Are asset sales a go?

Tracy Watkins reports:

The Cabinet is expected to press ahead today with the Government’s flagship programme after a landmark report.

But insiders are not ruling out a “short to medium” delay to the first share offering, as the Cabinet weighs up whether to push out the original timetable by just a few weeks – which would still allow for a pre-Christmas float – or delay the sale of the first shares until early next year.

Putting the part-float of state-owned energy companies on ice indefinitely is not on the table, sources say.

I never thought it was.

There were calls yesterday for the Government to delay the sales as Labour and the Greens step up their efforts to force a referendum on the issue before the next election.

They’re not quite there let. Obviously the Greens need to spend more taxpayer funding on hiring signature collectors.

I also look forward to the Greens and Labour announcing they are repealing or amending the anti-smacking law, as they have suddenly become fans of referenda trumping election outcomes.

In an urgent report a week ago, the Waitangi Tribunal called on the Government to put the first share float for Mighty River Power on hold until it had thrashed out a mechanism for recognising Maori proprietary rights and interests on waterways within power company catchments.

Controversially, the tribunal proposed a “share plus” option as one solution, possibly including super-dividends, board seats and even a right of veto for Maori.

But the Cabinet seems almost certain to balk at that option, given the power it would hand to iwi as minority shareholders to override bigger shareholders and management on strategic decisions. Government sources have confirmed there are concerns at whether the “shares plus” option is even workable.

What does that mean for the credibility of the Tribunal, if it has proposed an option that in workable?

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