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English contradicts himself on SOE fire sale

24 September 2007

English contradicts himself on SOE fire sale

Bill English’s contradictory statements on National’s plans to sell off taxpayer-owned assets reveal he is making up policy on the hoof, Acting Finance Minister Clayton Cosgrove said today.

“Within a day of announcing that National intends to flog off our State Owned Enterprises, Bill English has already made massive contradictions about what taxpayer-owned assets he’s going to sell, how much of them he’ll sell, and who he’s going to sell them to,” Mr Cosgrove said.

“He said on ‘Agenda’ that National didn’t have a list of SOEs it was putting on the block, but in the next breath he talked about selling off our electricity companies. National has already promised to put Landcorp and Solid Energy up for sale. What other assets are on the ‘for sale’ list that Bill English says doesn’t exist?

“He told the ‘New Zealand Herald’ that the government would retain a controlling share of partially-floated SOEs, but then said a National government would consider selling up to fifty per cent of the companies. That’s selling off your controlling share, not retaining it.

“He also told ‘Radio Live’ that shares would be snapped up by local investors that would keep control of the organisations in kiwi hands, while admitting in the ‘New Zealand Herald’ that the shares could go to an overseas owner.

“Bill English wants to go from everybody owning our SOEs and getting the dividends, to only a very small group – probably overseas – that will own the assets and get the dividends.

“It’s a farce for Bill English to say that SOEs need to be sold off so that kiwi mums and dads can invest in them, because they already own them. Now National is saying to the same kiwi mums and dads that they can buy these assets they already own for a second time.

“Bill English needs to come clean about what assets will be sold off under National and who is going to control those assets.

“The bottom line is that kiwis do not want their state-owned assets flogged off.”


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