Govt wins partial asset sales court case

The 88 page decision is here.

English and Ryall say:

Finance Minister Bill English and State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall today welcomed the High Court decision in favour of the Crown following last month’s High Court action regarding the sale of shares in Mighty River Power.

“The High Court decision confirms the Government can proceed to sell up to 49 per cent of shares in four state owned energy companies, in accordance with the legislation passed by Parliament earlier this year,” Mr English says. 

“The Government is firmly of the view that the partial sale of shares does not in any way affect the Crown’s ability to recognise rights and interests in water, or to provide redress for genuine Treaty claims.”

Mr Ryall says the Government’s share offer programme remains on track.

“The Government remains committed to an initial public offering of Mighty River Power Shares in the first half of 2013,” he says. “If the High Court decision is appealed, we hope this can be heard as soon as possible.

Will the throw away good money after bad? Their lawyers will want them to, for sure.

Very pleased personally with the decision. I’ve regarded the legal action as an attempt to blackmail (in a legal not criminal sense) the Government into offering free shares or some such to those behind the Council action.

What is significant is that the High Court has ruled that the decision is simply not reveiwable. He also shoots down the shares plus proposal by the Waitangi Tribunal. On the main issue he concludes:

I am satisfied that the sale of MRP shares will not compromise the Crown’s ability to provide recognition of rights or redress for Māori for claimed proprietary interests in water.

There is little connection between the sale of shares in a company which neither owns nor has any property rights in water, but uses water for its business and Māori rights recognition and redress with respect to water.

The precise point that has been obvious to many.

On shares plus:

I cannot see that the shares plus concept is workable, all but one of the identified advantages are available after the sale and the shares plus concept is unlikely to provide the benefits to Māori identified.


I have found that the actions of the Crown are not inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in that those actions are not likely to materially affect redress or rights claims by Māori or redress with respect to its claims to a proprietary interest in water.

And on if the decisions are reviewable:

I am satisfied that the three proposed decisions of the Crown; the commencement decision; the amendment to the constitution of MRP decision; and the sale of MRP shares decision; are not reviewable decisions. …

No review of Parliament by the Courts is permitted in law. This is effectively what the claimants have asked this Court to do in these proceedings.

If you are interested in the detail, I suggest you read the full court judgement. I’d call it damning for the plaintiffs. Justice Young has not just said that the decisions are not reviewable, but even if they are they would fail on each and every ground submitted by the plaintiffs. It is a very strong victory for the Crown in my lay opinion.

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