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Water rights debacle means Government must call off asset sales

Mr Key should do the right thing and cancel the asset sales before he costs New Zealand a fortune.

The Green Party is calling on the Key Government not to proceed with its asset sales programme in light of the debacle over water rights, Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman said today.

"Asset sales can't go ahead with so much uncertainty surrounding the future of water rights," said Dr Norman.

"Any investor with an ounce of sense is going to demand a hefty risk discount before investing in these companies with so much uncertainty swirling around their water rights.

"The taxpayer stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars on the sales price of these companies if Mr Key persists with his privatisation agenda under these circumstances.

"There was no economic rationale for asset sales before; now, the case for pushing ahead is even weaker.

"Asset sales have been mismanaged from the start. If the Prime Minister was determined to sell our assets against New Zealanders' will, he should at least have done his homework to make sure we get the best price. Issues such as water rights should have been resolved well in advance.

"But Mr Key's fixation on rushing through asset sales ahead of the coming referendum has seen him push ahead before resolving the issue of who owns the water that these companies rely on.

"The Prime Minister's mis-management risks a situation where our strategic energy assets are sold at a bargain-basement price.

"Mr Key should do the right thing and cancel the asset sales before he costs New Zealand a fortune.

"At the very least, the Government needs to take a step back, wait for the Waitangi Tribunal report, and listen to its findings in good faith before making any decision to sell our assets," said Dr Norman.

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