NZ First disarray on asset buyback policy

NZ First has struggled to get attention in a volatile election campaign, but they attracted the wrong sort of attention today at Business NZ conference at Te Papa.

MP Richard Prosser caused a stir – he warned he would “set the cat among the pigeons” – with comments on a State buyback of power company assets, and ACT MP David Seymour lashed him for it.

NZH:  Act Party leader David Seymour blasts NZ First MP over Contact remarks

Prosser was part of a political panel at the Business NZ conference at Te Papa, and said his party would bring electricity assets back to a simple state-owned, state-controlled umbrella.

“That means if you have shares in Contact [Energy] – get rid of them now.”

A representative from Mercury Energy asked Prosser after the session how he proposed to fund such a buy-back of electricity companies, given it would cost at least $11 billion.

Prosser said that would be done over time, but NZ First’s stance was the institutions would be purchased back at the price they were sold for.

Seymour addressed that statement early in his own speech to the conference, saying it was an example of how reliable economic management could crash down in four weeks’ time.

“The idea that you would have somebody who pretends to hold the balance of power – to come and tell you that a stock trading at $5.85 is going to be nationalised at $3.10 and you better all sell it.

“Well, I realise in a role such as mine you are supposed to have a certain amount of decorum. But that makes me really angry – what a f***ing idiot.”

That met with approval from the audience, but Seymour then said something definitely lacking adequate decorum:

“That is someone who can barely manage his own diet and exercise regime.

“And he thinks he is going to be managing a ministerial post. And actually could be – we shouldn’t joke about it.”

Both Prosser and Seymour caused a stir.

Later Winston Peters tried to minimise the damage:

New Zealand First Policy on Power Companies

New Zealand First’s policy on power companies relates to our opposition to the sale of these state assets, as well over two thirds of New Zealanders were in 2013 when a referendum on the sale of state assets was held, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“Richard Prosser MP’s comment at a BusinessNZ panel in Wellington today can be described as a throwaway line that was not fully explained.

But it seemed like a prepared line at the start of Prosser’s speech – and he said that it was a repeat of what he had said in 2014.

Had he had the time, he would have explained that the buyback of power companies would be at an appropriate time in the future, that is, we would only be buying back shares when they became available.

“This was explained by Mr Peters later in the day at the same conference to a question from the floor.”

More from Peters in Winston Peters ticks off Prosser over ‘dump Contact shares’ comments

Peters initially said the policy was long established, but later stressed that NZ First would only take back ownership by buying shares in the market.

He had spoken to Prosser directly about the comments.

“We don’t believe in nationalisation,” Peters said.

“On that aspect he [Prosser] is just not accurate and I made it very clear to him.”

No one would be required to sell their shares at a price they were not happy with. NZ First would wait until the share price fell, Peters said.

“We think this cartel can’t go on and sooner or later when that is discovered, and with a whole lot of other things happening in energy, the price will come back,” Peter said.

“I made it clear at the time that we would pick the time in the market to enter it, it’s still our view.”

But NZ First policy seems to have a different clarity:

This doesn’t help NZ First’s business credibility.

NZH: Winston Peters hits back at Bill English: ‘Arrogance in the extreme’

In the PM Job Interview with a panel of NZME journalists this week English was asked about Peters’ possible influence post the election and said he “certainly wouldn’t want Mr Peters near monetary policy”.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has hit back at Prime Minister Bill English for saying he doesn’t want Peters near monetary policy – saying, “that’s what they think”.

Peters told business leaders today that such comments were “arrogance in the extreme”, and his party was the only one that realised the importance of exports to turn around New Zealand’s economy.

To compensate businesses for a pledged increase in the minimum wage to $20 per hour Peters has announced policy that would:

  • Cut company tax rates to 25% over three years, starting from April 1 2019
  • An export tax rate of 20% applied to export-generated income
  • Small and medium-sized businesses allowed 100% depreciation for business equipment worth up to $20,000 for each item

Sounds complicated.

Leave a comment


  1. Corky

     /  23rd August 2017

    Lets not forget Labour and the Greens previously had similar policies until they saw the light and backed away.

    Coalition talks ain’t going to be chinch.

    If National keeps its nose clean, it’s obvious the ball is going to be in the opposition court, right up until voting day. When you have the ball, the onus is on you not to make a mistake.

  2. Tipene

     /  23rd August 2017

    I hope Prosser isn’t being thrown under the proverbial bus on this one – he was simply repeating a summary of NZ First publically stated policy on the matter.

    Prosser probably could have left the Contact Energy comment out of the mix, and Seymour again shows his lack of class by making personal comments about another MP (Seymour had a go at Winston Peters a few weeks back, and got his arse handed to him in a sling in return).

    What is it with minor party MP’s bringing knives to gunfights?

    • You may have thought it a “lack of class”, but he only said what everybody that doesn’t want us to end up like Venezuela, thought.

      I’ve never heard anything more insane on all levels. Hope the elderly Peters acolytes heard it

  3. chrism56

     /  23rd August 2017

    As others have pointed out, Mr Prosser only stated what is actually NZ First policy. Tere was no misunderstanding. It has just been Winston getting a free ride from the media about how stupid some of his policies really are.

  4. Blazer

     /  23rd August 2017

    Power coys are at historic high P.E’s at this time.In the 25-30 plus band,when 16-17 is the norm.So Peters is probably right that a correction is due.


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