Labour hits road against partial asset sales

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 08:31 10/05/2012
COMMUTERS PETITIONED: Labour leader David Shearer collecting signatures at Wellington's railway station.
Craig Simcox

COMMUTERS PETITIONED: Labour leader David Shearer collecting signatures at Wellington's railway station.

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Labour leader David Shearer braved a chilly Wellington morning to collect signatures at the railway station, kicking off a nationwide drive to force a citizens-initiated referendum against the Government's partial asset sales programme.

The petition - which will need at least 310,000 signatures - is being promoted by Grey Power and is supported by the Council of Trade Unions, a coalition of community groups and opposition parties.

Officially launched at Turnbull House, the referendum would read: "Do you support the Government selling up to 49 per cent of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?"

The wording has been approved by the Clerk of the House.

If 310,000 signatures - 10 per cent of the voting population - are gathered within 12 months, a referendum will be held, but it won't be binding on the Government.

Shearer said the petition was important because it was one way people were able to voice their opposition to the partial sales.

"Very few people have said no to signing the petition."

Shearer acknowledged the Government wouldn't have to act on a potential referendum but said it sent a "strong signal".

Petition signer and Wellington commuter David Lamborn said selling assets hadn't worked in the past.

"There doesn't seem to be any good logical explanation for why they want to do it, it's just based on ideology.

"I would rather retain them for future benefit for all New Zealanders rather than just a few who can afford to buy shares."

Lamborn said he would not be buying shares.

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