New Zealand’s re-elected government plans asset sales and welfare reform

City A.M. Reporter
NEW Zealand’s re-elected centre-right government claimed a mandate yesterday to push on with up to $5bn (£2.4bn) worth of asset sales and welfare reforms and said it would quickly get down to forming a new administration.

The National Party, led by former foreign exchange dealer John Key, scored 48 per cent of the vote, increased its number of seats to 60 from 58 and gained the support of two small parties to guarantee a majority in the 121-seat parliament.

“It’s a pretty strong endorsement of where the Government sits, and we’re confident we'll be able to build the relationships needed to go ahead with the programme,” National’s campaign manager Steven Joyce told TVNZ.

National campaigned on promises to consolidate policies of the past three years and work towards economic growth by cutting debt, curbing spending, selling state assets and returning to a budget surplus by 2014/15.

National plans to sell minority stakes in state-owned power energy companies and further reduce the stake in Air New Zealand. Key has promised local small investors will have preference in share sales, with a 10 per cent cap likely on how much any single investor can hold.

It also plans to reform welfare and slow down the expansion of its carbon trading system.