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Solid Energy inquiry not needed - Young

Friday 15 Mar 2013 9:32 a.m.

By 3 News online staff

There are growing calls for a full Parliamentary inquiry into Solid Energy after its former bosses finally appeared before a select committee yesterday.

Former chief executive Don Elder and former chairman John Palmer resigned before it was revealed the state-owned enterprise is almost $400 million in debt.

Commerce select committee chair Jonathan Young told Firstline this morning they have a "very clear" picture of what went wrong – including a collapse in international coal prices and investments that failed to bring a return.

He isn't so sure a full inquiry will be needed.

"I think that there are multiple levels of inquiry taking place right now with Solid Energy – obviously with their financiers, they and the Government are looking at all of the issues," says Mr Young.

"In terms of a select committee inquiry, I am personally yet to be convinced that we are going to uncover anything new or different that wouldn't be uncovered."

Some on the committee are pushing for a full inquiry, especially after claims and counter-claims surrounding an alleged request for a $1 billion injection.

Prime Minister John Key says he turned down Solid Energy's request, but Mr Palmer yesterday said the request was never made.

Mr Young however says with "hours of questioning" from MPs in the House, and the transcripts from the select committee hearings, they probably have all they need to deliver a comprehensive report.

"What I want to do over the next week or so, particularly for the select committee's position and doing a financial review, is come together and bring this information together which we do have, and be able to present a comprehensive and robust report to Parliament," says Dr Young.

"What will an inquiry bring about? I'm not sure. I know that some members of the committee are very keen for this to happen, and we are having ongoing discussions in the committee about that."

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