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Poll: 68 percent against Genesis sale

Tuesday 12 Nov 2013 5:20 p.m.

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Another proposed asset sale hit a bump today. A Waitangi Tribunal ruling said Maori had rights to the water that Genesis Energy uses.

But the Government will still go ahead with the sale, even though a 3 News-Reid research poll shows 68 percent of the public say it shouldn't.

Genesis Energy owns the Tongariro Power Development Scheme, but now the Waitangi Tribunal has ruled the waterways are "taonga", and Maori have proprietary rights.

So another day, another problem for asset sales.

Remember Mighty River Power underwhelmed – and so did Meridian. Yet despite it all John Key wants to go again and sell Genesis next year.

The public doesn't agree.

People were asked: "Should the Government go ahead with the sale of Genesis energy?" Sixty-eight percent said no, and just 25 percent said yes.

The final sale has split National voters – 43 percent of voters say 'no, don't sell Genesis', while 49 percent said yes.

Mr Key denies his determination to go ahead with the sale is fuelled by political pride.

"I actually think the programme is sound. But it always was going to be a programme that would have a degree of controversy about it," Mr Key says.

The latest controversy is the ruling on a cluster of iwi claims about Tongariro. It is non-binding - but the iwi now want Genesis to pay for the water it uses.

Finance Minister Bill English says the issue is "whether the company should pay for access to the water today that the iwi regard as owned by them".

"The Crown's position is clear - no one owns the water - and this won't have an impact on the Genesis sale."

And Mr English admitted the Government could end up back in court, but he wouldn't say whether he believed the report could give investors a fright.

The Government says this ruling is just another risk for investors - that can also be translated as another reason not to buy. But just like public opinion, it seems nothing can stop this sale.

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