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Labour: National plans SOE sales

9 August 2005

Labour: National plans SOE sales



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Labour's latest billboard is erected near Westpac stadium, Wellington.

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Prime Minister Helen Clark today warned of the National Party's hidden agenda for privatisation, as new election billboards carrying a similar message were unveiled.

The billboards quote Don Brash on asset sales: "I'm not willing to say."

"We can fill in the gaps in its policy: National will sell New Zealand’s state-owned enterprises,” Helen Clark said.

"National has said that it will be ‘pragmatic’ and 'flexible' about the ownership of SOEs, and does not rule out reducing the ‘degree of public ownership’ in them, as a step towards full privatisation. If National was serious about keeping the SOEs, it would rule out their sale.

"National needs to come clean now about what SOEs will be put on the block, and whether the proceeds are to pay for its over-hyped tax cuts.

"SOES, from the electricity companies to New Zealand Post and Kiwibank, would be considered for sale by National.

"National has stated explicitly that it would sell Landcorp’s farms. Landcorp's assets are worth around $850 million and it delivered dividends of $34 million in 2003-04.

“Its size and scale allows it to conduct valuable research and development which not only benefits taxpayers but also the wider agricultural sector. But its farm properties – land currently owned by all New Zealanders – would be likely to end up in the hands of foreign owners, if National got its way.

"National also wants to flog off Solid Energy, the state’s award-winning coal company judged last year to be Exporter of the Year. Under National, Solid Energy would also end up in foreign ownership.

"Selling SOEs like Landcorp and Solid Energy is not just short-sighted. It is stupid. And it is the sort of ideologically driven nonsense which New Zealanders thought they’d got rid of in 1999. National is prepared to flog off the family silver in its desperate endeavour to fund tax cuts for its supporters.

“Under Labour, New Zealand’s state-owned enterprises will remain in public hands,” Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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