Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

'Shonky' sales process means Labour leader signed up

More than 280,000 have pre-registered their interest in the Mighty River share float. Photo / Sarah Ivey
More than 280,000 have pre-registered their interest in the Mighty River share float. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Labour Leader David Shearer says the fact someone was able to pre-register for Mighty River shares in his name shows how "shonky" the sales process is.

After months of delays the Government's "mixed ownership model" or partial asset sales policy began in earnest last week with the opening of pre-registrations from individual New Zealanders who are interested in buying shares in Mighty River Power.

The Government has highlighted the speed at which people have pre-registered, with more than 280,000 now signed up. Meanwhile Prime Minister John Key has said there may be many bogus signatures on the Keep Our Assets petition which is seeking a referendum on the assets sale policy.

But Shearer this morning said that while he hadn't pre-registered, he had nevertheless received email notification of a registration in his name.

"It just shows how shonky this process actually is", he said.

'Who's dog and cat and next door neighbour is being signed up without them knowing?"

During the pre-registration for shares in the 2010 float of Queensland Rail, it was reported that some people were submitting pre registrations in the name of their pets.

The Government has pointed out that in the 1999 sale of Contact Energy shares, 225,000 of the 250,000 people who pre-registered went on to buy shares. But in the Queensland Rail sale, only 80,000 of those who pre-registered bought shares.

"If someone can sign me up with me knowing, then there's the opportunity for many others to be signed up as well. Who knows how many people are going to be on that register that are not actually bona fide?"

The Keep Our Assets coalition comprising of Labour, the Greens and Grey Power will later today present the petition to Parliament.

The Government has said that in the event there are sufficient signatures on the petition to force a referendum, it won't delay its asset sales process until that can take place.

But Shearer this morning that didn't mean the petition was a waste of time.

While the petition and referendum would be too late to prevent the sale of Mighty River, "the referendum will be before others are sold off and if we can give the Government real fright as to where public opinion is then we'll be able to save other assets."

- NZ Herald

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