24 Nov 2011

Treasury advice on asset sales won't be released

6:34 pm on 24 November 2011

The Green Party has had its request to the Chief Ombudsman to allow the release of Treasury documents on proposed partial asset sales turned down.

The Office of the Ombudsmen has investigated complaints from the Green and Labour parties over the Treasury's decision to withold information on the proposed programme.

Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem on Thursday released a final ruling upholding the Government's decision not to release the documents.

In her decision, the Ms Wakem said she was concerned about the economic implications of releasing the advice at this time.

She said it could detrimentally affect investor participation in a sale and therefore the return to the Crown.

"Given that the estimated level of return is between $5 billion and $7 billion, the potential economic impact could be significant."

She also believed releasing the documents could inhibit officials from giving frank advice on the issue.


She concluded that public interest considerations did not outweigh the economic implications, but said she expected the advice would be released over time.

Greens' co-leader Russel Norman said the National Party is scrambling to prevent the release of this information.

"When you think that this is one of the central issues of this election campaign, that voters have to make a decision on in less than two days, it's outrageous that National won't let voters see the information that's been provided to the National Party."

Dr Norman says the only explanation for National refusing to release the advice is that it contradicts what the party has been saying in public.

If re-elected, National plans to proceed with the sale of up to 49% of state-owned energy companies Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power and Solid Energy and to reduce the Crown's shareholding in Air New Zealand.

Greens wrap up campaign

The Green Party wrapped up its campaign in central Auckland's Q Theatre on Thursday afternoon.

Former co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons travelled to Auckland for the event and said it had been wonderful watching the party's polling go steadily upward.

"That's the sort of dream run we've never had in my experience."

Ms Fitzsimons said the party had run a professional campaign and stuck to its three key issues, whatever the distractions.

Green Party candidate Gareth Hughes says he thinks the fact that the party dealt with controversy over a party member organising the defacing of National Party billboards decisively and was up front about it would have worked in the Green's favour.