“If shareholders wanted out of Kiwibank it should have been floated on the open market, instead the Government is making it taxpayers’ problem,” says ACT’s Leader and Finance spokesperson David Seymour.

“I get that ACC and NZ Super don’t want to own it, but why is the taxpayer on the hook? What’s more, there’s a question around the independence of ACC and the Super Fund. Did they both just simultaneously decide to sell, or did the Government approach one or the other of them and they both agreed to sell?

“Finance Minister Grant Robertson has borrowed and spent his way to New Zealand being billions of dollars in debt, why does he think it is a good idea for the Government to now buy a bank?

“The question is going to be around the cost, since there wasn’t an open tender process no one knows if Robertson has bullied shareholders into giving it up at a bargain rate, or alternatively if he has overpaid at taxpayers’ expense.

“The best that can be said is that the taxpayer ultimately owns all of them, but in that case what was the point in ACC or the Super Fund taking a stake in the first place? If the goal was for ACC and the Super Fund to maximise their returns and save the taxpayer money, it makes no sense for them to take taxpayer money for their holdings.

“A further question is whether and why Kiwibank will be more efficient if its only stakeholder is not the taxpayer through Grant Robertson, who seems happy to bail them out.

“As part of our fully costed Real Change Alternative Budget, ACT proposes that we extend the mixed ownership model to all SOEs for less debt and higher productivity. Why shouldn’t Kiwis have the ability to buy into Kiwibank if they want to?

“It is a politically durable and economically robust compromise between state ownership and privatisation. It drives productivity by applying market discipline to firms and provides cash for government debt repayment, while reassuring those skeptical of privatisation that the majority stake remains in public hands.

“Extending the Mixed Ownership Model to most SOEs would save the taxpayer $8 billion. With interest rates rising taxpayers can’t afford to keep that debt on the Government’s books.

"If the Government is serious about getting the best outcomes from taxpayer-owned assets, it should apply the Mixed Ownership Model to all of our remaining SOEs.

“With the Government books in such a dire state, a sensible Finance Minister would have chosen this option before dipping back into the public purse to buy a bank.”

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David Seymour