Mike's Minute: Questions must be asked over Robertson's power grabs

Author
Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Thu, 29 Apr 2021, 10:06AM

Mike's Minute: Questions must be asked over Robertson's power grabs

Author
Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Thu, 29 Apr 2021, 10:06AM

I think the main danger when it comes to Grant Robertson's new powers in terms of the Reserve Bank and Air New Zealand is not just what he's decided he needs to be able to do, but that they are falling over themselves pretending it's no big deal.

I was alarmed to learn Treasury actually wanted more power for Robertson at the Reserve Bank despite them both, Treasury and Robertson, overtly saying the perception could be a negative one.

In other words, it is possible these new powers could be used for political purposes.

Treasury's argument, and Robertson's as well, makes sense to the extent that the Finance Minister has a vested interest in the Reserve Bank's decisions and their out workings. But they keep trying to tell us that although consultation is happening over decision making and who they can lend to, the power remains with the Reserve Bank.

Likewise, the chair of Air New Zealand the other day in response to the Robertson letter about being an active investor and wanting a say in board appointments, said they consulted over these matters regularly and this was business as usual.

The sad thing about that is, it's an insult to those of us that follow and have an interest in such matters. Because we know full well it's not business as usual or anything close to it.

For if it was, there would have been no need for a letter. And in the Reserve Bank's case, no need to change any rules.

The fact Adrian Orr tossed Robertson's first letter about taking housing into account last year into the bin, where it belonged, tells you all you need to know.

This is your next worry. How many of these people who are on the direct receiving end of the Robertson power grab are in reality not happy with matters, but not telling us? And why would they not be prepared to speak out? Who wants a job where you’re muzzled?

Independence, whether at the airline or the bank is to be treasured. Governments with too much power are dangerous, and governments that want even more power are even more dangerous.

Yes, the government has stakes in both enterprises, but history shows things governments run aren't always run well.

Independence has an air of clarity about it. You know why Orr did what he did, or didn’t, on any given day. With governments, often it's a game of subterfuge, vote grabbing, and self-interest.

This feels Muldoon-esque, and there aren't a lot who would argue that’s a good thing.