New Zealanders will have their say on asset sales this year after a petition to force a referendum reached the 300,000 signatures needed, campaigners say.
Since April, a coalition including Grey Power, the Council of Trade Unions, the Green Party and Labour have been collecting signatures for the petition.
They need 10 per cent of all registered voters, or approximately 310,000 people, to sign to force a referendum.
Grey Power national president Roy Reid said the group had collected more than 340,000 signatures, allowing for a percentage of signatures that did not meet the requirements under the Citizen Initiated Referendum Act.
After checking the figures at the end of 2012, Mr Reid was confident they now had the numbers to push through the referendum.
The petition asked if people wanted a referendum on the question, "Do you support the Government selling up to 49 per cent of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?"
Mr Reid said the anti-asset-sales coalition would continue to collect signatures over the new few weeks, before the petition was presented to Parliament when it opened again in the last week of January.
"I hope it will demonstrate to the Government that they can't sell the government's assets - they belong to the people of New Zealand," he said.
"Selling them isn't the Government's right."
Mr Reid is absolutely wrong. It is the Government's "right" to do whatever the Government thinks is in New Zealand's best interests.
Unlike the Labour government of the 1980's, National campaigned strongly on the Mixed Ownership Model at the 2011 General Election. Labour and the Greens were just as strongly opposed. We all know how the election turned out.
Even if Labour and the Greens have got to their target of 300,000 signatures (which with the amount of parliamentary funding that has supported the campaign they most certainly should have), that still represents considerably less than half of the people who voted for those parties; 34.79%, to be precise. Add in the combined party votes of NZ First, the Mana Party and the Maori Party, and that percentage drops even further; to 28.14%.
On the other hand, 1,058,636 people gave their party vote to John Key's National Party, knowing that partial asset sales would happen. Add in the party votes for Act and United Future, and that tally gets close to 1.1 million; a clear majority.
The Left has made much of pre-election polls which showed what they called "overwhelming opposition" to asset sales. That, of course, was not borne out by the election result. John Key was able to form a government, and had the numbers to pass the Mixed Ownership Model legislation.
Despite wall-to-wall taxpayer funded propaganda from Labour and the Greens, despite nine months of collecting signatures and despite having hired people to collect signatures, paid out of the Greens' parliamentary funding, barely 10% of registered New Zealand electors have signed the petition calling for a referendum. Apply the maths to that; that means that 90% of New Zealanders HAVEN'T signed the petition for whatever reason. And even if half of all those who voted for the centre-Right parties opposed asset sales, as some on the Left have suggested, the number of signatures on the petition do not reflect that opposition.
Even if there is a referendum, it is merely symbolic. It is non-binding, and by the time that the petition is verified by Parliament, the sale of Mighty River Power shares will be underway (and probably over-subscribed), the sky will not have fallen and life will be proceeding as normal.
The silent majority has spoken here, rather than a noisy, politically motivated minority including the political parties who have misused the Citizen Initiated Referendum process. That makes a pleasant change from those who wish to relitigate the 2011 General Election result in a clamour of white noise.