Debate 3

“The New Zealand Government should sell 100% of its SOE stake, not 49%”

Norman Gemmell, Paul Dyer, Lew Evans, Arthur Grimes
Above (left to right): The Chair (Norman Gemmell), the Proponent (Paul Dyer), the Opponent (Lew Evans), the Commentator (Arthur Grimes)

On 24 October, 2012, at the Old Government Building Lecture Theatre 1, Paul Dyer (the Proponent) and Lew Evans (the Opponent) presented their cases on whether the New Zealand Government should sell 100%, or just 49%, of its SOE stake. A slightly different format this time round: the Opponent opened the debate with his argument in favour of the government’s current policy of selling just 49%. Lew argued that this would deliver many of the Boardroom and governance advantages of 100% share sales while also giving public servants important experience of working with large market-driven companies.

Paul then delivered his stance that ‘full privatisation’ was preferable. Paul argued that the 49% sale option was merely a political compromise, and that the evidence from many studies backed the case for significant benefits from full privatisation. Arthur Grimes, the Commentator, summed up the two sides and noted that the favourable evidence on privatisation effects was typically based on ‘0% versus 100%’ comparisons rather than ‘49% versus 100%’.

Above: Norman Gemmell introduces the speakers.
Lew Evans
Above: Lew Evans opens the debate in favour of the government's stance on 49% SOE sale
Paul Dyer
Above: Paul Dyer proposing for 100% sale of the government's SOE stake. Paul has kindly provided his presentation and speaking notes.

A show of hands indicated that the majority of the audience were not persuaded by the current government’s model: they voted clearly for the sale of 100% SOE shares, not just 49%. The debate provoked further discussion during the refreshments that followed.

Thank you to all the presenters for their work on making this debate a success. Again, to Katherine and Aidan Meerman for their video work, which will be made available shortly on our website.

Enquiries to the Administrator, Chair in Public Finance, CPF Info or 04 463 9656