At the start of the year, John Key said that he wanted to have a mature debate on asset sales. Now, his Finance Minister and SOE Minister are refusing to front up to debate David Cunliffe on the issue. Instead, that was left to old man Brash on Q+A yesterday. Cunliffe made mincemeat of him. The Right still has no justification for flogging off profitable assets.
The video is here, and below’s part of the transcript:
PAUL The old bogey – asset sales – the sale of our state-owned enterprises. It’s going to be one of the big issues probably of this election. Prime Minister John Key says if National wins in November, they’ll put up for sale 49% of the shares in power companies Genesis, Meridian and Mighty River Power, coal miner Solid Energy and Air New Zealand. This is proving to be a very difficult sell. At the start of the year, the Prime Minister had this to say.
JOHN KEY I think New Zealand’s ready for that grown-up debate about whether we can afford all the things that we’re doing and how we can best fund our future.
PAUL Eight months on, sad to say, he’s not so keen to have that grown-up debate, because none of his people are coming on today. We asked State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall to front. He said no to an interview and no to a debate with David Cunliffe, and he has a rule against debating David Cunliffe, it seems. Finance Minister Bill English says National has spelled out its policy and he doesn’t see the need to debate the issue on asset sales, so the government is mum. They are, however, happy to come on if or when they figure out how to ensure Kiwi investors get first dibs on those shares. We’ve said, well, we’ll hold them to that. Today instead we’re delighted to have Dr Don Brash with us, the ACT leader, and the supporter of the asset sales. He joins us in Wellington. And Labour’s David Cunliffe, who doesn’t think they’re a good idea at all, with Guyon.
DAVID Well, there certainly is the emotional power it in. New Zealanders are very clear in what they think, and I can tell you that polling that lines asset sales up against our fair tax package says three to one, people prefer to keep their assets and pay down their debt, while some of Don Brash’s rich white old men who are enjoying their tax cuts are made to pay a capital gains tax, like they should’ve been as he said when he was the governor of the Reserve Bank.
DAVID Look, I really will insist on finishing this, because Don Brash is in no place to lecture the New Zealand public about populism. I did not give the Orewa speech; somebody else did. Now, Mr Brash knows very very well that New Zealanders care about long-term solutions. They know that selling off the family silver to pay for six months’ worth of government deficit and losing on the—
DON That’s nonsense, David. You know it.
DAVID It’s not rhetoric. I know that there is $300 million in dividends from those assets. I know that the government will pay around $350 million to the ticket-clippers who will be involved in the sale, and I know that New Zealanders want to see a real game plan that will feed the kids in South Auckland and grow our economy without flogging off the birthright that we are handing down to the next generation.