Election 2014

27 Nov 2011

Election paves way for partial privatisation of state assets

7:55 pm on 27 November 2011

The National Party's historic election result has paved the way for the partial privatisation of the country's state-owned energy companies.

National secured 48.06% of votes on Saturday which will give the party 60 seats in Parliament - the best result ever achieved under MMP.

It will now be able to form a government with support from ACT's Epsom MP John Banks and United Future leader Peter Dunne, and also intends reaching a deal with the Maori Party.

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National pledged that if re-elected, it would sell up to 49% stakes in Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Energy and Solid Energy, as well as part of its shareholding in Air New Zealand.

National's campaign chairman and MP Steven Joyce dismissed claims by some political parties that the new Government has no mandate to sell minority stakes in the companies.

"You get 48 percent of the popular vote, which I think is the first time since 1951 that it's got that high. You'd have to claim you have a bit of a mandate for the programme overall."

Mr Joyce says the mixed ownership model is just one element of the policy and people understood that it is part of the programme to keep debt under control and to help grow the economy.

But New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says National has no mandate to sell assets.

"Some people think that you can actually have your cake and eat it too. In fact, about 80 percent of New Zealand is against asset sales but, clearly, a substantial number of them went out and voted for National regardless.

"Well, you can't have wealth, you can't have your country not being subject to total dependence on foreign ownership and savings if you do that."

Mr Peters says he believes many voters will eventually regret the support they have given National.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff says the majority of New Zealanders remain opposed to asset sales, despite the National Party's win.

Mr Goff says Labour fought a hard campaign on issues it believes in, and will continue to fight against asset sales.

"The National Party has got a mandate for government, a very clear mandate - they haven't got a specific mandate to sell our assets", he says.

"Eighty percent of New Zealanders don't want that to happen and we will continue to represent that 80% as hard as we can".

However, National has the numbers in Parliament to be able to proceed with its partial privatisation programme.