Secret recordings seem to be the in thing at conferences this year. We had Mike Williams at Labour’s conference, and now Bill English at National’s. English was asked (not during a session, but over coffee it seems) about whether National would sell Kiwibank and he replied “Well eventually, not now”.

Now in one sense, his response is quite unremarkable and consistent with National policy which is not to sell any state asset in their first term of office. And it can be no surprise that as Bill voted against the establishment of Kiwibank, that he doesn’t see any long term reason for keeping Kiwibank – why should the state own a competitive trading enterprise? Why not own New World also?

Now the reality is that if National does get elected, it won’t sell Kiwibank in its first term, and if it wants to sell it in its second term it will have to get re-elected on a policy allowing it to do so. National is not going to break its policy on asset sales, if elected later this year, as they have no desire to be a one term Government.

But the politics are of course a different issue. Bill will be kicking himself for his response, as it means the focus shifts from the infrastructure announcements to Kiwibank. And there will no doubt be many patsy questions to Dr Cullen in the House tomorrow on the issue.

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