At the Labour Party congress today, Helen Clark predicted that asset sales would be a key election issue and says the Government was right to veto the Auckland Airport share bid.
“The National Party and ACT have made it plain where they stand – ‘sell it off’, they cry.
This is a defining issue. In Labour we support special scrutiny being applied to bids for foreign ownership of strategic infrastructure on sensitive land.”
Yesterday John Key, with the luxury of time to prepare after being put on the spot back in March, came out strongly saying the Government’s action shows it always intended to veto the offer and overseas investors won’t like it.
However, I suspect many people would agree with Michael Cullen when he pointed out that New Zealand has had bad experiences selling assets offshore – such as Telecom, the rail network and Air New Zealand. He says it was up to the Canadian company to prove the offer was in the national interests of New Zealand.
Given the Colmar Brunton poll last month found that 48% of people said assets should be kept and 45% backed a partial sale it will be interesting to see how the final decision is received over the next few weeks.
NB – for those interested in the full ins and outs of the arguments the associated papers are up on the web here.