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National will wait for election for decision on selling SOEs

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

Wellington, May 24 NZPA - National will have a clear position on whether it will sell off state-owned assets but needs to "kick the tyres" around first, Prime Minister John Key says.

The topic of selling state assets has been in the limelight since Finance Minister Bill English said on Friday the Government would "get to grips" with its position on state asset sales in the next eight months.

Answering questions from the audience at a post-budget function in Christchurch, Mr English said Kiwibank had reached a size where it needed either a government guarantee or "an awful lot of capital" and suggested there would be strong demand for shares in it.

National promised before the last election it wouldn't sell or partially sell any SOEs during its first term in office, but it had not made any commitments beyond that.

Mr Key said National would go into the election next year with a "clear position" but could not say what it was because it had not been discussed internally.

"(Mr English) was simply saying Kiwibank is doing well, it wants to expand, there are plenty of options of how it can expand," he told NewstalkZB this morning.

The party would need to "do some work, kick the tyres, make a decision what our policy will be".

He did promise it would not be ambiguous.

"It'll either be a retention of the policy we have now, or clearly outline some change to that, but we've done no work on that."

Mr English made similar comments yesterday. He said the Government's current focus now was on better management of its $200 billion in assets.

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove told NZPA that despite claims to the contrary, the Government was readying some SOEs for sale, including Meridian Energy, he said.

"The agenda's quite clear -- Kiwibank is on the block."

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