The Mixed Ownership Model Bill which paves the way for the partial sell off of some state owned enterprises has been sent to select committee for consideration.
State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said the sale of shares in the SOEs would allow the Government to invest in other areas, while giving New Zealanders the chance to invest in locally owned assets.
National had thought “long and hard’’ about going ahead with the policy as it new asset sales were unpopular after earlier experiences, but was convinced it was a balanced approach that would prove them right.
It was estimated the Government would raise five to seven billion dollars and this would mean less borrowing.
Labour’s Deputy Leader Grant Robertson said the asset sales showed National had no ideas on how to deal with the economic problems facing New Zealand.
The sales were a “sugar shot’’ that would see the assets owned by all New Zealanders and built up over generations sold into the hands of the wealthy.
Power prices would rise and the shares would eventually all drift overseas, he said.
New Zealanders were opposed to asset sales and this would be shown as a petition to force a referendum on the issue was circulated.
Green Co-leader Russel Norman said the Government was proposing to “steal’’ the assets owned by 100 percent of New Zealanders and leave them in the hands of a few percent.
After heated debate the bill completed its first reading by 61 to 60 with National, ACT and United Future supporting.
The bill is to be reported back from the Finance and Expenditure Committee by July 16.
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