Labour: Key promised no job cuts, asset sales in 2008 speech
Wednesday 14 Mar 2012 5:50 p.m.
By Political Editor Duncan Garner
Labour says a promise by John Key in 2008 shows he has misled the public over job cuts in the public service.
3 News has dug out never before seen footage of Mr Key promising “no job cuts” to the Public Service Association Conference back in 2008.
Since then 2,500 jobs have gone and hundreds more are being shed at Foreign Affairs, Defence and in the wider public sector.
In the same speech Mr Key also says selling assets like Mighty River Power will not make the economy better or the “boat go faster”.
Labour leader David Shearer says Mr Key has gone back on his word.
“I think he's broken a promise - that was a clear statement of what he wanted to do [and] now it's the opposite.”
At the time the core public service was 36,000. But National has cut jobs well below the cap it set.
About 2,500 jobs have gone in the last three years.
Mr Key will announce plans tomorrow for more job cuts and a merger of five ministries and departments - a Super Ministry, as revealed by 3 News on Monday.
It is a far cry from his black and white promise of 2008.
“It suited him to say it then,” says Mr Shearer. “He's obviously doing something completely different now [and has] really misled the public.”
Mr Key would not front to discuss claims of broken promises but the 2008 speech is revealing.
Also in the speech he says: “There's no agenda to sell assets.”
And National didn't in its first term, with Mr Key even suggesting they probably never would.
“There will be no asset sales in the first term - in fact there may never be asset sales in the year's ahead,” he said at the time.
Yet they campaigned on it last election and are currently selling 49 percent of Mighty River, Genesis, Meridian Energy and Solid Energy.
But in 2008 Mr Key spoke out strongly against selling those very companies on the block today.
This was his argument at the time:
“Now they're highly profitable companies, the Crown's dividend stream from Mighty River and Genesis are large so on both motivations we don't have a debt problem and they're acting highly effectively as companies. There is no motivation to sell assets; actually we're about creating assets not selling assets.”
Mr Shearer says Mr Key’s 2008 promises are “extraordinary”.
“We've been saying this all along and back in 2008 we find John Key agreeing with us. But now he's flogging them off.”
In fact in a response to a question that day Mr Key argued selling assets didn't make for a better economy.
“Nor am I hell bent on selling assets, actually in the world of making the boat go faster, actually, I don't think selling assets actually makes the boat go faster."
National says it is selling assets now so it does not have to borrow more.
But Mr Key’s 2008 speech has come back to haunt him, right on the eve of another very important speech.