25 Feb 2014

No more asset sales? Cunliffe doesn't believe it

8:10 am on 25 February 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe says he doesn't think the Prime Minister is serious when he promises no more asset sales under a National-led government.

The partial float of Genesis Energy - the last state-owned company in the Government's asset sales programme - will proceed in the next few months, and John Key says that will be the last asset sale.

Mr Key says politics always come into play when making such decisions but he still believes partially selling Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy, and soon Genesis, was the right thing to do. He says the sales are raising billions of dollars for investment that the Government won't have to borrow.

Mr Cunliffe says he says, because he doesn't believe Mr Key will keep his word.

"This is the same person who said that he would not raise GST before an election, and then raised it straight after. Frankly his track record is such that I'm sure he'll be able to invent a reason down the track to change his mind."

Mr Cunliffe told Morning Report that even if it is this government's last privatisation move it's a crazy thing to do.

"Let's not kid around," he says. "If the Genesis shares are to be sold on a saturated market, he is going to have to bribe people to buy them with discounts and fire-sale conditions that will leave the taxpayer much worse off.

"Make no mistake, asset sales are going to go down in history as one of the black marks against this government. New Zealanders are not going to forget it."

The Labour leader says he will be thrashing this issue repeatedly during the coming election campaign.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says that in order to push the Genesis sale through the Government is going to have to sell it for a bargain price, which means taxpayers are going to "lose massively".

The Government will reveal more details about the Genesis float tomorrow.