Sell. Sell. Sell.

Headline? ? John Key saying the Referendum was a waste of time, proves there is no mandate for change, and was just a political stunt.

Hands up who’s surprised?

Prime Minister John Key says the contentious partial asset sales programme will continue despite the provisional results of the share offer referendum.

More than 1.3 million New Zealanders cast votes in the non-binding citizens initiated referendum; with the preliminary result released on Friday night showing 67.2 per cent did not support the Government’s partial sell-off of Air New Zealand, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power and Meridian Energy.

Only 32.5 per cent of those who cast a vote backed the share floats.

All-up, just 44 per cent of eligible voters took part in the referendum.

Key, speaking this afternoon at the former Hobsonville Airbase north-west of Auckland, described the referendum as a “publicity stunt” which had cost the tax-payer up to $9m.

“Around about a quarter of New Zealanders voted against asset sales,” Key said. ?

“Three-quarters of eligible New Zealanders said no they either weren’t going to engage or voted for them.

“Three in four New Zealanders said no we don’t agree with Labour and the Greens. I think it will be a dismal failure from their point of view.”

Key said the referendum was not needed, claiming the Government had been re-elected at the 2011 General Election partially on the basis of the pending shares sell-off.

The results of the postal referendum was bad news for the opposition, he said.

He added Labour leader David Cunnliffe [SIC] was “a bit deluded” in claiming the referendum was a victory for the anti-asset sales movement.

“I genuinely think Labour and the Greens will be very disappointed,” Key said.

What a remarkably government-positive article that is. ?Want to guess who published it?

No, not the Herald. ?*snigger* ?Neil Reid at Fairfax:

The partial sale of Genesis Energy is set down for the first half of 2014.

Finance Minister Bill English described the share sales programme as an important part of the Government’s economic plan aimed to deliver more jobs, control debt and give New Zealanders one of the higher growth rates among developed countries.

“It has so far generated $4b which we are investing in new public assets like schools and hospitals without borrowing from foreign lenders,” English said.

“Quite simply, we now have $4b less debt than we would have otherwise have had. If Labour and the Greens would rather have full State control of the companies and higher public debt, they should promise to borrow $4b to buy back Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy and Air New Zealand.”

Watch National try and manoeuvre?both The Green Taliban and Labour into a corner about this. ?Let them put their our?someone else’s money where their mouths are. ?Are they going to commit to fully own these companies while paying interest on borrowed money to do so?