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eBOOK PUBLISHED have published an ebook version of Takeaway – the Sale of the Government Printing Office which coincided with the 30th anniversary of the first Government Asset Sale in New Zealand. Read on your phone, tablet or computer.

Following the announcement of the sale of the GPO a large round sign with ‘Prebbles Pebble’ written on it appeared outside a third floor window of the Mulgrave St building. This depicted the ‘stoning’ of many valuable Crown assets by the Fourth Labour Government with some of the people responsible featured on the book cover photo.

About The Book

On January 21, 1988 the Minister of State Owned Enterprises, Richard Prebble started the preliminary process of selling the Government Printing Office. Following a report by a Steering Committee under the leadership of Rob Campbell the Cabinet accepted the recommendation that the GPO be sold and a public announcement was made on June 9, 1988.

But over the following 16 months the Treasury, State Services Commission and the number of consultants that were engaged made little progress in working through the issues that required resolving before the sale documents could be finalised and sent to potential bidders. The two main issues involved the Employees’ Agreement and the Parliamentary Printing Contract and as the book details the failure to address these items cost the Crown millions of dollars.

In September 1988 Fay, Richwhite one of the many consultants contracted by Treasury, valued the GPO at $71 million.

In the light of what took place during and after the sale document was finally signed there was much controversy over the botched handling of the sale process that took two years to complete and this is covered within the book.

What’s inside




Chapter 2

The Selling of the GPO


Chapter 4



Chronology of Events


Extract from the Budget Statement


Chapter 1

The 1980s – Decade of Change


Chapter 3

An Asset Lost




GPO Staff

GPO Staff in 1984 when the new Corporate Identity was launched.

Part of Chapter 2

Cabinet who were encouraged by the influential and powerful members within its ranks Roger Douglas, Richard Prebble and David Caygill known as the “Treasury Troika”, approved a package of the tax reforms and the GMFI and this, along with the asset sales, were announced at a special media briefing on December 17, 1987.

As part of the government’s fiscal strategy the intention was to significantly reduce the country’s debt position through a programme of asset sales. Over the next two years, major privatisations were proposed which included the Bank of New Zealand, Petrocorp, Post Office, New Zealand Steel, the New Zealand Shipping Corporation, the Government Printing Office, State Insurance and Telecom. The government decided upon three criteria against which any proposed asset sale would be measured. These were:
1: The government must receive more from the sale of the business than it would from retaining ownership, bearing in mind the risk attached to continued ownership.
2: The sale of a particular business must not impede the government’s economic goals and must contribute to them.
3: The sale of a particular business must not impede the government’s social goals but must contribute to them.

However, Lange after reflection over the Christmas break announced in January 1988 that the government needed to pause for a while, have a cuppa tea and further consideration should be given on the tax reforms and the decision regarding further asset sales.

This change of mind by Lange did not deter the Minister of State Owned Enterprises, Richard Prebble. A deep thinking man with an ego bigger than Mount Ruapehu and a conscience of no consequence when you consider the 16,000 rail workers who lost their jobs when this same Minister did a hatched job on rail, Prebble decided on January 21 to start the preliminary process of selling the Government Printing Office. This required a trusted figure to take charge of the operation. Apart from the academic credentials required Prebble wanted a person loyal to the men who years earlier were known as the “fish and chip brigade” and were now charged with running the country. He found the perfect fit in Rob Campbell. Formerly an anarchist and strong trade unionist who associated with members of the Socialist Unity Party, Campbell was a member of the Labour Party National Executive and now a born-again supporter of business and the form of capitalistic ideology that the Lange Government had aligned itself to.

Campbell’s first job was to assemble a Steering Committee who were to report back to the Minister by March 31, 1988. As chairman, Campbell established a committee that comprised of Craig Taylor, Jarden and Co; Rex Ward, Government Printer; along with representatives from the State Services Commission and the Treasury.

Book Makeup


In 1991 the Government Administration Committee resolved to conduct an inquiry into the sale of the Government Printing Office. This was due to the many unanswered questions during its examination of the Estimates that related to the disposal of the department and the unacceptable result that it produced for the Crown.

The sale prompted another potential bidder to say – "it was stolen and I was very disappointed we did not steal it".

Former Brierley Investments Chairman, Bruce Hancox.

eBook Available Now!

The ebook version can be downloaded from our Website Store.

In June, 1988 the Cabinet of the Labour Government approved the sale of the Government Printing Office as part of a series of asset sales that would contribute towards payment of New Zealand’s chronic public debt. However this was never achieved due to the very poor sale result and only served as an event that was profitable for the consultants involved and a springboard that was to launch Graeme Hart’s Rank Group into the country’s wealthiest investment business which, 30 years on, is worth more than the national debt reduction the asset sales programme was supposed to achieve.