10 Nov 2011

Slice of asset sale profits to go to irrigation - National

6:35 am on 10 November 2011

The National Party has earmarked more of the profits it expects to make under its partial asset sales programme - this time for irrigation.

National's leader John Key said at the party's campaign launch that $1 billion of the forecast $5 - $7 billion revenue from the partial sale would be set aside for modernising schools.

On Wednesday Mr Key announced that another $400 million would be used to create an investment company, in which the Crown would be a minority partner, to invest in irrigation schemes.

Mr Key said irrigation increases farm productivity and allows for more efficient water use.

He said a credible business case would have to be put up before money would be allocated from the fund.

National's policy is to sell up to 49% of four state-owned energy companies - Meridian, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy and Genesis - and to reduce the Government's majority shareholding in Air New Zealand.

Mr Key said he is comfortable allocating money that's not yet in the bank, as work on the asset sales programme would begin in earnest if National is re-elected.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff said the figures were "shonky" and asked how many times National can spend the asset sale money.