Good morning Venezuela, and welcome to your new reality.
Winston Maduro has announced he's buying back the power companies. Yes, the campaign has just got this mad. Richard Prosser, a New Zealand First MP, announced to a business gathering that they needed to sell their Contact shares right now because New Zealand First is going to re-nationalise the power system.
The power system has of course been floated, and your Mercurys and Contacts have been snapped up several years ago by a lot of mum and dad investors. Although somewhat controversial at the time, it was a successful sale, and gave the government money to spend on what it deemed more important projects.
Anyway, and here's the really mad bit, someone who actually knew what they were talking about at the meeting asked how they propose to buy all the stock back, given it would cost about $11 billion, to which Prosser said they wouldn't be paying the going rate. So welcome to Venezuela, or any other crackpot, third-world regime you want to name, where this sort of madness is passed off as governance.
And you wonder why Bill English quite rightly said they don't want Peters anywhere near the finance portfolio - which Winston yesterday said was extreme arrogance. I think most of the rest of us would say that's common sense. And David Seymour weighed in calling Prosser an f***ing idiot, about which, I am assuming, at least tens of thousands reading this are thinking: he's right.
Of course the upside of all this is none of it's ever going to happen, given you will note it's not a bottom line. And even if it was, no one in their right mind, in terms of Labour or National, would touch it with a barge pole.
To be fair to New Zealand First, this nuttiness isn't new; it's nuttiness they pedalled three years ago, so at least they're consistent. And then it turns out Prosser got it all wrong anyway, given Peters had to come to his rescue and say they weren't stealing the companies back; they would pay market rates, which means the original question still applies: where on earth is the $11b coming from?
And this shambles, this chaotic 24 hours, is where they let themselves down so badly. On his good days, Winston is coherent, experienced, and the odd policy makes sense. He's not a danger to himself, far less us. But then he unloads this bollocks.
Can you imagine the global reaction if the world woke up to an otherwise stable successful country like ours suddenly re-nationalising businesses? Can you imagine the flight of capital, the crash of the market, the exit of people? Why, why, why, when he wants to be taken seriously, does he peddle this madness?