We have an interesting mixed message (once again) from National on asset sales. David Carter is quoted in the NZ Farmers Weekly as saying:
However after the example was raised in Parliament today Mr Carter tried to defend himself, saying not only did never say it but that he had rung the paper to tell them so (sound familiar?). I’ll post the Hansard when it goes up later today. (see below for quote)
He need not be defensive. Mr Key is already on record saying Landcorp farms would be sold. Indeed National leader John Key told Rural News last year that he has concerns that Landcorp is not performing.
Key: “We think the economic returns are relatively low. We are not sure the State makes a terribly great farmer and don’t feel we need to own farms to do the research.” (Rural News, 25 June 2007)
Mr English confirmed last year that National will have a programme of the partial sell off of assets.
So was Mr Carter really misquoted? Or has he adopted his leader’s habit of saying what people wanted to hear?
Some may say “but Labour has sold farms too”. But there’s a difference between the odd sale (and purchase) in the pursuit of operational efficiency when you’re committed to overall ownership of the asset and a wholesale sell off.
Just to re-inforce the point, the Government took steps last year to place strict criteria around future sales.
Update: Here’s what Mr Carter said:
Hon David Carter: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. For the sake of clarity, I just point out that I rang Mr Alan Emerson, the author of that article. That is not a direct quote of mine, at all. (Hansard, 12 Mar 2008)