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PM to reveal 'complex' asset sale solution

The government will make "an announcement" about the sale of Might River Power later today, Prime Minister John Key confirmed this morning.

But the PM waffled when pressed for details, offering only "It’s quite a complex position and we have to lay everything out this afternoon."

Last week, Mr Key refused to rule out putting aside special shares for Maori.

Over the weekend, the Maori Council reiterated it would take legal action if the government pressed ahead with the sale of 49% of Mighty Rivery Power this month, ignoring a Waitangi Tribunal recommendation to pause the partial privitisation process.

This morning, Mr Key hinted his government saw such a legal challenge as inevitable.

"If the the Maori Council want to lodge an application in the High Court or Court of Appeal we can’t stop that," the Prime Minister said on TVNZ's Breakfast.

"It’s for the courts to decide whether they want to hear an application."

"Who knows?"
Asked if Maori Council High Court action could delay Mighty River's IPO, Mr Key said, "Well, who knows? Like any court process you have to work your way through things."

Last week, the Prime Minister said there are only two time windows for partial privatisations: March/April, and around September/October, owing to the timing of the companies' profit announcements and the need to hold a large public share float outside of traditional holiday periods.

On the question of whether the Mighty River float would still happen by Christmas, Mr Key said,"It’s a very complex web of things I  have to go through this afternoon and there are other actions that flow from that and I’m not solely in control of that but let’s just see what happens."

Will the government win?
Asked if the government would win a High Court case over water rights, the previously emphatic Prime Minister said, "Well we hope we would win."

Mr Key added, "You have to understand what they [the Maori Council] would be going to court for and it comes down to that point does the sale of shares alter the capacity to register rights and interests? The government’s view of that is no.

"The government’s view is also that no one owns water. That is quite different from the Maori Council view."

The Prime Minister said his government had recognised some rights and interests over the past four years. "So that’s things such as co-management of the Waikato River. There will be ome will believe Maori rights and interests are far more significant. People are free to have that view. That doesn’t mean my government or any other has to recognise those rights and interests unless they’re proven I guess."

He added his perennial question, "Does selling a minority stake in an SOE in any way impinge the rights of Maori to register those rights and interests? The government’s view is 'No it doesn’t'."

The situation has been further clouded by a poor result at Solid Energy last week amid tumbling coal prices, and the potential threat that huge Might River Power customer Noske Skog will halve its consumption. At the same time, Rio Tinto is reconsidering the future of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter in Bluff. The smelter uses around 14% of New Zealand's electricity. Cynics see a degree of gamesmanship by both companies, which could be exploiting the need for a quick resolution to secure better power pricing.

Maori Party relations
Asked if the Maori Party would like what he had to say tis afternoon, Mr Key said "They may have a different view. but that would not be new."

National's coalition partner won some arguments, and it lost some. The party had to ask, "Is their position better and the lot of s the lot of Maori better for them being part of the government than outside the tent? And my view is yes," Mr Key said.

Comments and questions

I ts raining okay , So a weather front from Australia has dumped rain on us... NZ THAT IS ....
I will put as much of this damn expensive rain in a Jug and Sell it Back to the Aussies , But I will ask Julia first IF THATS OKAY
BUT JULIA SAID OH NO it's not ours it came from Taiwan and China that Rain, !,

The lawyers' payola.

LOLs Key is well and truly skewered on this one. Show your balls man and make cuts elsewhere (ie WFF, student interest free loans) rather than selling the family silver.

Keys a ditherer. Tell me again how hew was suppossed to once have been a business mogul? What a limp lettuce.

u wanker

John Key plays his cards well

Key and Bill English will have alternative ways of funding the deficit and allowing for any delays with the SOE asset sales via the current process.

Watch this space - he will deliver and in the best interests of NZ Inc
Never undersestimate Key and English - they play the long game well and are prepared to take the flak in the meantime.

Surely student loans, Super, muddling along with the Maori Party on asset sales etc etc are all textbook cases of failing to think beyond the next election?

I cant agree. John Key is an appeaser and the only "long game" he is playing is a comfy retirement home in Hawaii.

The only 'doctoring' this individual has been doing is spin doctoring on behalf of the Nats. Key (maybe less so English) has no vision further than the next election. It is exactly because they have no plan B (in terms of sorting out the deficit) should the asset sales fail to go ahead that they are clinging so desperately to it.

A good way of helping to cut the defict, is to halt the TOW gravy train.

I have read where Obama is already planning his retirement there too.
Obama and Key could become neighbours.
But it looks like Obama will be there first, in January, which is why he has staffers and friends househunting already for him.

I wish I could afford to retire in Hawaii, but John Key already could before he was PM. Its a job he does for free. Your comment is a cheap shot from some one who is ill imformed.

That'll be the $70bn deficit, fixed with $2bn from asset sales?

I was in Hong Kong last week and Bill English was on Hong Kong TV being interviewed.
He was almost begging for more Chinese money to be invested / loaned to NZ.
I wonder if this is to make up the shortfall if the Asset sales do not go ahead or are postponed?

Key is just acting like a regular NZ politician. Pretty sound but not particularly visionary ideas, and overly cautious in implementing them.

It's only in hindsight we can appreciate how unique Lange/Douglas/Prebble were in driving through major change and selling major assets without endless side-deals and compromises.

..because previous Labour governments were wanting to press charges of Sedition against anyone who spoke up against Labour - and they had their bully-boy, renta-thugs to help keep the masses in the unions quiet...

Nothing to see here... just do as we say - not as we do... and you will have showers as we dictate, same with lightbulbs...

They sales were a disaster - well below market value!
They sold Govt Print to G Hart for 1.4x Earnings - WTF!

All this Treaty troughery does nothing for racial relations.
These greedy grasping Treaty troughers give the image that Maori constantly have their hands out and in our wallets when most Maori are like the rest of us and just get on with their lives like everyone else.
They probably won't see any money either, a rich brown table will keep it all for themselves.
It was the same with David Taupiri and his plans announced yesterday to make Maori language compusory in our schools and have home insulation offered free to Maori at the expense of everyone else.
It is high time Key grew some and stood up to these racists wrecking our country with their seperatist nonsense.

Best privatisation will be Air NZ.

Soon as there's another GFC and/or the price of jet fuel soars, the govt will have to buy most of the shares back again to bail it out and ensure the flow of tourists.


Rinse and repeat.

Some people say once an asset is sold it's gone for good. We wish. Like Kiwi Rail they come boucing back.

Ok , so get HELEN back to do some more paintings we can sell and raise some cash .

P*ssing in the wind situation.

Neither Key or English need their jobs - but they are both giving up so much of their personal freedom to help make this great country even greater for the next generation and beyond. They aren't short sighted - reacting to every wim of the left - but are carefully sorting through the rubbish left behind after 9 long years of Labour & the Greens & the biggest natural disaster NZ has ever faced which almost distroyed our second biggest city - and the biggest global meltdown since the 1930's! Give these guys a break - NZ is now in the top 25 economies on the Globe and climbing! Social help to the poor and sick can only come from cash - and that cash has to be earned through industry - there is no other way. More industry = more jobs = more cash & tax for all!

They have done nothing but fiddle on the edges. No RMA reform, No WFF reform, No major tax reform (except looking after there mates), No repeal of the Carbon tax and worse not stopping the 1,000 educated kiwi's leaving each week to Aussie instead replacing them Asian migrant who fail to integrate.

Bollocks. Any govt that increases taxes during a recession show little understanding of business and economics. My business has just suffered its worst, month of trading in x 3 years. The increase in GST to 15% was the worst thing this Govt did to damage our economy. Now fast-forward to Auckland, where most business and households have just been wacked with rate increase s(ie tax upon a tax) and fuel prices at an all time high. How much do these 2 increases rake in extra raxes for the Govt alone?? There are no jobs and no growth, simply because people either don''t have any spare cash or, have closed their wallets. The Govt is sucking it all from the consumer's wallets by way of tax. The outlook is grim.

You are right. Tax increases are never good, and certainly not when times are tough.. Key lowered income tax, and while there was an increase in GST, almost all tax payers were better off. So it's hard to understand your claim that increasing GST damaged the economy. If you really believe that, then you must accept that things would be worse if he had done nothing. Spend a month or two wandering around other Western countries, and it might just dawn on you how well NZ has come through the GFC. Considering how the cards have been stacked against Godzone, this is a remerkable acheivement.

Suggested drinking game:

Scull each time Key says "So" during this afternoon's press conference

I'll drink each time he shrugs his shoulders. Bet I get legless first.

"Why'd ya have to go and make things so complicated ..."

This will be the make or break of Keys. If the Maori win we might as well forget about democracy in it's entirety. This is John's one and only chance to kick the Treaty Gravy Train into touch, so hard and so far away that it never rears its ridiculous head again. Otherwise, like it or not we are not ruled by the democratically elected National party but by the race based Maori party, and the Maori party knows it only too well.

Amazing that a PM can be so cavalier: from "I'm not totally in control" to "doesn't mean my governent has to recognise those rights unless proven."

Talk about a moral vacuum.

"Limp lettuce" is truly a fair comparison. Except JK's problem is not that he's spineless. It's that - as a political newcomer - he's clearly bewildered and out of his depth with such things as fair process and democratic representation.

Boooooooh C'mon ref what are you doing????

Totally ridiculous NZ is being screwed

Key has been nothing but a major disappointment. His failure can be traced to the most useless of all summits -- the February South Auckland Employment Talkfest, It achieved, nothing. He's all talk, appearing earnest. But nothing more than a Man of Straw. He maintains his position, only because Labour is in such hopeless disarray.

Great. News just out.... Govt has aceeded soverignty to a minority Maori group.

Great list of reasons from John Key about why "shares plus" for iwi is a bad idea .... so he's going to delay the sale for six months to discuss them.

What NZ needs is a leader with some steel in his/her spine.
The difficulty is where to find such a rare commodity.