In Parliament as the election loomed John Key and Bill English frequently told us that “Mum and Dad investors would be at the front of the queue” and that 85-90% of the assets would stay in New Zealand hands. I can remember asking (well, shouting) as to how they could guarantee this, what were they going to do to make it happen.
It seems now that despite saying, as Tony Ryall did that “all the advice” is that this can be done, they did not actually ask their economic advisors in Treasury. Instead they relied on the advice of Ministerial advisors and some mates in the financial sector.
Now we only know this morsel of information because the Ombudsmen forced the National Party to release it. TVNZ has been fighting since August to get this information released. What the Ombudsmen has not done is force them to release the five briefing papers that they do have around the planned asset sales.
There are always judgement calls about releasing this kind of information. But the public interest in the days leading up to the election should dictate that the information is released. John Key has said he will take the election result as a mandate to sell our assets. Asset sales are the defining issue of this election, and the public of New Zealand deserve to have all the information when they make their decision.