Labour has been chipping away at National’s case for asset sales for months. The hole in the budget has been exposed, the ‘mum and dad investors’ myth has been quashed, the efficiency argument has been broken. Now, Bill English has been caught out lying to Parliament over advice that shares would go to foreign buyers. He’ll be forced to resign.
The case is pretty clear cut.
On Thursday, Trevor Mallard asked Bill English in Parliament:
Hon Trevor Mallard: What is the official advice that he has received on whether foreign investment would be essential to his plans for privatising assets?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: We have not received any advice that it is essential
Yet, English had received and read a report, which was released with the budget documents, that says:
“significant participation by foreign investors will be essential”
Open and shut. English misled Parliament. You cannot do that. It undermines our democracy if a minister can pervert the one opportunity to hold him to account by blatantly lying to Parliament and the public.
So, what needs to happen now? You might recall that John Key came to office promising higher standards than the previous Labour government. You might also remember that David Benson-Pope survived a lot of criticism but when he misled Parliament (and herself), Helen Clark sacked him. I think we should all expect that standard or better to be upheld in this case.