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Asset sales legacy continues to hurt NZ

25 February 2005

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

NZ First and National asset sales legacy continues to hurt us

The huge outflow of dividend money from New Zealand into the bank accounts of the largely foreign owners of Auckland Airport is a timely reminder of the folly of the asset sales' policies of National and NZ First, says Progressive MP Matt Robson.

"How many hip operations could we have paid for with the dividend money that used to be all New Zealanders', but these days goes offshore to the foreign owners of our monopoly aviation gateway to the world?

"It makes your blood boil to remember what NZ First and National did with New Zealand's strategic assets when they were in government together.

"The majority share-holders used to be the people of New Zealand until the National-NZ First coalition government rudely got involved," Matt Robson said.

In 1998, the National-NZ First coalition government sold the government's then 51.6 per cent shareholding in Auckland International Airport. Since the 1998-1999 financial year, Auckland International Airport has paid out dividends of $399,152,000

The New Zealand Herald reported today that our Auckland monopoly gateway to the world has just boosted its profit by 20 per cent and will be returning "bucketloads" of cash to its owners. It reported the company is considering returning up to a further $300 million to shareholders.

NOTE: In 1998, bids for shares by small Kiwi investors were "scaled-back" because the anti-New Zealand National-led coalition wanted to reserve a "big chunk" of the company for foreign interests. According to Auckland International Airport's annual report for 1999, the biggest foreign holder of shares in the airport was Singapore-based Changi Airport Enterprises Ltd. Winston Peters' May 14 1998 Budget Speech: "Key initiatives announced in the 1998 budget include decisions to negotiate with local government shareholders to divest the Crown's ownership interest in Auckland International Airport. . . The government has also started the process of divesting the Crown's ownership interests in the coal mining State Owned Enterprise, Solid Energy."

ENDS

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