Asset sales referendum falls short

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 14:49 07/05/2013
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Hang on - there was an asset sales referendum petition?

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A bid to have a citizens initiated referendum on the Government's asset sales programme has failed because it did not get enough signatures.

The petition, backed by the Greens, Labour and Grey Power, was 16,500 short of the required number of signatures, clerk Mary Harris said today.

The referendum sought to ask: 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?

To hold a citizens initiated referendum signatures must be gathered from 10 per cent of eligible electors - 308,753 signatures.

Harris said this bid had lapsed because it had not met that threshold.

"The government statistician is confident that the petition has not succeeded in meeting the threshold.

"It is short by approximately 16,500 valid signatures."

The petition had about 400,000 signatures when it was delivered to Parliament in March, but about 100,000 signatures were faulty or invalid.

Some of the people who signed the petition were not enrolled to vote, others signed more than once.

The promoters now have two months to collect the required signatures.

Keep Our Assets coalition spokesman Roy Reid, in whose name the petition was delivered to Parliament, said the group was committed to stopping asset sales.

"The Keep Our Assets coalition will continue to collect petition signatures to force a referendum on asset sales."

He said they were committed to finishing the job and would try to get the required signatures within two months.

"History shows that most petitions require a second go to get across the line."

Labour state owned enterprises spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove said Labour would redouble their efforts.

"We are confident that the large number of Kiwis opposed means that we can gather the necessary signatures in the next two months to ensure the petition succeeds."

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