It appears that the Labour Party are on a policy drive.  I saw a notice of a meeting at the Knox Church Hall and made the point of attending.  The Labour Party is my political bias of choice.  I arrived about twenty minutes before hand and the room was beginning fill.  By the time the meeting got underway the room was full.  The Labour Youth volunteered their seats for the last arrivals and stood for the meeting.  I estimate about 200 people in attendance.  It’s not just a party for teachers and unionists.  There were a diverse range of people in ages and ethnicity.  Maybe this is Dunedin.

Both local Labour Members of Parliament were present and David Clark introduced the Labour Leader David Shearer and finance spokesman David Parker.  People in Dunedin have been badly hit by the loss of jobs from the city.  The leaders were here to introduce their NZPower policy.  People are living in dread by the menace that lurks in their letter box, the power bill, especially those people for whom which bill is paid is a choice each month.

Electrical power is generated by one company and supplied to electricity users by another company.  It turns out that often these companies are part of the same private corporation who can insure the price they pay to themselves is cheaper than that they provide to an outside supplier, maintaining a monopoly and keeping competitors out of the market.  The Labour Party’s policy is to insert a third body, NZPower, to regulate the price between the power provider and the supplier.  Prices are based on the most expensive electricity generators, coal and gas, even though hydropower is the most common and efficient electricity generator in New Zealand.  NZPower would work off a price that is midway between hydro and the more expensive generators.

No surprises that the electricity companies are opposed to this!  The electricity companies operate to increase profit, not to reduce cost.  Which means that electricity prices increase at twice the rate of inflation and in 2012 at five times the rate of inflation.  Now the government is determined to sell of shares of electricity companies and privatise them into the hands of New Zealand’s 3%.  Not a good policy for water that is publically owned.

NZPower is compared with Pharmac.  That worries me as both major parties in national politics favour free trade to varying degrees.  The control of medical drug buying through Pharmac in New Zealand is something that I want to see protected.  That’s another matter.

The MP for Dunedin South, Clare Curran, closed the meeting.  No one seemed to be perturbed by the detail that Shearer and Parker were wearing colour coordinated ties.