Memo to local MP: turn Power on, Bill

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Queenstown finance company victims who feel the Government is failing to sort out the industry should consider taking their concerns to local MP Bill English.

Latest estimates by investor group Exposing Unacceptable Financial Activities suggest 180,000 New Zealanders have more than $5 billion worth of savings either lost or locked up after the crash.

Some will die before their money is unfrozen. People have lost homes – others fear losing them. Worry makes some unfit for work. A few are suicidal.

EUFA national spokesman Gray Eatwell says finance companies caught “a hell of a lot” of Wakatipu people.

As Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, “Solid Southland Bill” English has clout. If anyone can get Commerce Minister Simon Power on track, it’s him.

Power deserves a D for persevering with Labour’s Capital Market Development Taskforce, which is looking after the requirements of the big guys raising money. National deserves another D for allowing former Labour Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel to chair Parliament’s Commerce Committee.

This will provide long-term storage for some initiatives to tighten up on capital raisers. Committee chair selection is complicated but finally, party numbers count.

On Dalziel’s watch, finance companies crashed. Many believe the Securities Commission, the Commerce Commission and the Reserve Bank were caught slumbering despite having tools to avert some of the carnage.

“There’s no way in the world she’s going to capitulate on the fact that many of these things were wrong because it throws a bad light on her immediately,” Eatwell told BizScene.

However, he generally finds Parliamentary committees, packed with junior MPs, “a crock – absolutely ineffective…a way of sweeping something under the carpet”.

Eatwell reckons Dalziel as minister talked tough but didn’t enforce her words.

He also criticises politicians’ praise for banks. Internationally, Governments recognise banks caused the finance crisis.

“In NZ they are trying to say, ‘No, our banks are great’.”

Hundred per cent loans, unsecured lending to boy racers and encouragement of higher credit card limits happened in NZ, Eatwell points out.

Bio-indigestion

English as Finance Minister holds half the shares in Solid Energy, the coal miner. Power, as Minister of State-Owned Enterprises, holds the rest.

Our MP thus has a foothold to stifle Labour’s diversion of Solid Energy into rapeseed diesel. Generally well-run and enterprising, Solid Energy has plenty of promising challenges, including coal-seam gas and chemicals from lignite.

However, Solid Energy has caused thousands of South Island hectares to be planted in rapeseed for biodiesel.
The world price of an edible oil such as rapeseed (canola) is about $1.25 a litre. Forbes magazine reckons processing and additives lift this to about $1.62 at the refinery gate.

Normal diesel retails in Queenstown as I write for $1.01.

NZ last year imported 1.1 million tonnes of palm kernel to feed cows. It also imported more than 150,000 tonnes of feed sorghum.

Biodiesel rapeseed means less NZ land for feed. Greenies should consider carbon emissions from feed imports. Plus the tractor diesel and oil-based fertiliser for NZ rapeseed crops.

International biofuel madness lifted world food prices 75 per cent, according to a World Bank report leaked 10 months ago.

Neill Birss will chase up your biz tips: neillb@maxnet.co.nz