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Sell schools and hospital – Scott

Alastair Scott: We should be thinking about what [government’s] purpose is. Is it to own buildings? I say no, absolutely not.

Wairarapa MP says government should not own buildings

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Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott has been attacked by the finance minister in Parliament for saying governments shouldn’t own hospitals, and questioning whether they should own schools.

But National’s associate finance spokesman is unapologetic and says there needs to be a debate about what governments should own.

The political spat started in a debate in Parliament about Treasury’s investment statement on June 13 when Scott questioned if the government should own hospitals, houses, buildings, farms, schools, roads or “tarmac”.

“It makes no sense to me at all that the government should be the owner of our hospitals. It’s nonsense,” Scott said.

“We should be thinking about what [government’s] purpose is. Is it to own buildings? Is it to own hospitals? Is it to own schools and social houses? I say no, absolutely not.”

Finance Minister Grant Robertson got a transcript and on Wednesday launched an attack in Parliament’s general debate, asking if Scott had “revealed to us the direction of the National Party”.

“It’s going firmly in reverse.”

Robertson went to town on Scott’s reference to universities as a “lazy asset”, saying there were several problems with it.

“The first is we don’t actually own universities – they own themselves, and they’ll be thrilled to learn how lazy they have all been,” Robertson said.

Scott said it was unusual to be singled out for such a prolonged attack, so he must have struck a nerve.

“Grant Robertson reacted because he knows I’m right,” Scott said.

He said the Treasury document posed the question about what governments should do with assets, and he was simply answering it.

His point was, “let’s question the status quo”.

He had not got into trouble for his remarks, adding: “I get into more trouble if I’m late”.

In the debate, Scott went as far as to say, “We could privatise the army”, but then dismissed it as an idea.

He later said that was tongue-in-cheek because Defence Minister Ron Mark was in the House.

Scott said many people who worked for the government did not work in buildings owned by the government, and there were already hospitals and schools not owned by the state.

He also said in Wairarapa there were no Housing New Zealand houses, as they were sold by a previous National government to Trust House 20 years ago.

Governments should look after people in need, but they did not have to own the houses they lived in, Scott said.

Robertson said the government was investing record sums of money in the provinces while National had eyes firmly fixed on the rear vision mirror.

Scott said it had been proven that the government was not a good owner of energy assets.

Asked if he would sell Wairarapa Hospital, he said he had not thought about it.

Certain things had to happen before things were sold.

One was competition.


  1. This man has 0% knowledge of science, if his statements regarding irrigation are anything to go by. I expect his knowledge of economics is less. This is just a way to enrich their mates at the expense of the rest of us.

  2. Scott should provide proof about his assertions instead of repeating the same old lies that investment bankers justify to steal the publics assets

  3. This guy is in a time warp holding to the failed neo liberal policies of the 80s,90s and 2000s.We only need to look at the last 3 decades.The sale of railways (local commuters are now bearing the consequences),Air NZ and the sale of the BNZ are obvious examples with the tax payer picking up the tab for the botched efforts of our then politial leaders and their roundtable mates. Efforts to privatise health services under the guise of Crown Health Enterprises in the 90s were an abject failure. All costing the tax payer millions. Come to 2008 and those failed corporations and who bailed them out? Tell me where is the accountability for these monumental failures? We are now experiencing record inequalities with record food parcels being handed out, children lacking in nutrition and yes homelessness has not escaped the Wairarapa despite The National Govt’s ‘enlightened’ sale of all our state owned housing!Perhaps the question may justifiably be asked what is in it for Mr Scott and his merchant banking cronies?

  4. NastyNat Party or even nastier ACT party? Of course this is exactly the direction the NastyNats would take us except they know it’s not exactly a winner. Hopefully it is rapidly becoming a total loser!

  5. It doesn’t seem such a wise comparison to refer to the energy sector as an example of government failure to manage assets. When assets were owned by the government we had some of the lowest energy prices. Since privatisation we have some of the most expensive.

  6. Just more selling assets and putting the future in the hands of contractors….dodgy at best…. throwing the public to the wolves….typical Nat thinking….

  7. The Americanization of New Zealand’s National Party continues apace. Ideology over pragmatism. Private profit over community well being. When they are done strip mining the public sector where will they turn next?

  8. easy to come to the right conclusion, look at countries that do have state owned hospitals and schools, vs those that don’t. look at their outcomes
    look at those countries that have fallen for this and privatised their schooling and healthcare (and prisons), look how that’s going for them
    this guys is an absolute nutter

  9. So I take from what this guy Scott says, is that he wants to sell all government owned entities and create private hospitals and schools etc? Me thinks Mr Scott has lost something. Once upon a time in Parliament, MP’s didn’t speak to media without their Leaders consent. It then stopped characters like Mr Scott from saying such stupid statements without substance.

  10. we once owned our power generating hydro system and the biggest man made forest in the world.
    A failed pig farmer came along and sold them and look what happened there.
    We are paying through the nose for electricity, and Shane has to try and get enough trees planted to prevent us running out of timber for houses.

  11. Hospitals can’t be run as businesses which they have been for years.they are for the social good.and it’s a stupid idea to pay rent for buildings rather then owning them.

  12. The same party that thinks there is nothing wrong with some hospital buildings. Money before people, typical.

  13. I don’t thinkgovernments should have National MP’s if thats his attitude. Who exctly does he want to own them.

  14. Mr Scott says he hasn’t thought about selling Wairarapa Hospital. Ha ha, but he has!

    Did he think saying the government should sell hospitals exempted his own hospital from the list?

    Did he think – ooops, no he didn’t think, did he? Sell hospitals means selling all hospitals, Mr Scott. So why did you give such a thoughtless answer?

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