The National Government's decision to waive the ten percent cap on shareholdings in Chorus for an Australian investment company proves it can't be trusted to limit foreign ownership in its planned asset sales programme, Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman said today.
The Government has chosen to allow Australian-controlled AMP Capital Investors New Zealand to increase its holding in Chorus from just under ten percent to as much as fifteen percent. The ten percent limit on ownership of Chorus by individual investors mirrors the limit in the Mixed Ownership Model Bill that the Government is passing to allow the sale of shares in Genesis, Meridian, Mighty River, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand. Both limits are intended to curtail foreign ownership of strategic infrastructure.
"National has sought to placate the massive public opposition to asset sales by saying that foreign companies would not be able to buy more than ten percent each of them. It has now shown that it would bypass such restrictions at will," said Dr Norman
"Coupled with gaping loopholes that allow non-voting shares and subsidiaries to be sold off, this shows that there would be no effective restrictions on foreign companies buying up our energy companies.
"Kiwis know we cannot believe National's hollow promise to limit foreign ownership.
"If National sells half of our assets under the Mixed Ownership Model Bill, it would be the beginning of a slippery slope that would eventually see our energy companies sold off to foreign companies entirely.
"Thanks to National, we would lose not only the profits from those companies, but also sovereign control over our electricity system.
"The Green Party plan for a sustainable economy, Green Jobs, is built around public ownership of key infrastructure like our energy companies.
"Our energy companies could become major exporters of renewable electricity products, but only if they remain in New Zealand public ownership" said Dr Norman.
The Green Party's alternative plan for our economy: http://www.greens.org.nz/greenjobs
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