SOE sales likely deal breaker for Greens

02:28, Aug 24 2014

The Green Party has put asset sales at the centre of any post-election negotiations - but stopped short of ruling out a deal with National.

Co-leader Russel Norman today said National's plan to partially-sell four energy companies and cut its stake in Air New Zealand had become a "defining issue" this election.

He labelled the policy as "short-term" thinking and a "fatal attack" on the economy.

Norman said the Greens would make keeping the assets a top priority in any post-election deal.

"They are an essential part of our vision for a clean, green economy that works for everyone," he said.

The Greens have previously said they would prefer to work with Labour and it was "highly unlikely" they would give their support to National.


Norman reiterated the party's stance today. He said with assets sales on the table, it would be "extremely unlikely" to give confidence-and-supply to National, but failed to rule it out altogether.

"A strong party vote for the Greens will increase our mandate to campaign on this issue and stop the assets being sold," he said.

"The more Green MPs New Zealand has after Saturday the better chance our country has of keeping our assets in public hands."

Norman said National's arguments for asset sales were "weak" and expose their limited vision for New Zealand.

"National have come up with the most expensive way ever devised to pay for new infrastructure, selling assets earning 18 to 22 per cent per annum instead of raising debt that would cost 4 to 6 per cent."

He said new analysis showed National was planning to sell the asses at a time when they were likely to start returning higher dividends.

"In the past three years, Genesis, Meridian, Mighty River Power and Solid Energy have doubled their investment in new plant and equipment from $1.7 billion in 2006-2008 to $3.4 billion in 2009-2011.

"Now that the earning potential of our SOEs has been enhanced through this capital investment, the Crown can expect to see considerable growth in dividend streams from this point on."

Norman said National was repeating mistakes from the past - when Telecom was privatised, dividends streams tripled within six years.

He challenged Prime Minister John Key to instruct Treasury to release documents relating to its asset sales programme before the election.

It emerged yesterday the Ombudsman denied a request for information on asset sales, but revealed the Government had received no official advice from Treasury about a possible 10 per cent cap on shares.

"The public need to know what information the Government has on the issue," Norman said.

"We think this information ill reveal the weakness of the Government's asset sale proposals. Why else would they want to keep it secret?"

"If he refuses, then has something to hide," he said.