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Asset sale delay 'low point of the year', says Key

Published: 1:24PM Sunday November 25, 2012 Source: ONE News

Prime Minister John Key says one of his low points this year has been the delay to the partial sale of state-owned assets.

Speaking with TV ONE's Q+A this morning, Key said he was disappointed the scheme had been delayed because he thought companies such as Mighty River Power would perform better under the Mixed Ownership Model.

"I think we'd like to get there. I think those companies would perform arguably better or give investments for New Zealanders," he said.

Key's comments come a day before the Maori Council takes its asset sale objections to the High Court in Wellington.

However, the Prime Minister emphasised the controversy which ensued following the arrest of Kim Dotcom was "definitely not" a low point.

Last week, in an interview with Q+A's Paul Holmes, Dotcom said he had evidence Key lied about knowing of his existence before the police raid of the internet entrepreneur's home in January this year.

In response, Key disputed Dotcom's comments today, saying they were "completely and factually incorrect".

"To say that someone lies means that you have deliberately misled people, and there is no way I've done that.

"My office has gone through every piece of correspondence my electoral office has had, every piece of correspondence I've had that could be related anyway to this, and any meetings I have had.

"There's absolutely nothing there," he said.

Key added he did not think the majority of the population were particularly concerned about Dotcom's case.

"The Government actually doesn't care about Kim Dotcom. He might think we get up every morning and it's a top of mind issue, but it's not. In fact, most New Zealanders don't care about Kim Dotcom, the person who cares about Kim Dotcom is Kim Dotcom.

"As we've said all the way along, is if this guy believes he is so innocent, get on a plane, go to America and fight your case. If you win, then come back to New Zealand - no problem," said Key.

Leader for another term

The Prime Minister also told Q+A he believed he would be leading the National Party into the 2014 election.

"I believe, for sure, I will be," he said. "I've got the support of my caucus, unlike Labour."

Despite Statistics New Zealand figures released earlier this month showing unemployment had reached 7.3%, Key said he believed employment had grown under the National-led Government.

"If you go and have a look at, say, people who are on the unemployment benefit under National, they've fallen, and they've fallen considerably in the last year.

"And if you go and have a look at the last time New Zealand had an unemployment rate of 7.3%, it was 1999. Those on an unemployment benefit were 150,000 and that population was smaller."

Key added the Government was focused on creating an environment where businesses could thrive, particularly in the context of issues like austerity measures and others in the euro zone.

"The Government actually - contrary to what people think - doesn't create jobs. What it does do is create an environment that encourages those tens of thousands of businesses around New Zealand to create jobs.

"And we've been providing that environment for them against the backdrop of an incredibly weak international position," said Key.

The Prime Minister said the Government was focused on the economy because he believed every New Zealander wanted to work.