The Government is in the throes of wielding the axe on the entire Solid Energy board in disappointment over last month's aborted sale of the state-owned coal miner.

When asked about this the only comment from a spokesman for the Minister for State-owned Enterprises, Tony Ryall, was: "The Government changes the composition of the SOE boards regularly."

However, seldom, if ever, has the Government taken the drastic step of cleaning out a whole board room.

A statement is not expected to be made until replacements have been found for all six Solid Energy board members -- chairman David Stock, Jock Braithwaite, Graeme Hitch, Bruce McLean, Roger Stanich and Carol Todd.