The "Keep Our Assets" protest moves along George St,
Dunedin, on Saturday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A protest aimed at protecting New Zealand for future
generations attracted about 1000 people in Dunedin on Saturday.
Organiser of the "Keep Our Assets" protest, Grey Power
president Jo Millar, said she was "absolutely over the moon"
to see so many people participating, particularly children.
"That's who we are doing it for," she said.
The organisation initiated the protest, attended by a range
of political parties and unions, because "we are wise old
owls and have learnt by our previous mistakes".
"We do not want you to have to put up with the mistakes that
are going to be made if these people sell our assets," she
told the crowd.
About 75,000 people had signed a petition calling for a
citizens-initiated referendum on the issue, which required
300,000 signatures to trigger.
"They say referendums are not binding. Well, this one is
going to be if he [John Key] wants to survive.
"We don't want to sell the assets. We are the majority," she
Protesters marched along George St to the Octagon carrying
banners reading "Don't let this donkey sell our assets";
"Touch my assets, your ass is on the line"; and "People's
power not privatised power".
Chants rang out, including "John Key, you've got mail,
Aotearoa's not for sale" and "Stop the thieves in time, asset
sales is a crime".
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei praised the crowd for
attending as it was "you that makes the difference", she
"You are the future for our children and it's by standing up
and making a stand now . . . that you will make our future
for our kids even better."
Labour MP David Parker said "people power is alive in New
Zealand", highlighting the turnaround on increases to school
class sizes, and told those gathered they could make a
difference because the assets were "not [the Government's] to
Private power companies charged $265 a year more than their
state-owned equivalents, so selling state-owned power
companies would lead to power price increases, he said.
"This is just economic lunacy. It increases inequality and
increases the Government deficit by $100 million per annum
... We've got to fight it."
New Zealand Nurses Organisation representative Glenda
Alexander agreed the sales did not make economic sense as
"mum and dad investors" the Government said would buy shares
in the companies were the same people struggling to pay their
power bills each month.
"What we are concerned about is we haven't been asked if we
want to sell our assets or not."