17 Jun 2010

Solid Energy chairman's remarks out of line - Brownlee

8:09 pm on 17 June 2010

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee says Solid Energy chairman John Palmer's suggestion that the state-owned mining company be partially privatised is out of line.

Mr Palmer says Solid Energy needs up to $10 billion in capital to expand.

He said on Thursday that partial privatisation would, in his view, help the company achieve its commercial potential and also help the Government's financial position.

But Mr Brownlee says Mr Palmer is not in a position to make such comments.

Mr Brownlee says that Mr Palmer, as an appointed, not elected, chairman was able to express only his personal views.

He says the Government has made it very clear it does not intend to sell any assets this term, and any change to that policy would be signalled when it seeks re-election.

The Government has signalled it would consider asset sales if elected for a second term, although Prime Minister John Key has ruled out selling KiwiBank after a public outcry.

Mr Palmer argues it's not about selling the family silver, but about "gold-plating" the family silver that New Zealand has left.

Solid Energy is worth $2.5 billion.