No “shares plus”

John Key has announced:

Prime Minister John Key today outlined the Government’s next steps to prepare Mighty River Power for its partial sale in the first half of 2013.

“I’m pleased to announce today Cabinet made three decisions regarding our shares sales programme:

“First, the Government will not implement the Waitangi Tribunal’s ‘shares plus’ concept, or engage in further negotiations in relation to that concept, before the sale of shares in our energy companies.

Good. This will almost inevitably see the Maori Council go to court – which was also pretty inevitable. They have to make the case that the Government reducing its shareholding from 100% to 51% means they will be unable to resolve any claims around water rights. Considering Contact Energy was sold 100%, without any loss of ability, I think this is a hard case to make. The bigger danger is an injunction until the full case is decided. That is why the sale is delayed until after March next year.

“Second, the Government will proceed to remove Mighty River Power from the State Owned Enterprises Act. We will prepare an Order in Council for Cabinet and Executive Council to consider and approve on Tuesday 23 October.

“And finally, we will direct officials to continue to work towards a sale of up to 49 per cent of the shares in Mighty River Power between March and June 2013.”

Good. This was at the centre of the election campaign, and parties that said they would support this received the majority of seats in Parliament.

Mr Key says the Government’s position on water has always been very clear:

  • In common law no one owns water.
  • Maori do have rights and interests in water, and these will continue to be addressed through a range of processes such as Treaty settlements, the Government’s Fresh Start for Fresh Water programme and dialogue with iwi leaders.
  • The partial sale of Mighty River Power does not impact on the Crown’s ability to recognise Maori rights and interests in water.

A nice summary.

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