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Dunne warns the Government over asset sales

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Peter Dunne
Peter Dunne

Wellington, June 4 NZPA - United Future leader Peter Dunne is warning the Government to be careful about selling state-owned assets.

Mr Dunne, who is Revenue Minister, said today selling assets for "no more than ideological reasons" would arouse strong and widespread public opposition.

The Government promised not to sell or partially sell any state-owned assets during its first term, and it has said it will keep that commitment.

But it is going to review the policy, and says that if it changes voters will be told before the 2011 general election and National will campaign on it.

That hasn't stopped Labour and the Greens attacking the Government, particularly over Kiwibank which Prime Minister John Key said before the last election would never be sold.

"Simply selling assets on the vague premise that they would be better off in the private sector is not a good enough argument," Mr Dunne said.

"Equally, Kiwis are no longer in Labour's camp of `shock, horror, hysterics' at the very idea of some degree of asset sales."

Mr Dunne said the vast majority of New Zealanders thought privatisation went too far in the past, but they might now be more open to a proper discussion about some degree of private ownership -- New Zealand ownership -- of some assets.

"There is an argument that the capital base of some state-owned businesses needs to be expanded to enable them to remain competitive and to grow, and that the State is not in a position to fund this expansion," he said.

"I think New Zealanders are open to that argument -- but they will not tolerate open slather, and National needs to understand that."

Mr Dunne said that if the Government wanted to revisit its existing policy, it would need to be very specific about its plans, including the scope for options short of privatisation such as publicly listed debentures or limited share floats to raise the capital required.

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