Asset sale delay pleases Maori
Tue, 04 Sep 2012 5:21a.m.
By 3 News online staff / NZN
The Government has avoided legal action by the Maori Council and has pleased the Maori Party by holding off the partial privatisation of Mighty River Power until March next year.
Prime Minister John Key announced the decision on Monday, saying there would be talks with iwi leaders over Maori water rights during the next five weeks.
They will be discussing the "shares plus" concept raised in the Waitangi Tribunal's report - which proposes giving Maori special rights in Mighty River Power and the other two power companies that are going to be partially privatised.
Mr Key says the government has had legal advice and "shares plus" won't work, but he's prepared to talk about it to find out whether iwi can "come up with anything new".
"The Government's current view is that this idea should not be progressed," he said.
"But we need clarity and certainty, and taking some time to talk about it is the prudent thing to do."
The Maori Council, which was threatening to seek a High Court injunction to stop the Mighty River Power share sale if it had gone ahead in November - as the Government initially proposed - says the delay shows it was right to go to the tribunal.
Deputy chair Rahui Katene says there will be time for detailed discussions but the council will keep all its options on the table.
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says the government has shown it respects the need for iwi to be consulted.
"We're very pleased because we advocated for that."
Mana Party leader Hone Harawira says it's "about bloody time" Prime Minister John Key realised how serious the opposition is to the sales.
"It’s a far cry from the disparaging comments he made about the claim, the Council and the Tribunal a couple of months back," says Mr Harawira.
"Government’s decision to delay the sale of state assets until at least March 2013 is a back-down of massive proportions and a victory for all New Zealanders, many of whom have been working furiously to get together the numbers needed to force a referendum to stop asset sales."
Mr Harawira says the delay "shows that the Treaty is the only constitutional document we can rely on to safeguard our assets and our future".
"This is not the time for hasty decisions or fast deals. Now is the time for patience and for participation, and I urge all iwi leaders to lead the engagement of their people in what is likely to be the biggest decision they will ever make."This morning former ACT Party leader Rodney Hide rubbished the Waitangi Tribunal's view.
"I read most carefully the tribunal report and I found it to be utter bollocks," he told Firstline this morning.
"There’s no argument there of ownership, it’s just that the tribunal asserts it. They say that Maori own water because they sang songs about a river, they identified spirits… that’s nonsense.
"The treaty is silent on water. What the treaty says, and the tribunal observes this, is that Maori property rights will be upheld. They then create the fiction that Maori own water. Clearly they don’t," says Mr Hide.
"What the tribunal’s done is in a fairyland sort of happy-clappy kind of way, has tried to construct rights out into the year 2012. Clearly it’s bollocks."
NZN / 3 News
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