Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


Rough ride for Maori claimants in asset sales hearing

Rough ride for Maori claimants in asset sales hearing

By Pattrick Smellie

Nov.26 (BusinessDesk) - High Court proceedings challenging the government's partial privatisation of MightyRiverPower commenced this morning and immediately faced strong questioning from the presiding judge, Justice Ronald Young.

Appearing for the Waikato River and Dams Claims Trust and the Poukani Claims Trust, Helen Cull QC argued that Maori claims to water and land rights could not be adequately protected once MRP was removed from the State-Owned Enterprises Act and placed under new law covering the so-called Mixed Ownership Model companies.

The government wants to sell up to 49 percent of MRP and two other state-owned electricity companies, but plans to mount the MRP sale in 2012 were derailed by objections originally brought by the New Zealand Maori Council.

The council is due to make its submissions tomorrow, before Crown lawyers respond in hearings that may take all week, and are expected to go to appeal, irrespective of the outcome.

The government hopes formal consultations already undertaken will convince the courts there are no grounds for further challenge to its asset sales policy, and that a sale can occur in the second quarter of next year, subject to favourable market conditions.

Cull argued the provisions of legislation covering MOM companies and purporting to protect Maori interests in freshwater suffered from being less complete than SOE Act protections and that the partially privatised company would be commercially motivated to oppose claims lodged under the Treaty of Waitangi.

However, Justice Young pushed back strongly in several exchanges with Cull, saying he could not understand the argument, given that the legislation explicitly assures Maori that the Crown would continue to be liable for settlement of such claims.

"You are really saying Parliament isn't sovereign, that it is subject to the commercial interests of people involved with MRP" he said at one point. But Parliament changed the operating environment for companies "all the time."

He discouraged Cull from pursuing evidence of difficulties being experienced by some applicants to lodge such claims, saying that was not relevant to the provisions of the relevant statute.

"If the statute says it's protected, it's protected," said Justice Young. The reassurance about the ability to continue pursuing Treaty of Waitangi claims was in the MOM legislation.

"Shareholders can't object. They know the statute exists."

The combative court environment continued after the morning break.

“Any Maori, hapu or iwi, who believe they have rights to water, can make a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, irrespective of this. There is a mechanism," said Justice Young of arguments from Cull that there was insufficient protection for assets that are or could in the future be subject to treaty claims.

"You identify a right and file a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal or negotiate a settlement," he said.

Cull argued there was no guarantee of relevant redress for claimants under the MOM process.

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Scoop Business: RBNZ Keeps OCR At 3.5%, Signals Slower Pace Of Future Hikes

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 3.5 percent and signalled he won’t be as aggressive with future rate hikes as previously thought as inflation remains tamer than expected. The kiwi dollar fell to a seven-month low. More>>

ALSO:

Weather: Dry Spells Take Hold In South Island

Many areas in the South Island are tracking towards record dry spells as relatively warm, dry weather that began in mid-August continues... for some South Island places, the current period of fine weather is quite rare. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Productivity Commission To Look At Housing Land Supply

The Productivity Commission is to expand on its housing affordability report with an investigation into improving land supply and development capacity, particularly in areas with strong population growth. More>>

ALSO:

Forestry: Man Charged After 2013 Death

Levin Police have arrested and charged a man with manslaughter in relation to the death of Lincoln Kidd who was killed during a tree felling operation on 19 December 2013. More>>

ALSO:

Smells Like Justice: Dairy Company Fined Over Odour

Dairy company fined over odour Dairy supply company Open Country Dairy Limited has been convicted and fined more than $35,000 for discharging objectionable odour from its Waharoa factory at the time of last year’s ”spring flush” when milk supply was high. More>>

Scoop Business: Dairy Product Prices Decline To Lowest Since July 2012

Dairy product prices dropped to the lowest level since July 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, led by a slump in rennet casein and butter milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

SOE Results: TVNZ Lifts Annual Profit 25% On Flat Ad Revenue, Quits Igloo

Television New Zealand, the state-owned broadcaster, lifted annual profit 25 percent, ahead of forecast and despite a dip in advertising revenue, while quitting its stake in the pay-TV Igloo joint venture with Sky Network Television. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news