Voters have given the Government's flagship asset sales
policy an emphatic thumbs down, ratcheting up pressure for the
sale of Genesis Energy - the remaining asset in the programme -
to be shelved.
The citizens initiated referendum (CIR) on asset sales has
closed and as expected, most of those who voted opposed the
partial sale of state owned power companies and Air New
In the preliminary result, released tonight, 67.2 per cent of
those who voted said they did not support the Government
selling up to 49 per cent of Meridian Energy, Mighty River
Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand.
A total of 32.5 per cent said they did support the policy.
There were a total of 1,332,340 valid votes cast.
The asset sales CIR has come as the partial assets sales
programme is almost over, with Genesis the only remaining
company earmarked for partial sale yet to go on the block.
While the referendum is non-binding, Opposition parties hoped
a vote against the Government on the issue would persuade it
not to proceed with the Genesis sale, which is scheduled for
the first few months of next year.
Prime Minister John Key has indicated his Government will
take little notice of the result of the referendum,
describing it as political stunt by Labour and the Greens
which has cost the taxpayer $9 million.
Mr Key has said the result would be "interesting" if it
showed voters opposed the asset sales programme totalled more
than a million - the number of votes National got at the last
election which was largely fought on the issue.
Mr Key and Mr English have said in recent weeks that the
Genesis sale remains on track in spite of market chatter that
the sale is now unlikely to go proceed as planned.