SunLive         

The sale of New Zealand’s valuable assets in recent years has proved to be short-sighted and fundamentally flawed. The sales have created a raft of issues, which the Coalition Government is now having to address.

New Zealand First has a proud history of fighting against asset sales, fully aware of what the long-term repercussions are likely to be for the country. The overseas buyers are only concerned about profit, not the greater good of New Zealand.

The last National Government sold Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy and Genesis Energy. The most tangible outcome of this has been skyrocketing residential power prices, up around 50 per cent since 2000. New Zealand now has the unenviable reputation of being one of the most expensive countries in the world for electricity.

Ironically, it was only last week that National’s Jonathan Young asked Energy Minister Megan Woods at Question Time in the House why the power price on a given day last month was 67 per cent higher than a year ago. Seasonal spikes aside, Mr Young needs to be reminded that the situation is all of National’s making.

The Coalition Government has stepped up to relieve the pressure on consumers, with the Winter Energy Payment available to a million low-income New Zealanders struggling to meet the cost of winter power bills. But this is a stop-gap measure. We need to address the root cause of the problem and make longer term changes to the electricity industry which will benefit consumers.

New Zealand First campaigned on the need to hold a review into electricity pricing and negotiated for this during our coalition negotiations. We are currently awaiting the final report and remain committed to shaping a market which delivers fair and equitable prices to all power users.

Clayton Mitchell
New Zealand First MP