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

 


Crown ownership not enough to secure Treaty rights: lawyer

Majority Crown ownership not enough to secure Treaty rights, says Maori Council

By Pattrick Smellie

Jan. 31 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's highest court has begun hearing the final stage in a challenge by Maori to require settlement of Treaty of Waitangi claims to freshwater before any partial privatisation of state-owned power companies goes ahead.

Colin Carruthers QC opened submissions for the New Zealand Maori Council before a full five judge bench of the Supreme Court, in front of a public gallery packed with Maori, and legal and political observers, who spilled out to watch live replays in the foyer of the court.

Among Carruthers's key arguments is that none of the identified avenues for remedy for Treaty breaches claimed by the Crown is sufficient to ensure recognition of Maori residual proprietary rights in freshwater, which the Waitangi Tribunal has established and the government acknowledges are real.

Even if they were sufficient, he argued that by selling 49 percent of an electricity state-owned enterprise, the Crown would be diluting its capacity to force a compensation for Maori claimants, despite technically maintaining a controlling interest, at 51 percent, in the partially privatised companies.

"The Crown, in going from 100 percent ownership and the ability to effectively control goes to a position of 51 percent and the creation of private rights that 51 percent won't allow the Crown to interfere on," Carruthers argued.

That assertion was challenged by Justice Susan Glazebrook, saying "control doesn't go to private interests, does it?"

Carruthers responded the creation of a 49 percent private shareholding base amounted to a "significant impairment of the Crown's ability to deliver particular results to Maori", such as creation of a resource rental for freshwater used in electricity production or a water body co-management arrangement.

Carruthers faced questions from Justice Robert Chambers when he suggested the Crown could face the need to expropriate private property rights to satisfy an established claim for Treaty breaches involving freshwater.

"Is that really so?" asked Chambers. "That may be true of existing (resource) consents, but they are time-limited are they not?"

Chief Justice Sian Elias was active in questioning, saying at one point: "you really need to explain why, in relation to water, those mechanisms of protection of the Crown's capacity (to remedy) are no longer sufficient if a third party proprietary interest is introduced into the SOE structure."

Carruthers went on to outline what the Maori Council contended were limitations in the three available mechanisms: consultation between government and iwi; current freshwater policy-making initiatives; and the fact of historical Treaty settlements.

Both Justices Chambers and Glazebrook sought more detail about the potential remedies Maori might seek in order to judge how much opportunity might be lost by partial privatisation to protect Maori interests. However, Carruthers said there were numerous possibilities, and cited the emergence in the past of "imaginative solutions" to resolving Treaty claims.

The first partial privatisation is scheduled to occur by mid-year, with MightyRiverPower first cab off the rank. The company controls a string of hydro-electric dams on the Waikato River and geothermal power stations, some of them owned in joint venture with Maori groups.

Delays to the process by court action to date have made this a do-or-die political issue for the government, which is determined to use proceeds of partial privatisations to fund new capital works, including new infrastructure for the transport network and the public health and education systems.

The Supreme Court hearing is set down for two days.

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Suspected Black Widows: Table Grapes Withdrawn From Sale Following Spider Discovery

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is working closely with New Zealand produce retailers to have all imported Mexican table grapes withdrawn from sale following the discovery of spiders in a small number of consignments. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: 11-Month Surplus Beating Forecasts

Once minority interests’ share of revenues and expenses are removed, the total Crown’s operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) was a surplus of $1,176 million in the eleven-month period. This compares to a forecast surplus of $193 million. More>>

ALSO:

Development: Screen Precinct Earmarked For Hobsonville Point

Auckland Council’s Auckland Development Committee has today passed a recommendation to create a screen precinct on council-owned land at Hobsonville Point. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Business Confidence Plummets To Lowest Level Since GFC

New Zealands business confidence plunged to the lowest level in three years in the second quarter as companies became pessimistic about profitability expectations. More>>

ALSO:

Oceans: NZ Jumps Into International Shark Agreement

New Zealand has boosted the protection of sharks by signing the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks. More>>

ALSO:

Insurance: EQC To Double Payout, Scrap Contents Insurance

New Zealand’s Earthquake Commission may double its payout amount, scrap contents insurance and process claims through private insurers under the government’s long-running review of funding and management of the state-run earthquake insurer. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news