Over the weekend I posted some of John Key’s earlier statements on asset sales and public sector restructuring, pointing out how much his current views and approach differ from what he promised people before he became Prime Minister.
Tonight TV3 have gone one better and unearthed video footage of him speaking to the PSA Conference back in September 2008. Not only does John Key rule out asset sales, he makes a compelling case against them.
“There’ll be no asset sales in the first term of a National government, and there may never be asset sales in the years ahead… Nor am I hell-bent on selling assets actually. I personally think it’s not the issue that the current economy faces. In the world of making the boat go faster, actually I don’t think selling off state assets is going to make the boat go faster.
Labour has been arguing all along that asset sales will not make us a richer country. We’ve been consistent. John Key and the National government have done a complete u-turn and have now placed asset sales at the centre of their economic strategy.
“The Crown’s dividend streams from the Meridians, the Mighty Rivers of the world is large, so on both motivations we don’t have a debt problem, they’re acting, I think, highly effectively as companies, and they’re making money. There is no motivation to sell assets.
Once again, Key is borrowing the line that Labour has been consistently arguing for over a decade. The SOEs are highly profitable. They make more money than we would save in debt repayment costs if we sold them. Also note Key arguing we don’t have a debt problem (Bill English also made similar comments both before and after the 08 election). Interesting how after 3 years of a National government debt seems to be the biggest issue we face…
“So there’s no agenda to sell assets.
This is perhaps the most damning quote. Although Key was careful before the 2008 election to qualify his no asset sales pledge with “during the first term” he gave New Zealanders the very clear impression that he wouldn’t be selling assets long-term either.
“What we are saying is we’re not going to cut jobs, we’re simply capping at 36,000.
That commitment didn’t even last a term. Now he’s promising even more job losses during National’s second term. Nothing about that in their manifesto for 2011.
“The second point is, no we’re not borrowing for tax cuts.
So if they’re not borrowing for tax cuts, and New Zealand didn’t have a debt problem when they took office, why are they now arguing we have a major debt problem and need to sell assets to fix it?
John Key has built his political career on telling people what they want to hear. Eventually that strategy always catches up with people, and it’s catching up with Key big-time.