sign up log in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

UnitedFuture's Peter Dunne calls for debate on privatisation limits; says Kiwibank, Radio NZ and water should never be sold off

UnitedFuture's Peter Dunne calls for debate on privatisation limits; says Kiwibank, Radio NZ and water should never be sold off

Peter Dunne wants a debate on future limits for what state-owned assets should be allowed to be sold off, saying Kiwibank, Radio New Zealand and water should be no-go areas.

The call from the UnitedFuture leader comes as the November 26 election quickly approaches, with National and Labour at loggerheads on the issue following National's plan to sell off up to 49% in four energy companies, and part of its stake in Air New Zealand, if it wins another term.

Dunne, who has served as Minister of Revenue for successive governments, said to this point there had been no proper debate on the issue other than National saying 'yes' and Labour saying 'no'.

“New Zealanders, I believe, are not definitively pro-asset sales, but under certain conditions, it is no longer the bogeyman issue that Labour would have you believe,” Dunne said in a speech to the Auckland Rotary Club.

United Future would support a government with a "reasonable centrist path," he said. That meant although he agreed to some assets being sold off, there were three absolute bottom lines Dunne would never agree to being sold.

“Kiwibank is in every sense now a national institution, whether you bank with it or not. And in a market full of Australian-owned banks, and an increasingly fraught and troubled globe, it is both a symbolic and practical statement of our economic sovereignty. Collectively, it is ours pure and simple. It must stay that way," Dunne said.

“Secondly, Radio New Zealand exists in an increasingly commercial media marketplace, and it is more important than ever to have a voice that does not bend to the dollar, to ratings, to external forces. Every nation needs its own voice and we need to afford that voice our collective protection," he said.

“Thirdly, and one that I feel particularly deeply about, is water. I do not intend to wait until it is on the asset sales agenda. I do not believe New Zealanders would ever – or should ever – accept a sell-off of the supply of the water, or any of the aspects around it."

Will he matter?

Dunne's comments come as minor parties position themselves for post-election coalition deals. UnitedFuture is not likely to get any list MPs into Parliament on Dunne's electorate coat tails, and if the leader himself loses in Ohariu-Belmont then the party would disappear from Parliament as it is polling well below 5%.

In August, Dunne told it was very unlikely UnitedFuture would go into coalition with Labour due to Labour's capital gains tax policy - a tax Dunne did not agree with. 

The first decade of Dunne’s political career was as a Labour MP between 1984 and 1994, before he left to become an independent, joining United Future a year later. Dunne has been Revenue Minister since 2005, firstly under Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark, and now under the John Key-led National government.

Despite those connections early in his career, it was a “different Labour” back then, Dunne said in August.

“The biggest problem we have [now] is the policy mix. We’ve always taken it from the point of view of, have we got policy compatibility with Labour or National, and if we have, well and good, if we haven’t, well you can’t do a deal,” he said.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


This is a serious question.

Given the evidence of the economic disaster that is befalling the US and Europe due to the calamity of Keynesian socialist economics, that is, governments not controlling their spending, why did Mr Dunne not back ACT's Spending Cap Bill (especially given his coalition partner, National, did support it to second reading)?

This Bill in itself went nowhere near far enough, only attempting to cap the 'growth' in spending to the inflation rate, when in actual fact we need to cut government spending from somewhere around 46% of GDP down to 2%, however, it was at least a sop to the right direction.

Therefore, what reasons did Mr Dunne have for not supporting a bill that sought to control the spending of the government. I think his refusal is irresponisble, and points to he would rather use the brute fist of his department (which is out of control) to squeeze more and more money out of the taxpayer, than he would like to contain the spending of his fellow ministers. (Or is he actually paving the way, despite his words here, to a coalition with the Labour Keynesians, especially Cunliffe?)


Can I have some of what you're smoking? A trip to unreality would be a blast!


It's pretty slim picking for anyone wanting good reasons.

Kiwibank is a national institution?

NZ Rail was an 'institution' but also a black hole for tax payers dollars for years.  Seems as if because it's been around it's an 'institution' and we must never sell anything that and 'institution' because, well it's been around a while.  The Monarchy was an institution in America until it wasn't.

We need a voice?

Radio exists in a marketplace that is commercial?  Commercial market places are the only kind worth having, without the commerce it's not really much of a market.  Doesn't need ratings means spending money on something no one uses and as for bending to external forces, does this suggest Mr Dunne wants his own propoganda machine?


The only one of the three that makes any sense is water.  Because as a natural resource it belongs in the national common.  But that's not to say I'm opposed to selling clean water to people who need it if we have spare capacity.


Well, given most of our electricity is generated using water beinging to the public, as he points out - then where does he stand on selling off the generation companies who have secure legal access to that water?



I have a horrible feeling Kiwibank is going to get very hard on the govts books soon  - ie needing too much capital . DFC anyone ?


Talking about minor parties with low release just in from ACT on its list:

In a joint press statement, ACT Party Leader Don Brash and President Chris Simmons today confirmed that all ACT candidates would move one place up the list to fill the position vacated by the Party’s retiring Parliamentary Leader John Boscawen, and that the number two spot would be filled by former Party President Catherine Isaac.

Dr Brash said he was extremely pleased with the calibre of the list and that Ms Isaac would be a great addition to it.

“Catherine is highly respected in the Party, and in business and political circles, and I very much look forward to working with her in the next Parliament,” Dr Brash said.

Mr Simmons said Ms Isaac had the unanimous support of the Party Board, as did Leader Don Brash and all the candidates.

“We’re all very pleased Catherine will be standing at number two. She brings a lot of Party experience and has had a long and successful business career. She will make an excellent MP,” Mr Simmons said.

Catherine Isaac, who was Party President between 2001 and 2006, and is currently Managing Director of a communications consultancy, said she felt very strongly that ACT had a critical role to play in the next Parliament. She said she wanted to help ensure the Party remains true to its core principles,which are all about a stronger, more flexible economy and higher standards of living for all.

“John Key is a capable and respected leader, who has seen New Zealand through some very difficult times and is generally taking the country in the right direction. But the big issue in this election is the economy. New Zealand is facing the worst economic outlook since 1984. The Government needs to go further and faster and take some tough decisions to safeguard the country and put it onto a path to genuine prosperity. There are a lot of people out there who would like to see the government do that.  

“That’s why it’s so important that ACT’s voice is heard loud and clear in Parliament and why Don Brash as a former Reserve Bank Governor with outstanding  economic credentials is the ideal leader for ACT at this critical time.

“I also see improving choice in education to better equip our young people for life as a vitally important area of focus, and as a former Welfare Working Group member I have a strong interest in welfare reform.

“But our key concern is the economy and that will be our strong focus going forward. The recent credit downgrades are a major concern and I think the Government will be counting itself lucky with many of the public quite understandably absorbed by the Rugby World Cup.”

Ms Isaac said she was very proud of what the ACT Party had achieved over its history and that it was important the Party stayed true to its roots and the vision of its founders.

“Many people have put a great deal of time, effort and resources into ACT over the years and we need to build on that legacy and secure its future  as a strong political force advancing freedom, choice and personal responsibility. I would like to help bring into Parliament a strong contingent of ACT MPs, including in particular the outstanding young people on the list who I see as ACT’s leaders for the future,” Ms Isaac said.


all the merry best Ms Isaac , especially managing DB vs JB !