Mr English said he was not deterred by the outcome of the two completed State Owned Enterprise share floats.
Those floats have attracted criticism, with the initial share price for Meridian being set at the lower end of the expected range, while the performance of Mighty River Power shares have disappointing many investors.
Throwing It All Away
Experts are warning that any attempt by the government to sell down a share of Genesis is likely to end in disappointment.
“Genesis is an underperforming asset,” said analyst John Rael. “It has faced a number of governance issues in the last few years, its core infrastructure is ageing badly, and the outlook for the future is grim at best.”
But Bill English said the time was right for a sale of Genesis.
“It makes no sense for the government to own shares in a historic British progressive rock group whose best days are long past,” said English.
“We think that a strategic sell-down of some of the band’s elderly members might just be the thing the group needs to start recording again.”
Labour and the Greens have been fierce opponents of plans to sell down the government’s share in Genesis. The band has not recorded a studio album since 1997, and there seems little prospect of the group reuniting any time soon. However, Genesis continues to earn millions of dollars from its extensive back catalogue.
In Too Deep
Mr English acknowledged that Genesis has faced some difficulties in the past, including personnel changes, and the constant derision of rock critics. The band has been accused of creating some of the most pretentious long-winded music the rock world has ever seen, and yet it continues to have a loyal following.
“This asset has historically underperformed,” said English, “apart from a period in the 1980s when Genesis had a series of chart-topping hits. We think it makes sense to sell a share of the band now, because its current members are ageing and show no inclination to get back together for another tour or studio album.”
English hit back at criticism from Labour and the Greens that the demise of Genesis was entirely the fault of the National government.
“Labour had nine long years to get Genesis back into shape,” said English. “But how many studio albums did they record during Labour’s time in office? Not one. Not one single studio album!”
But Labour’s SOE and Progressive Rock spokesman Clayton Cosgrove defended his party’s record in office.
“Under our administration the band undertook two very successful tours. I am very proud of our record when it comes to Genesis.”
Green Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman acknowledged that the band had struggled after the departure of Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett in the 1970s. But he remained in favour of retaining the band.
“If you persevere with their music you find that albums like Wind and Wuthering and Duke really start to grow on you,” said Dr Norman.
Get ‘Em Out by Friday
State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall agreed with Bill English’s assessment that now was the right time for a partial sale of the band.
“We shouldn’t be in the business of owning rock bands,” said Ryall. “Especially not elderly prog rock ones.
“I’ve never been a fan of pompous art rock. Look that these ties. Look at these sharp suits. Do I look like someone who would admit to listening to Genesis?”
I Can’t Dance
Despite the lacklustre floats of Mighty River Power and Meridian, National’s support parties remain in support of the asset sales programme.
United Future leader Peter Dunne confirmed his backing of National’s plan to partially sell Genesis.
“I would love to see Phil Collins focus more on his solo career,” said Dunne. “While he hasn’t done a thing with Genesis for years, rumours persist that they will reunite.
“I want to see more great Phil Collins songs, like I Wish it Would Rain Down, You Can’t Hurry Love, and Another Day in Paradise.
“Against All Odds is something of an anthem for me, because my opponents have written me off so many times.
“So the sooner Phil Collins puts the whole Genesis thing behind him the better.”
The Living Years
However, Clayton Cosgrove says getting rid of the group’s drummer and lead vocalist would be a disaster.
“Without Phil Collins the band would be nothing. Have you heard the album they recorded in 1997 without Phil? It was like listening to Mike and the Mechanics.”