Cunliffe quiet on assets

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 17:02 26/08/2014
MARK TAYLOR/Waikato Times

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe touched down in Rotorua to lend support to local candidate Tamati Coffey.

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Labour leader David Cunliffe has refused to confirm if his party is planning to buy back state-owned assets sold by National.

In a confusing exchange with reporters today, Cunliffe first said the party would "be saying more about that before the election." 

Asked to clarify if voters could expect the party to set out a position before polling day next month, he replied:  "No, I haven't said that."

But he later appeared to back-track, saying: "They will certainly know before they cast their vote."

The National-led Government sold shares in state-owned assets, including Air New Zealand, Meridian Energy and Mighty River Power. In a television interview last month, Cunliffe said his party would look buying them back on a "case-by-case" basis.

But that was before Treasury opened the Government's books. The pre-election economic and fiscal update revealed a surplus of $297m, much smaller than forecast.

This meant Labour had to revise its spending plans, trimming $300 million and cut six of seven upcoming commitments.

Cunliffe was in Rotorua today, campaigning with local candidate Tamati Coffey.  A scheduled policy launch turned out to be a re-announcement of its NZ Power energy plans.

Under the scheme, Labour plans to shake-up the market by buying bulk electricity from all generators and pass the savings on to New Zealanders. They also propose an investigation into pre-pay electricity practises, saying these are unfair.

Cunliffe acknowledged he was going over old ground. "Basically the design of the scheme is the same," he said. "We think the design is sound...this is a re-announcement of our previous policy and a recommitment to it because we think it is really important to bring down the cost of power."


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