Parliament has now been going for a fortnight and I have enjoyed being back in Wellington where I have a new role as chairman of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.
This committee occupies a significant place within Parliament as it takes a lead in the legislature’s role of approving all governmental taxation and spending and also in examining all government department spending plans and previous performance.
A central part of its job is to hold the government accountable for its public finance decisions. In addition, we hold public inquiries and hearings on reports by Treasury and the Reserve Bank so issues in regard to New Zealand’s financial and economic system get publically aired.
Back at home in Tauranga, it has also been eventful. A particular highlight was attending the Korean Grace Orchestra Concert last Saturday at Holy Trinity Tauranga. The orchestra was visiting from South Korea and performed a wide range of popular classical pieces by such renowned composers as Mozart and Beethoven. The event was hosted by Tauranga’s Korean community, which is growing in number and is a valued part of our city’s fabric.
Mixed ownership builds investment
There has been a lot in the news recently about the government’s mixed ownership model, so I thought I would set out our position on it all. National is working hard to lift national savings, give New Zealanders more investment opportunities, keep government debt under control and get a better mix of assets to deliver public services and help grow the economy.
That’s why we’re extending the mixed-ownership model – under which Air New Zealand currently operates – to four state-owned energy companies, while keeping a majority stake in each business.
Mixed ownership is a win-win for New Zealand. New Zealanders get to invest in big Kiwi companies. We would rather pay dividends to mum and dad investors than interest on higher debt to foreigners.
In addition, the government gets to free up $5 billion to $7 billion – about three per cent of its assets – over three to five years to buy new assets such as schools and hospitals, without having to borrow from overseas lenders.
To ensure the widest possible spread of shareholders, we’re setting a maximum shareholding cap – likely to be 10 per cent.
There is no doubt about these companies remaining overwhelmingly in New Zealand control. We expect that New Zealanders will own at least 85 to 90 per cent of these companies. That’s because the government will keep at least 51 per cent control on behalf of all of us.
New Zealanders, who will be at the front of the queue, have a strong appetite for shares. Kiwi investors have about $100 billion sitting in term deposits. And there are tens of billions of dollars invested by other New Zealand investors from KiwiSaver providers to the NZ Super Fund, ACC, Government Superannuation Fund and iwi.
National’s mixed-ownership model gives Kiwis an opportunity to invest in this country’s future, particularly with the shine having come off investment housing and finance companies.
Mixed ownership has been a good model for Air New Zealand. Under mixed ownership it’s been very innovative and has twice won Airline of the Year awards.
Mixed ownership is a smart policy that will strengthen the New Zealand economy. A stronger economy is the only way we will create jobs, boost incomes and provide the high-quality public services.