details of sensitive claims to an Auckland woman.

Yet it was that leak and the foolish involvement of a former minister, Nick Smith, followed by the exit of the obstreperous chairman and his chief executive, which forced the change ACC obviously needed.

We supported the sale of the Crafar farms to a legitimate Chinese investor, and Justice Forrest Miller's new test for what extra value foreign investors must bring to New Zealand. We opposed the Government linking its need for an international convention centre to SkyCity casino's unrelated desire to renew its licence and expand its poker machines.

Politically, the fortunes of Labour leader David Shearer just edged the popular but erratic performance of Prime Minister John Key in our comment. We regularly judged the Government timid - on asset sales, MMP reform, the superannuation age and universal payments. We called for Act leader John Banks to resign over his mayoral donations, twice; so far to no avail.

Donations to Mr Banks apart, the Kim Dotcom case featured just twice. In January his relative obscurity saw us refer to him as "Kim Schmitz, a German who has renamed himself Kim Dotcom". How far he's come.

In sport, the success of the host city and our team at the London Olympics dominated, but rugby forced its way into our commentary about once a month during the season. That included in October admitting we had it wrong a year earlier counselling against Steve Hansen as head coach of the All Blacks. We are happy to stand corrected.

- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 23 Aug 2014 05:25:33 Processing Time: 644ms