Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Shearer won't rule out buy back

Labour Party leader David Shearer. Photo / Supplied
Labour Party leader David Shearer. Photo / Supplied

Labour leader David Shearer won't rule out supporting Winston Peters' policy of buying back Mighty River Power shares at cost if they form the next Government.

Mr Peters said he would be happy for a Government of which he was a part to borrow or to use the superannuation fund to buy back shares at no more than cost.

Mr Peters said his NZ First party was renowned for going into negotiations "knowing what we want and getting what we want".

"Borrowing money would make economic sense because the returns would make that totally feasible, but there are other resources," he said.

"You've got the superannuation fund, KiwiSaver or a number of avenues or options you could exercise."

Mr Peters said it would make sense to borrow to buy back shares, and commentators who said it did not make sense were "unreconstructed economic morons".

Mr Shearer said, "We won't rule it out but we won't rule it in either." Labour would not be able to make any commitment on it before an election.

The prospectus, which is yet to be issued for the first SOE on the block, Mighty River Power, has to set out all the known risks of purchase but it is not yet clear if it will include the political risk of a buy-back.

The two leaders were part of an Opposition line-up of MPs at Parliament yesterday who received a petition to force a citizens-initiated referendum on partial sale of state assets.

After the Office of the Clerk of Parliament has checked the signatures, the Government will have a year to hold a non-binding referendum. It is also likely that at least two of the state-owned assets will have been partially floated by then.

Acting Prime Minister Bill English told Parliament the 290,000 people who had pre-registered for the float of Mighty River Power over a week compared favourably with the numbers who signed the petition "achieved in a year with paid parliamentary staff bailing up school children".

Greens co-leader Russel Norman said, "If the Prime Minister thinks that the 400,000 people who signed this petition are not real New Zealanders, then he is in the wrong country."

Referendum question

Do you support the Government selling up to 49 per cent of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?

- NZ Herald

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