The National Party has officially launched its election campaign with a promise that any profits made from partial asset sales will go into a multi-billion dollar infrastructure fund.[image:3554:full]
National's policy is to sell up to 49% of four state-owned energy companies - Meridian, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy and Genesis - and to reduce the Government's majority shareholding in Air New Zealand.
The party expects this to raise $5 - $7 billion over three years which it will use to form the Future Investment Fund.
National Party leader John Key told the campaign launch at Sky City in Auckland that the funds would be used to upgrade and modernise existing assets without the need to borrow offshore.
"The Future Investment Fund will be used to buy new assets on behalf of New Zealanders and to upgrade and modernise our existing assets.
"New projects I'm talking about are things like major hospital redevelopments, new schools and transport projects."
Mr Key said the intention was for the fund to run for at least five Budgets, but this would depend on how much the mixed ownership model raises.
From the fund, $1 billion would be set aside for modernising schools, including for upgrading existing schools and building new ones.[image:3557:half:right]
The party would fund the development of a dedicated on-line network which schools would be able to access once they are wired up for ultra-fast broadband.
Mr Key's speech to an audience of about 700 people was disrupted by four protesters who threw a fire alarm type device onto the stage.
They were ejected from the building by several police and Sky City security officers.
About 100 protesters staged a sit-in outside the venue, blocking the road. Mana Party candidate and former Green MP Sue Bradford was among the group and said they were protesting about the effect of National's policies on beneficiaries and unemployed people.
Short-sighted plan, says Labour
Labour Party leader Phil Goff says it is incredibly short-sighted to sell assets that make money for the Government.
"You can only sell your assets once. (John Key) says he's selling half, but what happens next time you want to build a school, do you sell off other assets?"
Mr Goff says New Zealanders are overwhelmingly against National's partial sales programme.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says the funding of education and health should not be reliant on the sale of assets.