Any investor loyalty bonus scheme for shares in the four mixed-ownership model energy companies would be just for "mum and dad" retail investors, Prime Minister John Key says.
However Cabinet was still yet to decide whether to include a loyalty scheme for the initial public offering of up to half of MightyRiverPower shares, which will be sometime before the end of September.
"We are going to take some advice on what our options are. I haven't seen any of that advice yet at a detailed level. But I think we've given enough indications to show that we are keen on that, if we can afford it, and if it works," Key said on Newstalk ZB on Monday morning.
Any scheme would be applicable to retail mum and dad investors, not investment funds, "because they'll stay in there anyway, because they own a certain amount of the index."
"But I think it's a good thing for retail mum and dads to potentially give them more encouragement to buy the shares. You've got to remember that, if you look around New Zealand, a lot of people have never bought shares before," Key said.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman has claimed a loyalty scheme could cost the government up to NZ$400 million in bonus shares for the MightyRiverPower float (see video above). Key dismissed this figure in Parliament last week, saying any scheme would not cost that much.
The legislation to allow the partial sale - up to 49% - of MightyRiverPower, Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy and Solid Energy, is set to be passed by Parliament on Tuesday. The government is also set to sell down its three-quarter stake in Air New Zealand to no less than 51%.
All up, the government hopes to raise between five and seven billion dollars from the sales, which will go towards new capital spending like on school upgrades and irrigation schemes.
Poll shows two-thirds oppossed
Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by the Herald on Sunday showed nearly two-thirds of those polled were opposed to the share sales. However, if the sales did go ahead, 60% said they would want to buy shares in the companies.
On TVNZ's Breakfast programme on Monday morning, Key noted the poll also showed National's support above what it polled on election night.
“Labour’s entire [election] campaign, along with the Greens, was to stop the mixed-ownership model, and the government’s proposition was, look, this is a good thing to do – it will allow us to buy more assets," Key said.
“Those people who say, 'well don’t sell our assets,' well we’re actually buying other assets. That will allow us not to have debt, it will allow New Zealanders to have something to invest in," he said.
“My main point [about the poll] is that, I reckon there are about a third of people deeply opposed, and that’s very much the Labour-Greens traditional base. There’s about a third pretty much in favour – probably National’s core base. And the other third are opposed, but not vehemently opposed.”
Key also attacked the Green Party for using Parliamentary funds to pay for people to collect signatures for a referendum opposing the share sales.
“This is the same political party that told you they don’t have enough money to pay for [deaf MP] Mojo Mathers to operate properly in Parliament. [It] has enough money to go out there and collect signatures for a politically motivated referendum," Key said.
“There’s a degree of hypocrisy about that, isn’t there?”