Hydros for prisons a bad deal for Kiwis

Thursday 9 June 2011, 2:12PM
By David Cunliffe

Finance Minister Bill English admitted at the Finance and Expenditure Committee today that National’s policy to privatise state assets could mean flogging off hydro dams to build new prisons, says Labour Finance spokesperson David Cunliffe.

“What a bleak, grey vision for New Zealand,” David Cunliffe said. “Selling something we already own to build infrastructure we might not even need if National got its priorities right.

“Mr English has called prisons a ‘moral and fiscal failure’. His admission today proves National has no vision for a better, stronger New Zealand in which Kiwis have good jobs, improved wages and the education and health services they deserve.”

Labour’s SOEs and Associate Finance spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove said National leader John Key today played down the possibility that actually selling the state-owned energy companies and a slice of Air New Zealand could cost up to $600 million.

“Recent Initial Public Offerings have cost up to 9 per cent of the sales price --- and Mr Key’s bland confidence that National will manage the process much more cheaply is hardly reassuring,” Clayton Cosgrove said.

“It was also revealing in the House today to learn more about Mr Key’s definition of Kiwi Mums and Dads. When I asked him if Kiwis would be able to afford to buy shares in the assets they already own, the best answer he could come up with is that they would be able to get a share through their KiwiSaver accounts.

“That shows how cynical he is,” Clayton Cosgrove said. “The truth is that the only people who will be able to afford to buy shares directly are his rich mates and foreign investors."

David Cunliffe said: “Bill English not only hasn’t got a plan, but he’s struggling to come up with a credible non-plan.

“His promise to return the Crown accounts to surplus by 2014-15 certainly isn’t the least bit credible as it relies on dodgy accounting of un-mandated asset sales, a billion dollars of unallocated cuts in the public service, revenue predictions which are $4 billion above IRD forecasts, and an economic growth track National has failed ever to come remotely near,” David Cunliffe said.

“As Mr English said at FEC today, forecasting is hard and ‘things change’. If it wasn’t our country he was talking about, you could almost laugh.”