Christopher Luxon says asset sales 'not on the agenda', claims Government trying to deflect from Three Waters entrenchment clause

Christopher Luxon says selling assets is "not on the agenda" and believes the Government is scrambling following the entrenchment saga. 

The Government dumped the controversial entrenchment clause in the Three Waters legislation following criticism from some of the country's top law academics.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta sent a letter to National calling for cross-party support on not selling water assets. 

"It is important to note the entrenchment clause only applied to maintaining public ownership of water assets. In order to protect against privatisation of these assets we will also be seeking political assurances from the National and ACT parties via letters that ask them to commit to public ownership," leader of the House Chris Hipkins said when announcing the Government would remove the entrenchment clause. 

National Party leader Christopher Luxon has previously said National wouldn't privatise assets if the party is in Government, instead wanting the assets in "local control and ownership". 

When asked on AM on Wednesday about the letter sent by Mahuta, Luxon said they've been "crystal clear" they aren't interested in privatisation.

"This is a political stunt that's actually backfired on the Government. To be honest, there's no need for us to respond or say that because we've said from day one there will be no privatisation. We want these assets returned and to stay in local ownership and control," Luxon told AM co-host Ryan Bridge. 

Luxon said the only people talking about privatisation are Labour and the Greens.

"I've said to you before, we don't see any need for privatisation for other assets. We said that six months or so ago, but that's our position as we go into the election next year, is we don't see a need for privatisation of any assets at this point," Luxon said. 

When asked by Bridge if he would go further and promise not to sell any state-owned asset, Luxon said, "I can tell you right now that is not on our agenda, it's not something Nicola Willis and I are thinking about."

The National Party leader said the Government is using privatisation to try to take the focus off the controversial entrenchment clause.

"I want to be really clear on the water assets because that is a complete political squirrel where they want to deflect and distract from what's going on here, which is the Prime Minister [Jacinda Ardern] has not been forthcoming," he said. 

"Everyone's blaming everyone else, it's turning into a bad rendition of Shaggy's 'It Wasn't Me', to be honest, everyone is pointing the finger at each other and saying, I had nothing to do with it, I didn't know about it. 

"That's what they're trying to deflect and distract with these privatisation comments about it. We've been clear from day one, we're not interested in privatisation of these assets. We want them returned to local control and ownership."

Watch the full interview with Christopher Luxon above.