Street protest against asset sales

A demonstration against asset sales to be held in Nelson's Trafalgar St on Saturday is aimed at keeping pressure on the Government, says Aotearoa is Not for Sale Nelson spokeswoman Rachel Boyack.

The action is the second time the campaign has taken to the streets in Nelson, with a march and rally in April attracting more than 500 Nelsonians.

Since then the campaigners have been gathering signatures on a nationwide petition calling for a citizens-initiated referendum on asset sales.

Ms Boyack said this Saturday's symbolic action would be to represent the more than 5000 Nelsonians who have signed the petition.

The Nelson demonstration involving skits will be held from 11am at the Trafalgar St entrance to the Nelson market. It is timed to be part of a day of action in 14 centres including marches planned in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

It comes after the Government passed legislation by one vote two weeks ago to allow the asset sales.

The Mixed Ownership Model Act allows the Government to sell up to 49 per cent of Mighty River Power, Genesis, Meridian and Solid Energy. The Government also plans to reduce its shareholding of Air New Zealand but does not require legislation to do so.

Mighty River Power is first off the block, possibly starting in September.

However, the controversy over the asset sales has further escalated with Maori opposition through the Maori Council's claim over the issue of water rights being fast-tracked this week at a Waitangi Tribunal hearing.

Prime Minister John Key has inflamed the issue by saying the Government might choose to ignore the tribunal's findings.

Ms Boyack said today a groundswell of opposition to the asset sales was building.

"Key's comments are arrogant in the same way as he said it had a mandate from the election for the asset sales and the same way it is ignoring opposition and the petition.

"Party votes show more people voted for parties opposed to asset sales than in favour. There will be a referendum and there will be more action."

She said it had been easy to collect signatures in Nelson and expected to have close to 6000 by the weekend.

The campaign has been endorsed by several political parties and organisations, including the Labour Party, Green Party, NZ First, Mana Party, Greenpeace, New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Service and Food Workers Union, Maritime Union and Actors' Equity.