Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

No full parliamentary inquiry into Solid Energy

Photo / File
Photo / File

Labour will push for an inquiry into Solid Energy's near failure by the auditor-general, state owned enterprises spokesman Clayton Cosgrove says.

Mr Cosgrove's request for a select committee inquiry into the state-owned coal company's near collapse was voted down this morning by National MPs on the commerce committee.

However Mr Cosgrove told the Herald Labour would write to the auditor-general seeking an inquiry because it believed that after only three hours of parliamentary hearings into the company's problems, important information was still to be revealed.

Mr Cosgrove said he was aware of "other matters'' regarding the company's problems that had yet to be disclosed.

He said Labour had pushed for a select committee hearing so particular individuals would be able to offer important information with parliamentary protection.

Solid Energy's former chief executive Don Elder and former chairman John Palmer appeared before the committee last week.

They said the company's problems were the result of high debt levels resulting from big investments in its coal mines in conjunction with a "perfect storm'' of falling coal prices last year.

Treasury is expected to release a series of documents detailing the company's recent activities and interactions with ministers in the next day or so.

Green Party energy spokesman Gareth Hughes said the Government was shutting down parliamentary scrutiny of Solid Energy.

"The financial meltdown at Solid Energy is deeply embarrassing to the Government and ministers because it highlights their lack of oversight and flawed shareholder strategy.''

Parliament needed to know what went wrong at Solid Energy so mistakes could be avoided in the future.

"That will be harder to do now that the select committee cannot investigate the issue,'' he said.

- NZ Herald

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