Asset sales protests spark unlikely partnership

Protests against partial asset sales are coming from right across the social spectrum. Photo / Doug Sherring
Protests against partial asset sales are coming from right across the social spectrum. Photo / Doug Sherring

An unlikely partnership has formed to fight the Government's partial asset sales, with Grey Power and the New Zealand University Students Association launching a petition aimed at getting a referendum on the issue.

They need 300,000 signatures.

Any such referendum would be non-binding on the Government.

Association Vice-President Arena Williams said it was her generation that would have to mop up the consequences of the sales and they deserved a say on it.

"Disenfranchising a whole generation by making a decision on a really thin majority, is irresponsible I think. We're not in a financial position to owe these my generation.''

Grey Power President Roy Reid said his organisation had voted unanimously against the plans, concerned it will cause power prices to go up.

"Many elderly people go to bed to keep warm. That rot has to stop, selling our assets will just make the position so much worse.''

Labour leader David Shearer spent the morning collecting signatures at Wellington Railway Station and said the response was overwhelming.

"I have to say it's like shooting fish in a barrel, it is really easy to get signatures from people opposing this. The groundswell against asset sales is enormous.''

Supporters of the petition plan to be out in railway stations and public places over the next few months getting signatures.

The Green Party has crunched numbers it claims show asset sales have already cost the country billions.

Co-Leader Russel Norman has released a table he claimed showed exactly how much revenue New Zealand lost when the Bank of New Zealand, Telecom, and Contact energy were sold by previous governments.

He said the three SOEs were sold for seven billion dollars and since their sale have paid out 21 billion dollars in dividends.

Dr Norman said that was evidence asset sales are folly.

However his calculations did not account for what dividends may have been returned to the Government had the companies stayed in public ownership.

- Newstalk ZB

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