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Government Bullied Into Selling Powerco Shares

21 December 2004

Government Bullied Into Selling Powerco Shares

Rt Hon Winston Peters has accused the Government of being bullied into approving the sale of a majority stake in New Plymouth based Powerco to Australian Prime Infrastructure.

This follows the release of official papers that show Finance Minister Michael Cullen and acting Land Information Minister Paul Swain were advised that a refusal to approve Prime Infrastructure’s purchase of Taranaki electricity and gas company Powerco shares could hurt trans-Tasman relations.

“Lower down the pecking order the papers also showed the deal failed to guarantee the creation of new job opportunities or keep existing jobs that might otherwise be lost, said Mr Peters.

“At no stage did Dr Cullen reveal he was being heavied by the Australians.

“It is outrageous that he caved in to pressure from the Australian business community and announced on October 21 that the purchase complies with New Zealand’s regulatory framework so the Government cannot credibly intervene to prevent it under the Overseas Investment Act.

“Dr Cullen and his Labour colleagues have let the country down and are no different to National when it comes to flogging off valuable publicly owned assets overseas.

“New Zealand First will put an end to this type of sale after the next election,” said Mr Peters.

ENDS

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