15 Dec 2013

Key issues asset sales challenge

9:33 am on 15 December 2013

Prime Minister John Key is challenging Labour and the Greens to promise now to buy back shares in four state-owned power companies and Air New Zealand, if they win the next election.

Preliminary results of the citizens-initiated referendum show a third of those who took part support the Government selling up to 49% of the assets.

John Key.

John Key. Photo: RNZ

Mr Key said if Labour and the Greens believe that has given them a mandate, they should make their intentions clear.

"If they believe that they got a mandate through this, they should absolutely promise - no weasel words - (to) borrow the money, buy it back. They won't."

Mr Key said the National-led government had a mandate from the general election in 2011 and it would be misleading to the public to not follow through.

The Government has sold shares in Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy and Air New Zealand and Mr Key said it would continue with plans to float Genesis Energy.

Labour leader David Cunliffe said if Labour won the election next year, some assets could be bought back if it was financially viable to do so.

He said the Prime Minister was ignoring the public which had decisively condemned him for the sales.

More than 1.3 million people - almost 44% of eligible voters - took part in the citizens-initiated referendum. Of those who voted 32.5% voted for the asset sales and 67.2% against.