Govt accused of ramming through asset sales

File photo / Hamilton News
File photo / Hamilton News

Labour and the Greens say the Government is ramming its unpopular asset sales legislation through the select committee process for political reasons.

The "mixed ownership model" bill which paves the way for the Government to sell up to 49 per cent of state owned power companies, Mighty River Power, Meridian and Genesis as well as coal miner Solid Energy and Air NZ was due to be reported back to Parliament by the finance and expenditure committee by July 16.

However Labour and the Greens say committee chairman Todd McClay told them last week he wanted the committee to finish its consideration of the bill six weeks early.

Following a committee meeting this morning Mr McClay confirmed he expected the bill to reported back to Parliament for its second reading next week.

Labour and the Greens were today crying foul saying the shortened process didn't give submitters enough time to voice their concerns and it prevented claims that private companies charged more for power than state owned enterprises from being verified by Treasury officials.

They also said Mr McClay didn't give them the opportunity to consult with their caucuses over their reports on the bill.

Labour's SOE spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said National's actions amounted to "an abuse of process" that was disrespectful to submitters.

"It breaks every democratic protocol, the National Party may as well have said to submitters we don't give a damn what you say, we're not here to listen we've already made up our minds, we're not even going to respectfully consider your view, it's a done deal."

Greens co-leader Russel Norman said the process had been "very undemocratic".

"It's been very rushed, there hasn't been proper consideration of the submissions or the concerns raised in the submissions. We've had inadequate information from Treasury because they haven't had enough time either."

Given the original July 16 reporting date, "it's not as if we were short of time".

"Obviously the Government's trying to rush it through for political reasons because it's a hot potato."

Mr McClay said July 16 was only the deadline, "the committee was able to get through its work before that time so we deliberated on it today".

He rejected the opposition claims it was a rushed process saying there had been eight meetings where 150 submissions were heard.

"This is a political issue Opposition parties for many many months have been expressing their position on this they're not in favour. I accept that but sooner or later as this is part of the Government's agenda to modernise to economy a decision had to be made and today was the day the committee chose to make that decision."

- NZ Herald

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