Asset Sales and the Treaty

Danya Levy at Stuff reports:

The Government is being accused of selling Treaty rights to the highest bidder following suggestions Treaty protections will not be included in new legislation to enact the partial sale of state-owned assets.

Nationwide hui begin next week for the Government to consult Maori on its plans to sell up to 49 per cent of four state-owned energy companies and further reduce its shareholding of Air New Zealand.

The Government is required to pass legislation to remove the four energy companies from the State-Owned Enterprises Act to proceed with the sales.

If a company is no longer an SOE, then its obligations are the same as any other company, such as Air New Zealand.

But in all the fuss about asset sales and Maori, I like this investigation by Cactus Kate:

Ngai Tgahu know all about asset sales so should be supporting National’s privatisation programme. Here are just two recent examples of Maori more than happy to flog off their assets to foreigners who need OIO approvals.
In 2010 they sold 1348 hectares in Kaikoura to an American couple for 7.5 million dollars. They paid 8 million dollars so made a $500,000 loss.

In 2011 they sold 18,000 hectares of forest to a Swiss owned family company for 22.9 million dollars.

So Ngai Tahu sold twice as much land as the Crafar farms. Does Labour and the Maori Party think they should have not been allowed to do so?

UPDATE: The Maori Party are saying they may quit the Government if there is no treaty clause in the legislation removing the companies from the SOE schedule. This ratchets up the pressure on the Government considerably, but it is worth noting the Government can govern without Maori Party support.

If the Maori Party walk over this, they’ll presumably lose the constitutional review, their portfolios, and I imagine Whanua Ora. The second term was always going to be more challenging for National and the Maori Party – but I guess John Key was hoping flare ups would not occur quite so quickly.

The Maori Party do need to be careful about threatening to walk over an issue. That’s a card you can play only once or twice in a term. If you try to play it too often, then it loses its effectiveness and even backfires.

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