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Near-worthless pledge on asset sales

Hon Jim Anderton
Member of Parliament for Wigram
Progressive Leader

14 April 2008
Media Statement

Near-worthless pledge on asset sales leaves questions unanswered

John Key's claim National wouldn't sell the public's assets "in its first term" is almost worthless, Progressive leader Jim Anderton says.

"Even Roger Douglas couldn't sell much in one term. It took six years just to give away Telecom a few weeks before the 1990 election. What National won't do is state unequivocally that strategic assets should remain publicly-owned."

In 1989 Jim Anderton was expelled from the Labour caucus for being the only MP in parliament who refused to vote for asset sales. He says he has seen slipperiness like John Key's before.

"Mr Key's slipperiness over asset sales leaves a lot of questions unanswered. For example, what would happen to the government's very profitable investment in Air New Zealand? Would National dilute some of our ownership interest? Would it keep exactly the same percentage in public ownership? Or would it let the same people who nearly bankrupted the airline in private ownership take it back for another disastrous go?

"As we saw last week with Auckland airport, control over a minority share still has implications for the entire asset. But National won't pledge not to sell a percentage of any asset.

"National is deliberately leaving unclear whether it would put a Crown company like TVNZ into private management, as National previously tried to do.

"National won't pledge not to prepare assets for sale. The chilling effect and brake on development that goes with getting ready for privatisation is just as hapless as a clear long term commitment to doing a good job in public ownership.

"A National Party that is slippery about its intentions is a party that wants to go back to the failed policies of the eighties and nineties. National hasn't changed.

"And because other minor parties like NZ First and the Maori Party won't say what they intend to do after the election, their supporters don;t know if they would use their votes to help National sell some assets," Jim Anderton said.


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