• Jenny Shipley
State Owned Enterprises

The Minister for State Owned Enterprises, Jenny Shipley, says the first 10 years of State Owned Enterprise operations has proved their value to the taxpayer.

The Coalition Government is committed to retaining the SOEs that deliver strategic services to New Zealanders under their ownership.

The Coalition Agreement lists the strategic assets that will not be sold by this government.

The establishment of 14 State Owned Enterprises on April 1 1987 marked the beginning of a process of getting government out of non-core business that has brought benefits for New Zealanders.

Those first 14 included nine former Government departments and five statutory trading corporations, such as Air New Zealand.

Over the years other SOEs have been created and 12 have been sold into private ownership generating 8.65 billion dollars, all of which has been devoted to paying off debt.

If that step had not been taken we would be spending more hard-earned dollars servicing debt rather than on social services.

The public has also gained in many ways from the sale of State Owned Enterprises in the past. There was no logical reason for the government to continue to own trading banks, hotels or commercial radio stations.

The Coalition Government does however see a need to retain an interest in a number of strategic areas, and has made that clear in the Coalition Agreement.

I am pleased to report that all the 13 SOEs we now hold are operating efficiently and returning good profits, which enables the government to put taxpayers money into the areas where it is most needed.

It has not been an easy transformation and I know it has been personally painful for many New Zealanders who found themselves, through no fault of their own, at the cutting edge of change.

But I would suggest that as we look back now, there are few who would argue for a return to the old days.

I acknowledge the foresight of Sir Roger Douglas as the architect and Richard Prebble as the builder of the SOE system.

I also acknowledge the valuable work done by the Ministers responsible for State Owned Enterprises over the years - Richard Prebble, Stan Rodger, Doug Kidd, Maurice McTigue, Wyatt Creech and Philip Burdon. They have been careful stewards of New Zealanders interests, Mrs Shipley concluded.