Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Asset sales hikoi reaches Parliament

File photo / Doug Sherring
File photo / Doug Sherring

An anti-asset sales hikoi set their sights on Act leader John Banks, United Future leader Peter Dunne and the Maori Party as the protest came to a climax on Parliament steps this afternoon.

A crowd of 5000 filled the Parliamentary lawn in the latest stop of a North Island march against the partial sales of state-owned energy companies.

One of the Aotearoa Not for Sale Hikoi leaders, Mike Smith, addressed a crowd carrying Maori sovereignty flags and signs saying "Asset Sales: Economic Treason".

He told the hikoi that the state assets had been built up by generations of New Zealanders and their tax contributions.

Prime Minister John Key had no mandate for the mixed ownership model, he said.

"Mr Key seems to think he's the chairman of New Zealand Incorporated," Mr White said. "But he needs to know its not his property to sell."

Opposition politicians focussed on minority party members, whose single voice could be crucial in a tight vote on asset sales.

Green Party leader Russel Norman said the closeness of the vote meant the hikoi was not in vain.

"This is part of putting pressure on the Government. It is the thinnest majority possible to go ahead with privatisation. It's only 61 votes out of 121.

We need to keep the pressure up on this Government to knock out at least one of those votes. We have some people who are very unstable in that majority, such as John Banks, not to mention Peter Dunne, and its crucial that we keep the pressure on them."

NZ First leader Winston Peters, who made asset sales the focus of his address to Grey Power earlier in the week, said the partial privatisation was an act of "treason and betrayal".

He also challenged the Maori Party, asking why it had not joined the march across the North Island.

Mr Dunne did not attend the protest, but tweeted earlier in the day: "Hikoi on asset sales marches to Parliament on a day when it is not sitting - says a lot about the brains behind them."

A lone pro-National protester, carrying a sign which read "John Key is the best Prime Minister we have ever had", was moved to the fringe of the protest by police "for his own safety".

- NZ Herald

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