Farrar’s dodgy statistics in energy SOE privatisation debate

David Farrar posted at Kiwiblog yesterday in response to a statement by Phil Goff on energy SOE privatisation:

So in Auckland [listed company] Contact [Energy] is cheaper than the three SOEs. The total opposite to what Goff claimed. They are in fact $178 cheaper than the most expensive SOE, not $500 more expensive… [In] Christchurch … Contact is cheaper than two of the SOEs. … In Wellington they are more expensive, but by only $13 to $148. … [In] Dunedin … Contact is cheaper than two of the SOEs.

On the face of it, that seems to be an argument that a listed privatised company delivers domestic electricity supply as cheaply or cheaper than the SOEs do. But what Farrar has done is cherry-pick only the November 2011 statistics from the Consumer Powerswitch website.

Here’s a chart from that site of the prices for the various electricity retailers to Dunedin over the last three years:

Contact actually had substantially higher prices in Dunedin than any of the SOEs for the entire period between November 2008 and August 2011.  It has been only the last four months that it has been (slightly) cheaper than Meridian and Mercury, but still significantly more expensive than Genesis.

Similarly, in Auckland, Contact was more expensive than any of the three SOEs between July 2010 & July 2011. In Wellington, Contact was most expensive between November 2008 and November 2011– the entirety of the last 3 years. And in Christchurch, Contact was most expensive between March 2011 and July 2011.

Farrar also fails to take into account the pricing of Contact’s 100% owned subsidiary, Empower, which where it provides retail electricity supply has significantly higher prices than any of the three SOEs for the entire three year period (see links to Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch prices above).

Farrar might be right to call out Goff on the $500 annual price differential he claims between Contact and the SOEs – that figure seems to me to have been either exaggerated or cherry-picked.

But to dogwhistle that privatisation will bring lower electricity prices is simply not supported by the evidence.

Incidentally, I’m somewhat suspicious about the sudden and dramatic drop in Contact’s domestic electricity prices from August 2011, just after National’s SOE privatisation announcement.  I’m wondering if this is a loss-leading exercise to gain market share before the SOEs are privatised.

Bad, bad, bad Greens for encouraging people to obey the law

The Young Greens are running a campaign to encourage people, particularly young people, to enrol to vote.

As a gimmick aspect of the campaign, it has a few prizes – the Greens are offering an incentive to encourage people to comply with the law – enrolling to vote (as opposed to actually voting) is compulsory under our electoral law.

But (suspiciously, within minutes of each other) blog posts appeared today from the Nats’ attack team of Cameron Slater and David Farrar, attacking the Greens for encouraging people to comply with electoral law.

I guess Slater and Farrar figure that a low enrollment increases the Nats’ probability of retaining power. So much for the commitment of the political right to encouraging democratic participation. They have decided that is against the interests of the Party they support, and the end of re-electing a National-led government justifies the means of discouraging democratic participation to ensure that end is achieved.

How to kill a blog thread

Interesting times over at Kiwiblog over the last couple of days.

The Melissa Lee hopes for second place thread was running rampant. Natty types were (shock, horror) suggesting that National supporters in Mount Albert should tactically vote for Russel Norman.

By 10.06am yesterday the thread had attracted 95 comments, most of them rubbishing Melissa Lee.

So what does David Farrar do? At 10.19am, he publishes a post about abortion.

And, on cue, all the attention moves to that thread and the “Melissa concedes” one becomes very quiet. Very clever.

I presume Farrar has the voluntary euthanasia post already drafted for the next time Melissa stuffs up.

An election promise I’d love to see them to break

Both David Farrar at Kiwiblog and Steve Pierson at The Standard have blogged on the Sunday Star-Times article on National’s proposed changes to the Resource Management Act, taking, as expected, somewhat different lines on it.

I’m not sure either of them have quite seen the significance of what Nick Smith is reported by the SS-T as saying:

Expect radical changes to planning processes, Smith said, but without changing the environmental purposes of the act. There had been concern among environmental groups that National was going to change those and bring a “stronger development flavour” into the act. It was not doing so.

Now, that’s not (as Steve Pierson suggests) just staying silent – it is Nick Smith saying something that directly contradicts National’s policy going into the election. That policy reads:

The definition of environment is too broad, which allows costly and time-consuming arguments over irrelevant issues. … National will simplify the Act by limiting the definition of environment to natural and physical resources…

David Farrar, for his part, conveniently ignores the National pre-election policy and quotes Smith’s “no change to the environmental purposes” from the S S-T article.

Don’t get me wrong, this was one of the key policies that made the Greens decide they could not support a National-led Government on confidence and supply, so I’d love to see them backtrack from their pre-election position.

But come on David and Steve, let’s try to dig a little deeper here. The question that needs to be being asked is which course of action will National be following – that outlined in its policy pre-election, or that announced by Smith in the S S-T article?

Either way, when the Bill is introduced and we see what the Government actually proposes to do, Nick Smith will have some questions to answer.

Leave me alone – I’m trying to have a holiday

David Farrar at Kiwiblog also has a regular on-line column at the National Business Review. This week his NBR column is a purported SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of the political parties in Parliament.

Among his suggested weakneses for National, he states: “Some new Ministers may prove to be easy targets for the Opposition.”

Now, there’s been quite a lot of activity on the Foreign Affairs front warranting a response from Foreign Minister Murray McCully over the last month. So lets have a look at some of the media comments (or lack thereof) emanating from the Dark Side:

Whaling: Government whaling spokesman Murray McCully said he had not seen the report detailing the proposal…

Whaling: But he says the overall objective needs to be to stop whaling altogether. Mr McCully says he is relaxed about debates on how to do that – but says there are no proposals on the table which New Zealand lends its support to.

Whaling: A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said he was awaiting ministerial advice before responding to the report.

Sea Shepherd: A spokesman for Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the Government would not comment publicly unless the ship intended to enter New Zealand.

Sea Shepherd: A government spokesman said that the Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, would be advised on the matter, as soon as a thorough assessment was completed.

Sri Lankan conflict: A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully told ONE News that New Zealand’s links to Sri Lanka are not strong enough to try to help resolve the conflict…

Israeli invasion of Gaza: Putting pressure on Israel alone to end the violence in Gaza will not stop the death toll rising, says Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.

Israeli invasion of Gaza: Amnesty says it is disappointed at recent comments by Foreign Minister Murray McCully and would welcome a stronger call to end the bloodshed there.

Israeli invasion of Gaza: The Government has taken a neutral stance. Since the conflict began, Foreign Minister Murray McCully has been urging both sides to agree to a ceasefire.

Israeli invasion of Gaza: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said that while deeply disappointed with Israel’s invasion, which has caused over 500 Palestinian deaths, it was “pointless” discussing whether it was overreaction.

Israeli invasion of Gaza: A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand is not a significant player in Middle Eastern politics but the Government is doing all it can.

Israeli invasion of Gaza: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the criticism from Mr Locke that the government had not released a press statement on the Gaza conflict was “pure sophistry”. “I have been available to every news media outlet in the country that has sought comment on the issue from the outset.

Fiji rules out elections: New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully would not comment on the issue.

Relations with Fiji: New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully told Radio New Zealand the issue will be raised in Cabinet when it resumes later this month. He said it will be up to New Zealand’s Prime Minister to decide how to respond as the letter is addressed to him.

Israeli women ordered out of Southland café: Mr McCully told The Southland Times people had very strong views on the situation in the Middle East. “But it’s to be hoped that this sort of thing isn’t to be imported into New Zealand.” He would not answer further questions on the issue.

Israeli women ordered out of Southland café: Foreign Affairs minister Murray McCully did not return calls last night.

On the basis of this performance, I’m wondering if McCully was one of the Ministers who inspired David Farrar’s suggestion some of them could be easy targets. Let’s hope Murray’s holiday doesn’t last the full three year term.

Bad taste blog of the year

Well, I thought the bad taste blog of the year would likely belong to Whaleoil. But right on Christmas Eve, David Farrar has plumbed the depths.

For no apparent reason, and with no substantive commentary under the supposed “humour” category, Farrar has posted a piss-take video of Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you” – the title: “All I want for Christmas is Jews.

And the lyrics include:

…boys with a big schtick…

…and the big box office makes Jews millionaires…

They may have killed our Saviour,
That’s not the best behaviour,
That’s okay he rose three days later.

Now, like DPF, I’m not a religious person. But this stuff is simply not funny. It is blatant racial stereotyping of Jewish people, as well as lacking historical accuracy – by all accounts I have read, it was the Roman occupiers of Palestine and their Jewish collaborators, rather than representatives of the Jewish people, who were responsible for the death of Jesus.

So why, DPF, did you have to post this piece of racist drivel, likely to offend both Jews and Christians, at all – let alone on the eve of a significant Christian festival?