No Asset Sales

State asset sales have been cruel to the New Zealand economy. Short term gain has been followed by long term pain. In the 1980s and 90s Labour and National sold assets such as Telecom, Bank of New Zealand, New Zealand Rail, State Insurance, Government Print for $19.1 billion.

None of these assets was sold at its true commercial value. Telecom was sold to overseas interests for $4.25 billion in 1990. Since then it has made distributions to shareholders in the form of dividends and capital repayments of about $15 billion!

The National led coalition government is repeating the mistake of selling assets and this time the electricity generation system is going on the block. There are grave fears that our power stations, our hydro lakes, rivers and waterways will end up in foreign control.

Where we've got to
  • New Zealand First has campaigned against state asset sales for many years and will continue to do so.
  • We have made all parties aware of the folly of selling state assets.
  • We have increased public awareness of the issue.
What's next
  • New Zealand First wants the government to abandon its asset sales programme.
  • We want public pressure on the government during every step it takes towards these sales.


Between 1988 and 1999 Labour and National made a mess of selling assets owned by the Crown on behalf of New Zealanders. The controversial sales enriched a few local business people and foreign investors. Economic studies have proved that ownership of assets is more profitable than disposing of them. The Telecom experience has shown that any monopolistic industry must be kept firmly in government hands. Extortionate profits have gone offshore as Telecom enjoyed a privileged position at the expense of New Zealand subscribers.

Why you should care

State asset sales will be disastrous for electricity consumers. At present the market is distorted with domestic consumers subsidising commercial and industrial users. Privatising power generating and retail companies will make this situation worse as investors seek to push up profits. New Zealand First firmly believes that any profits should stay at home to benefit the local economy.