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Thousands join Auckland asset sale protest

Saturday 28 Apr 2012 4:39 p.m.

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By Elizabeth Puranam

Thousands of people have marched up Auckland’s Queen Street this afternoon to protest asset sales.

The demonstration was organised by a group called Aotearoa is Not for Sale, but it also received wide support from political parties, unions and the public.

“We've got the power” was the catch-cry in a protest against Government plans to sell power companies and other state-owned assets.

In the biggest turnout since the 2010 anti-mining protest, thousands rallied in downtown Auckland before marching their way up Queen Street.

Joining them was a hikoi that's making its way from Cape Reinga to Wellington.

“A couple of years ago when they wanted to mine the conservation land and 50,000 hit the streets, they dropped it like a hot potato,” says hikoi organiser Mike Smith. “So this kind of democratic process can work. It can be an effective measure to halt what we consider to be negative Government policies.”

The protest was publicised on Facebook over the last few weeks.

“This was arranged at very short notice and we've got thousands of people here, which shows the degree to which people are worried about what's going on here,” says Labour leader David Shearer.

The protest has been endorsed by Labour, the Green Party, Mana, the Council of Trade Unions and the Maritime Union, just to name a few.

“I think right around the country we've got general agreement that our assets should not be sold,” says Hone Harawira. “I'm just one of them.”

There were people from all walks of life, but they all had one concern.

The Clerk of the House just yesterday approved the wording of a question for a petition on asset sales.

It reads, “Do you support the Government selling up to 49 percent of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?”

The group Keep Our Assets now has one year to collect 310,000 signatures to force a citizens-initiated referendum on asset sales.

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