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NZ First sold Airport to the detriment of NZ

Thursday 30 June 2005

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

NZ First sold Auckland Airport to the detriment of New Zealand

News today that Auckland International Airport is to pay-out a massive $200 million distribution to its mainly foreign shareholders is a reminder of the damage to our economy caused by the asset sales policy of NZ First, says Progressive MP Matt Robson.

"The company said today that its special payout reinforces the company's commitment to increasing sustainable returns to shareholders and, thanks to former Treasurer Winston Peters, Kiwi taxpayers no longer have their stake in Auckland's monopoly aviation gateway to the world.

"The directors of Auckland Airport are also proposing to increase the ordinary dividend for the 2005 financial year from 90 per cent to 95 per cent of surplus after tax. That is great news for the foreign shareholders of New Zealand's main international airport.

"But the outflow of dividend money out of economy, to the foreign owners of key parts of the economy, is bad news for our current account balance of payments with the world," Matt Robson said.

"The policy of hocking-off strategic assets like Auckland Airport, Contact Energy and our forests by National-led governments in the 1990s means that every Kiwi family today is paying higher mortgage interest rates than we should have to," the Progressive MP said.

In 1998, when Mr. Peters was Treasurer, his government sold 51.6% of the shares in Auckland International Airport. The NZ First-National coalition chose to sell a big chunk of Auckland airport, the monopoly gateway in and out of our biggest city, to overseas' interests.

Bids for shares by small Mum and Dad 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 Changi Airport Enterprises Ltd.

The NZ First-National government planned to sell the government's interest in coal exporter, Solid Energy Ltd., but fortunately was thrown out of office in late 1999 before it had the chance to.

ENDS

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