Alasdair Thompson of the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) could be forgiven his sentimental journey down memory lane with the election of the National Government.

However, his dream of selling off the Ports of Auckland didn't float in the glory days of the 1990s when selling off the family silver was in fashion. It is even less likely to meet with success in 2009.

Times have moved on. The tide is running against the privatisation agenda. In case Mr Thompson hadn't noticed, the global economic crisis brought about by deregulated pirate capitalism is creating something of a backlash.

The general population is coming to the conclusion that their interests are not served very well by handing over control of their economy to a small minority driven by short-term self-interest.

We can point to the local example of the Ports of Lyttelton, where a bungled part-privatisation scheme in 2006 failed after generating major public opposition.

If there is any worse area than ports as a candidate for privatisation, we'd like to hear about it.

The global maritime industry is run by a shrinking group of powerful transnational corporations, whose interest in the New Zealand economy extends to how far they can bleed it.

The Ports of Auckland privatisation plan has, like Frankenstein's monster, been reanimated from the dead. There are a few mad scientists at work trying to get the project moving again.

A campaign is going on behind the scenes and we have now seen within a few weeks strategically placed articles popping up in the business press, usually from the pens of those who stand to gain from selloffs, or in Mr Thompson's case, the representative of such people.

However, it is obvious we have learned from the past, and that is why Mr Thompson throws in an entire school of red herrings to try to conceal the real reasons for the selloff.

His complaints about the David Beckham match loss and ARC share investments have no connection to the ports issue.

These speculative ventures have no relationship to important local infrastructure like the Ports of Auckland, and in fact the ownership of a solid, long-term asset like the port is the complete opposite to the get-rich-quick mentality.

Mr Thompson says the Auckland public does not elect the ARC to run an investment company.

How he considers himself to be a representative of public opinion on such matters is curious. Perhaps if he feels the urge for a leadership role of this type he should offer himself for election on a privatise-the-port ticket and see how he fares.

More importantly, the public of Auckland do expect their elected representatives to responsibly manage key public assets and infrastructure for the good of Auckland and the wider economy.

Mr Thompson's arguments about the future of the port are common ones amongst those who have little or no experience of the maritime sector. The interests of New Zealand are in no way served by selling off ports to global operators.

Around the world this has led to numerous problems including ports of convenience, notorious for the use of short-term labour imported to displace local workers.

Over 99 per cent of our imports and exports as a maritime trading nation move by sea. We have already handed over the bulk of coastal and international shipping to overseas operators who pay no tax.

The last thing we want to do is replicate this disaster by handing over control of our ports to overseas monopolies who can then establish a stranglehold over our economy.

In fact, the Maritime Union has argued for the establishment of a "KiwiPort" where public ownership of ports is combined with a national ports plan to ensure New Zealand's interests are served.

Ports occupy a vital strategic place in our national transport and logistics infrastructure and should be operated for the benefit of industry and the wider community.

We could be excused for disregarding Mr Thompson's heartfelt pleading that money obtained from the hocking off of public assets like the Ports of Auckland could be spent on "public transport".

Please, enough already. If the proponents of port privatisation think the public are going to buy that one, they're dreaming.

What they are after is getting their hands on the profit from privatised enterprises, and perfuming the whole smelly deal with a bribe of a short-term cash fix that will quickly evaporate and leave us with the same third-rate infrastructure as before.

Mr Thompson may not mind being a tenant in his own city and country. The Maritime Union has a different perspective and argues that public ownership of our ports should be extended.

* Denis Carlisle is president of the Auckland Waterfront Branch, Maritime Union of New Zealand.