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Opposition will be disappointed by referendum result

Opposition will be disappointed by referendum result

The Opposition will be disappointed by the provisional result of the share offer referendum in which less than 30 per cent of eligible voters turned out to oppose the Government’s share sales programme, Finance Minister Bill English says.

With a turnout of 44 per cent of eligible voters, 67 per cent voted to oppose the share sales and 32.5 per cent voted in favour of them.

“The result is not surprising,” says Mr English. “It is broadly consistent with results in public opinion polls which also maintain strong support for National five years after it was elected.

“The public understands that the Government’s economic programme is working and I am confident they support it. It is delivering more jobs, controlling debt and giving New Zealand one of the higher growth rates among developed countries.

“The share offer programme is just one part of the economic plan that is achieving these results. It has so far generated $4 billion which we are investing in new public assets like schools and hospitals without borrowing from foreign lenders.

“Quite simply, we now have $4 billion less debt than we would otherwise have had.

“If Labour and the Greens would rather have full State control of the companies and higher public debt, they should promise to borrow $4 billion to buy back Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy and Air New Zealand.

“If they do not then their referendum was nothing more than a costly stunt.

“National’s share offer programme was the most debated proposal of the last election campaign. Labour even declared the election to be a referendum on the topic. National campaigned on it, won the election and with that mandate has proceeded to implement the programme, exactly as promised.

“The asset sales programme will wrap up with the partial sale of Genesis Energy in the first half of 2014, subject to market conditions.

“The Government has remained true to its word, and the Opposition parties should too,” Mr English says.

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