Thousands of New Plymouth residents have signed a petition calling for a referendum on the Government's plan to partially sell state-owned assets.
Dr Stuart Bramhall, who is collecting signatures in the city on behalf of the Green Party, said her volunteers had collected about 3000 signatures.
“We probably have five or six people in New Plymouth collecting signatures, and a number of businesses have agreed to have a petition in their shops,” Dr Bramhall said.
The petition, which aims to force a citizens' initiated referendum on asset sales, has about 250,000 signatures but needs to reach 310,000 by next March.
The National-led Government is trying to pass legislation which would see up to 49 per cent of Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy, Genesis and Solid Energy sold to private investors.
The asset sales plan was put on hold until March next year after the Waitangi Tribunal looked into ways of recognising Maori water and property rights.
Dr Bramhall said although she has noticed growing interest in the issue some people were still unaware of the Government's proposal.
“Usually I find people are undecided because they don't know about it. They don't want to be politically involved and they don't want to be politically informed.”
She said the public stood to lose a lot if state assets were sold.
“If we lose this regular income we have from the assets, the Government will have three choices - to increase taxes, to cut services or to go deeper into debt.”
National MP Jonathan Young said the partial asset sales assets programme would help fund public services. “The alternative is to have to borrow money offshore. The funds from the sale of these assets, which represent 3 per cent of New Zealand's state-owned assets, will create $1 billion which will be invested into 21st century schools.”
He said consumers wouldn't notice a rise in electricity costs because competition between power companies would keep that in check.
Jimmy Hick is a Witt journalism student
- © Fairfax NZ News
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