21 Nov 2011

National planning fire sale of assets, Goff warns

7:39 pm on 21 November 2011

Labour Party leader Phil Goff is accusing the National Party of preparing for a fire sale of New Zealand's assets at a time when the international economy is uncertain.

If re-elected on 26 November, National says it will proceed with the partial privatisation of state-owned energy companies Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power and Solid Energy and reduce the Crown's shareholding in Air New Zealand.


On Monday, Mr Goff took his campaign to stop asset sales to state-owned Mighty River Power's Southdown Power Station in Auckland.

He told a small crowd of Labour MPs, candidates and supporters that New Zealanders do not want assets such as the power plant sold.

"It belongs to you as New Zealanders and we are determined that in five days' time it will still belong to you as New Zealanders, because we're going to keep our assets by voting in a Labour-led government."

Mr Goff says National can't even be sure it will get the $5 billion to $7 billion it expects for partial asset sales.

On Sunday, the Labour leader urged supporters to campaign relentlessly until election day on Saturday. Mr Goff addressed a crowd of about 800 at a rally in central Auckland, saying National's plan may provide a short-term sugar-fix, but does nothing to prepare the country for the future.

"I'll look people in the eye and tell them that only a vote for Labour can stop the asset sales. I will work harder this week than I ever have. I will not rest, because this is our last chance to save our assets."

Mr Goff says New Zealand is billions of dollars in debt - and the country needs its assets to get it out of the hole.

Key confident public will like idea

National leader John Key says he believes most New Zealanders will like the idea of partial state asset sales once it can be seen in operation.

"I believe that New Zealanders like the mixed ownership model ... I think they will see over time those companies will perform better.

"We want to build a high growth economy - and we want to do that without putting further debt on the books - and that is one of the choices that we're giving New Zealanders which is, more investment in those areas is very important."