Cabinet holds back on asset sales, waits for Supreme Court

The government will wait for the Supreme Court to rule on the Maori Council appeal against the partial privatisation of state-owned electricity company Mighty River Power, even though it needed a decision by today to meet its own sales timetable.

Prime Minister John Key told his post-Cabinet press conference that cabinet could have passed an Order in Council today to proceed with the sale, but it would have been "churlish" to do so with the court promising to produce a decision by the end of the month.

The fact the five-judge bench of the country's highest court has been unable to reach a verdict is fuelling speculation the court is split on the question of whether the decision to partially sell state assets should be judicially reviewed.

The Maori Council sought a judicial review in the High Court late last year, which was swiftly rejected. An appeal then went straight to the Supreme Court, overleaping the Court of Appeal in deference to the government's desire to get a sale under its belt by mid-year.

The MRP sale, if successful, would be followed by the sale of up to 49 percent of Meridian Energy or Genesis Energy by the end of 2013.

The government had sought a decision from the Supreme Court by February 18 in order to meet a timetable that would see the company floated on the NZX just ahead of the May 16 Budget.

However, the court said last week it would not be able to rule that quickly, although it would produce a decision by the end of the month.

Asked whether the delay represented an impediment to the sale, Mr Key replied: "It's not really. In a perfect world, we would have had an answer today because that fitted our timetable best. But I think that a couple of weeks pushes up to the edge and it doesn't make the first date we wanted on the timetable possible.

"Frankly, we could have tried to push the process and passed an Order in Council today, but given the Supreme Court is working as fast as it can anyway on a relatively tight deadline, it would have been a bit churlish of us to push that."

Mr Key also confirmed he had seen further reports on state-owned coal miner Solid Energy in the last fortnight, following the resignation of its long-time chief executive Don Elder, and that it was not fit for partial sale "any time soon".


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Churlish? Dictatorial. Wise choice o great leader.


Could we first sell the Supreme Court, please? I'm sure North Korea or even Fiji needs a new one.


Why not? Democracy has already been sold to the highest bidder: overseas fund investors. Next we'll have a secret trade tribunal to review our laws and regulations. Who needs a court system when the benevolence of multinationals shines so brightly over our future?


I haven't noticed democracy providing any of the goods and services we depend on. Instead, they are provided by private enterprise and private investment - either via markets or by confiscation by governments.

So our legal system should be there to support proper private property rights as well as civil liberties and freedom from crime against people and property. It is not there to invent new legal fictions and second-guess parliament. I have no idea how you can think that is in any way democratic, so perhaps you don't.


Alan, if you sell it to them we would be replacing them at the bottom of the enlightened nations performance table. Surely being at the bottom of any table is every Tory's worst nightmare.


Don't be silly. We already rent out the superannuated ones to any takers and most of the Pacific. This would just be a bulk lot suitably discounted for a one-way ticket. Replacement with an improved model would not be difficult.


I doubt whether there are any judges in NZ who possess one iota of business acumen or, nous, (which is precisely why you never go into business with a lawyer) God help us.


Paul, a bit of a sweeping generalisation there. I know several lawyers who are very commercial and they do run their own practices.

I problem ones I see are those who practice solely and get isolated or outside professional networks.

Same with my profession.


It's not the job of judges to possess business acumen. The more serious issue for our nation is the enormous number of Kiwi businessmen who possess not one iota of business acumen.


Just who is governing NZ?
The elected MPs, the High Court, the Environmental Court or the noisy minority?
Mr Key, make a decision and get on with it, why don't you?


John, I don't know if you've noticed, but nearly three out of four Kiwis asked think asset sales are a bad idea. This is hardly a noisy minority. History will judge Key's actions harshly. Bank on it.


Seems you missed the 2011 general election won by the Nats. What part of the mandate do you not understand?


WHAT 'mandate'?

The final vote on the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership Model) Amendment Act 2012, was 61 - 60

A party vote was called for on the question, That the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership Model) Amendment Bill be now read a third time.

Ayes 61
New Zealand National 59; ACT New Zealand 1; United Future 1.

Noes 60
New Zealand Labour 34; Green Party 14; New Zealand First 8; Māori Party 3; Mana 1.

[Pete(r) George - Dunedin North candidate - United Future (16,292) Says: February 15th, 2013, at 10:28pm]

"UF did not specifically campaign for the ‘mixed ownership model for the electricity companies and Air New Zealand’ because it was not UF policy."


Asset Sales Policy Announcement
10 October 2011

Kiwibank, Radio New Zealand and the water supply should be ruled out of any future asset sales programmes, UnitedFuture Leader Peter Dunne said today.

Speaking to the Auckland Rotary Club, he said that given that National has a manifesto that includes asset sales, New Zealanders need to start a proper debate on the future limits of those sales.

“To this point there has not been a proper national debate beyond National saying yes and Labour saying no.

“We need a conversation that is more detailed and drills down into what New Zealanders really think are acceptable bottom lines,” he said.

“New Zealanders, I believe, are not definitively pro-asset sales, but under certain conditions, it is no longer the bogeyman issue that Labour would have you believe.”

Mr Dunne said United Future’s role as a support partner is not just to contribute its own policies, but to help keep a government to a reasonable, centrist path.

........... "

In my considered opinion - the voting public of Ohariu were thus effectively misled by United Future and Peter Dunne on the issue of support for the 'Mixed Ownership Model' for State-Owned electricity assets and Air New Zealand.

In my considered opinion, United Future and Peter Dunne sold out the voting public of Ohariu by voting in support of the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership) Amendment Act 2012.

Had Peter Dunne kept faith with the voting public of Ohariu - the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership Model) Amendment Bill should have BEEN DEFEATED 60 - 61.

I thus believe that I am absolutely correct in my statement that THERE IS NO MANDATE FOR ASSET SALES - given that this minority National Government (which DID campaign on asset sales) has only 59 out of 121 MPs.

ACT did not specifically campaign on asset sales - but their support for privatisation is hardly a secret.

However -

"UF did not specifically campaign for the ‘mixed ownership model for the electricity companies and Air New Zealand’ because it was not UF policy"



Penny... Go occupy a paid rates bill, so those that do pay their fair share don't have to subsidise the likes of you.

You're almost as bad McCarten in unpaid taxes and dues to the Council for rates... Yet you try and portray credibility enough that you have a go at local body elections... Whilst expecting everyone else to pay for you.

You're almost overqualified in stupidity to join the Mana party though.


You mean 3 out of 4 unionists at the Labour Party conference...


Boolocks ! Populist lame thinking bollocks. If (and it is a very big if) the % you quote is even half true, then it is also true that 90% of them don't actually understand the issues at stake - and are probably incapable of balancing their own budgets. Bollock Bollocks Bollocks !


He has made a decision - to sell the assets the fastest way he can. Part of a democracy is that affected groups have an avenue of recourse to object, challenge or amend government decisions. It’s called court, and it's what makes society fair.

If you don't like that freedom of recourse you could always dye your hair black, don a grey suit and go live in north Korea - make sure you keep your head down, nod and grovel in submission to anyone in army uniform, work yourself to an early death and never think you are anything but an ant for the rest of your life.


The benefits of the MOM model and the associated benefits across numerous sectors/issues has been completely lost in National's PR silence when compared to the hype and populist propaganda the left have spoon fed the media, who hungrily gobbled the lot up without question ... as their huffing and puffing was all that could be heard.

The minority over-shouting those with the mandate, while the elected with the mandate kept quiet or had to 'defend and explain' while the left squealed and squawked to a hungry leftie MSM wanting something of interest for the 6 o'clock news.

Please promote the entire benefits of why asset rationalisation is needed and what will be replaced with the monies freed-up.

The vast majority of Labour/Green voters think Key is going to seek all power companies and give the money to his mates. That is what is spun on TV. And there's just a vacuum in reply. Which gets filled by another union flunkie telling the great unwashed NZ is being sold again.

Silence is not golden in this example. Tell us about the MOM model will reinvigorate the stock exchange and encourage foreign investment. The great unwashed don't understand, don't know and can only hear the likes of the CTU and education unions spinning their rhetoric.

Sell us the benefits to NZ Inc. Most have forgotten by now. Or the message was drowned out by the shrill bleating from the left.


I wonder if the continued very low international interest rates on NZ govt debt is giving National the opportunity to hold off any asset sales and go to the election in 2014 with "we listened" and with NZ Inc growing steadily get themselves another term on the Treasury benches.

At the same time get the "ownership" sorted once and for all and keep the ship on an even keel. The Greens and Labour are left without a plank to build an election on, unless they can convince the general public that printing $kiwi is a winner.

English will then start to really downsize the bureaucracy to balance his budget and most thinking NZers will understand that. Additionally, the tougher rules surrounding welfare payments will start to kick in. 20,000 off welfare = $270m less in welfare payments at least and an increase in PAYE tax with people working. And that $270m is per annum for many years to come.


You believe your own dreams mate. What are the 20,000 people coming off welfare going to do? There are no jobs...


Spartacus, there might be no jobs in some areas, but Christchurch and Auckland have plenty. As far back as I can remember, the idea in life is to go where the work is because that's where the money is. Those on welfare will be faced with ever tougher rules surrounding payments, and moving to a new location with some assistance will be an option.

Those who bleat that there not are actually saying "we won't work unless the job is near where I live and is what I want to do". Well, great if you can get away with it, but more and more of us who pay taxes believe that those who want to benefit from our generosity will have to shift to where the work is, and they will have to adapt to the work that is available.


Sounds like a North Korean-style government intervention to me. You propose building slave camps to house them as well? Some intelligent, innovative govt strategies for progress might help, but fat chance of that happening under the merchant banker.


Exactly Chris. The thousands of engineers and tradespeople who trained for years at university / polytechnics etc have all had to follow the work and move. Should be no different for the unemployed... Except they do have to pass a drug screening test to work in the construction sector... And as we've read in the MSM, numerous unemployed don't even attempt to try for this work ...because they would need to stop smoking the herb.

Welfare recipients should act like how you would receive a meal as an invited guest at someone else's dinner table. If you don't like what free food is put in front of you... leave it. Complaining you want better seating and other food, whilst abusing the host after scoffing everything only gets you ignored - since most can't be thrown out - and hopefully by breakfast time they would have learnt gratitude for all the free food... Because they should also be served up last nights cold leftovers... And if they dont like it... They don't have to eat it.

Complaining your free hand outs isn't enough is rather churlish to say the least.


With a tiny majority to govern (unlike the landslide victory National supporters bray about regularly in their usual self-delusional manner) John Key, etc, have an obligation to take the rest of us with him on contentious issues or he'll do a 1981 Muldoon and polarise the country. Or is it too late?


Ask not what your country can do for you....

Key/National told NZ Inc their intentions long before the last election and what would happen when voted back in with a mandate to do it.

NZ spoke. National won. Again. Mandate granted, despite MMP.

Get on with.


"Get on with it"
But I cannot agree with the left wing cry of:
"Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do your country for."


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