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Poll shows asset sales unpopular

Tuesday 21 Feb 2012 6:02 p.m.

By Duncan Garner

A 3 News Reid Research poll shows New Zealanders remain opposed to the Government's planned asset sales.

Prime Minister John Key said a year ago he had work to do to convince the public of his policy - but his critics say tonight's poll shows he has failed.

The Government is selling 49 percent of the prime strategic assets owned by Kiwi taxpayers, including energy companies that pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year in dividends to the Government.

However, the public is not convinced, even with estimates that the sales could be worth $6 billion.

“Well it's not our best guess, I'm being honest,” Finance Minister Bill English said last week.

The poll asked 1000 voters whether they agreed with the partial privatisations.

The results showed 62 percent disagreed, 35 percent agreed and 3.5 percent were unsure.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was not surprised.

“They should stop kidding themselves they can explain this. That's silly politics.”

A year ago 60 percent disagreed with the sales and Mr Key said he would try to convince people otherwise.

“It does show you that we've got a job to do to make sure New Zealanders understand the merits of this programme.”

Mr Key was not available for interview today but State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall says it will take a couple more years for people to be convinced of the benefits.

“We always said it was going to be controversial but there are upsides - control debt, good savings opportunities helps thicken up New Zealand capital markets.”

Even National voters are not overly impressed with the plan - only 64 percent agree with asset sales and 32 percent disagree.

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