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Govt should just own Solid Energy collapse



Labour Leader

Govt should just own Solid Energy collapse

Ministers should just own the role they played in the downfall of Solid Energy and give up their pathetic attempt to spin that it’s all down to the board, says Labour Leader David Shearer.

“This Government had its hands off the wheel. It let Solid Energy crash. Its incompetence and lack of oversight is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions and has crippled a valuable asset.

“Instead of taking responsibility, SOE’s Minister Tony Ryall keeps squealing that it’s all down to the board. He’s conveniently forgetting that it was ministers who urged Solid Energy to increase its debt and pay more dividends at a time when coal prices were tanking. What was the board supposed to do? Defy them?

“That pressure was confirmed by the company’s former bosses in a select committee hearing today, with former chairman John Palmer agreeing that the Government’s push to lift gearing to 40% was ‘wrong’.

“Tony Ryall keeps repeating that ‘it’s not the debt that is the problem’. But John Key said the complete opposite a couple of weeks ago when he claimed a key contributor to Solid Energy’s woes was that ‘they added gearing to a company that historically had not had gearing’.

“It’s time ministers dropped the excuses and fessed up their role in Solid Energy’s collapse. They’ve let Kiwis down and their sad attempt at a defence is an insult to all New Zealanders,” said David Shearer.


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