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

 

Housing Policy: Auckland Densification As Popular As Ebola, English Says

Finance Minister Bill English said calls by the Reserve Bank Governor for more densification in Auckland’s housing were “about as popular in parts of Auckland as Ebola” would be. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: NZ Government Deficit Smaller Than Expected In First Half

The New Zealand government's operating deficit was smaller than expected in the first six months of the financial year, as the consumption and corporate tax take rose ahead of forecast in December, having lagged estimates in previous months. More>>

ALSO:

Fruit & Veg Crackdown: Auckland Fruit Fly Find Under Investigation

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating a find of a single male Queensland fruit fly in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn... MPI has placed legal controls on the movement of fruit and some vegetables outside of a defined circular area which extends 1.5km from where the fly was trapped in Grey Lynn. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Westpac NZ Reaches $2.97M Swaps Settlement

Westpac Banking Corp’s New Zealand unit has agreed to pay $2.97 million in a settlement with the Commerce Commission over the way the bank sold interest rate swaps to farmers between 2005 and 2012. More>>

ALSO:

Going Dutch: Fonterra Kicks Off $144M Partnership With Dutch Cheese Maker

Fonterra Co-operative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, has commissioned a new dairy ingredients plant in Heerenveen, in the north of the Netherlands, its first wholly-owned and operated ingredients plant in Europe. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Retail Sales Beat Estimates

New Zealand retail sales rose more than expected in the fourth quarter, led by vehicle-related transactions, food and beverages, adding to evidence that cheap credit and a growing jobs market are encouraging consumers to spend. More>>

ALSO:

Delivery Cuts Go Ahead: 'Government Money Grab' From NZ Post

"It's a money grab by the Government as the shareholder of New Zealand Post" says Postal Workers Union advocate Graeme Clarke about the changes announced by NZ Post. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

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