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Labour's power plan 'political posturing' – Govt

Monday 15 Apr 2013 6:02 p.m.

Labour's chosen the day Mighty River Power shares go on sale to promise that, if elected, it will lower the price of power, and that would make the shares less valuable.

The problem is Labour Party leader David Shearer is refusing to give details about how. So the Government has pounced, calling it empty political posturing.

It's a big day for the Government as Mighty River shares go on sale. There's even a fancy new ad to celebrate. But along with a small handful of protesters in Auckland, Labour is still trying to steal the show.

"We're looking at policies that will bring down the price of power," says Mr Shearer.

Bringing down the price of power will likely lower power company profits, which could mean lower returns for investors.

But it's a big policy move for Labour, which, if it wins the election, would likely mean tighter regulation of the electricity market. But it won't say how it will do it.

"I'm not going to talk about the policy at all," says Mr Shearer. "I'm not going to give an explanation of the policy. We are working...according to our own timetable."

Mr Shearer says he'll tell us more when the details have been finalised, and says he's mentioning it now as a warning to investors.

The Mighty River share offer document, which outlines all potential risks to investors, warned this could happen, saying changes to legislation or regulation "may adversely affect Mighty River Power".

Labour's proposal is just one thing for the 440,000 people who pre-registered to buy shares to consider, along with ongoing negotiations over the future of Tiwai Point and about 70 other listed risks.

The opportunistic announcement could backfire for Labour. It's aiming to win votes by promising cheaper power. But by doing it today, with no details whatsoever, leaves them vulnerable to attack.

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