[Sitting date: 27 June 2012. Volume:681;Page:3411. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
DAVID SHEARER (Leader of the Opposition) to the
Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister)
David Shearer: Does he stand by his statement when asked last night how to stop Kiwi mums and dads onselling their shares to foreign investors that “The answer to that question is you can’t or wouldn’t want to stop them.”; if so, why does he not think it is important to have Kiwis rather than foreigners owning shares?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes.
David Shearer: Given his statement “yes, we will lose the dividend flow, but the dividend flow is pretty equal to that borrowing cost …”, has he read the Treasury advice that shows that New Zealand will be worse off by selling assets by about $100 million in lost dividend flow, and does he think that is insignificant?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes.
David Shearer: What is the current 10-year bond rate to the nearest percent?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have not looked at it recently, but it would be in the order of about 4 or 5 percent.
David Shearer: When, if ever, did the New Zealand Government borrow at a rate of about 20 percent?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Under Labour, probably, and there would have been times when it could never borrow, because I have seen times when the bond market was closed to the New Zealand Government.
David Shearer: I wish to table a document stating that the current 10-year bond rate is actually 3.38 percent. This is from the Reserve Bank, dated yesterday.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
David Shearer: Is he aware that the number of Contact Energy shareholders has reduced from 225,000 to just 78,000 since its sale, and that now just 0.03 percent of shareholders—that is, about 20—own 75 percent of the shares; and why did he say last night that those retail investors who bought shares when it was sold, for the most part, held on to their shares?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have great news for the member. Fifty-one percent of all shares in the mixed-ownership model will be held by one investor, which is called the New Zealand Government, so it is a vastly different proposition. Secondly, the retail component involved people directly buying relatively small parcels, and there was some slight consolidation of the very small parcels some years on. For the purpose of the member’s education, let me read from Pattrick Smellie: “One of the least defensible criticisms of the Key Government’s partial privatisation plans have been regular references to Contact Energy as an example of a privatised company which lost control to foreigners. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The reality of the Contact share register is it remains possibly the most widely held share by domestic New Zealand investors, 11 years on from the float. In fact, Contact’s shareholders have shown a high degree of loyalty to the Company, to the extent that EME’s attempts to take 100% were roundly rebuffed in the early 2000s. What it shows is that many small-scale investors have piled into privatised companies …”—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I think the House has been quite patient in allowing a fairly lengthy answer.
David Shearer: Is this the same Pattrick Smellie who worked as a public relations consultant for Contact Energy?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not know that, but now, I think, he works for Fairfax, and that seems to be the source of the only decent question that the Leader of the Opposition could ever ask.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it the same Pattrick Smellie who worked for Roger Douglas—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member knows that is not a point of order, but I blame myself for allowing things to get to where they did. I let one answer go on for too long, and then I let the Prime Minister say too much in that last answer. So let us now call this one all, and we will move on.
Michael Woodhouse: Has he seen any reports on the merits or otherwise of a citizens initiated referendum on the mixed-ownership model?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Not directly in terms of that, but I have seen in terms of citizens initiated referenda the following comments. Grant Robertson, when he was asked whether they should be legally binding, said: “No because governments can’t take issues one at a time. You always have to balance the issues together. … We have a representative democracy—people can choose...”. Kevin Hague said, when he was asked whether they should be legally binding, “Almost all of the outcomes for citizens-initiated referenda in New Zealand have been hard to interpret because the questions were ‘loaded, confusing or misleading’ …”—
Mr SPEAKER: Order!