Earlier today, Solid Energy Chair John Palmer advocated, in a presentation before the start of the NZX Annual Meeting in Wellington, the partial privatisation of Solid Energy:
“So I guess my prescription is to say that a partially listed model where you have access to the capital that you need, similar to the Air New Zealand model which I think is a good model, is a really important path for a company like Solid Energy.”
Mr Palmer thought there would be little political risk for the Government in its second term, were it to win one, in going down that track with a company such as Solid Energy.
“This can be, with the right sort of management and the right sort of capital, one of New Zealand’s most important companies. It should be,” he said.
Yes, that quote is from the Sydney Morning Herald. I can just imagine the executives at the foreign-owned mining giants like BHP Billiton drooling all over their shoes at the prospect.
Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee was quick to see the political risk, and slap down tread lightly on Palmer:
But Brownlee said any sale of state-owned assets would occur only if the Government was elected on that mandate.
”The government has made it very clear we not selling any assets until we go to New Zealand and say that’s our plan.”
What a hopeless response from Gerry!
Solid Energy is hard enough to control as a State Owned Enterprise. It is already wanting to start coal seam fires in the Waikato to convert coal into gas, with consequent pollution of both the air and the water table. It is also wanting to mine the dirtiest coal of them all, lignite, on a far greater scale in Southland.
Let Solid Energy loose on the sharemarket, especially given National’s proposed relaxation of Resource Management Act constraints, and who knows how much environmental damage Solid Energy will do.
We need a clearer response to the Solid Energy privatisation proposals, Gerry. Yes, or no?
And we want it now!