Asset sales protest interrupts Key's lunch

By anne-marie.emerson@wanganuichronicle.co.nz, Anne-Marie Emerson

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Prime Minister John Key was confronted by a small but noisy group of protesters as he arrived at a Wanganui eatery for lunch yesterday.

About 12 people, protesting against the partial sale of state-owned assets, chanted loudly as Mr Key arrived at Element Cafe accompanied by Whanganui MP Chester Borrows.

Protester John Milnes said Mr Key had smiled and waved at the group but did not say anything as he went into into the cafe.

"Chester didn't look very happy, though," Mr Milnes said.

There was a heavy police presence in the area during the protest, and many people in shops and cafes were drawn out on to Victoria Ave by the noise of the protest.

The protesters won a small battle with the police over whether the door to Element Cafe should remain open or shut, when an Element staff member came out and propped the door open.

Earlier in the day around 40 people gathered at Majestic Square to protest the Government's asset sale plans. The group also opposed deep sea oil drilling and fracking in New Zealand waters.

Brandishing banners and signs, the protesters chanted and sang, while passing motorists tooted their horns and waved.

Protest organiser Kathryn Goodman, from Stop Asset Sales Coalition Whanganui, said the protesters wanted Mr Key to hear their message loud and clear.

"Selling off our assets is short-term thinking. As a country we need to think well into the future, and selling assets will not benefit New Zealand in the long term."

Miss Goodman noted that most of the motorists driving down Victoria Ave acknowledged the protest, which she said indicated people's support.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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