Claire Trevett writes:
At the same time, a press release announced Ministers David Parker and Grant Robertson had overturned a decision by Shaw’s colleague, Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage, not to allow a land sale for Waihi Mines to develop tailings ponds.
Sage had rejected that application under the Overseas Investment Act in May and Oceana Gold, the company involved, had gone to the courts to review the decision.
The company had then also put in a new application in August – a move understood to have followed a gentle suggestion from Labour about what options it might have.
Had Parker and Robertson been happy with Sage’s decision, they could have refused to consider the second application and left it to the courts.
That they did not do so indicates they believed they would lose in the courts.
I think it was very clear that Sage had made an illegal decision, that would easily lose in the courts.
The reason for that is in the press release the ministers issued when they announced the second application had been allowed.
“The Ministers noted that they are required to assess only the benefits described in the Overseas Investment Act when making their decision.”
That sentence effectively indicates Robertson and Parker believed Sage made a decision for political (or at least irrelevant) reasons rather than the criteria set out in law.
So a Minister who can’t or won’t follow the law.
It was a complete steamrolling of Sage and should have Sage considering whether she should continue to hold on to the portfolio.
It amounted to a show of a lack of confidence in Sage’s willingness to properly conduct such decisions, and that Sage was too conflicted by her political beliefs for the job.
Yet the PM keeps her on.