English 'swings' both ways on Mighty River Power shares for iwi
"As long as they pay fair value for the shares what is the problem?"Featured comment
UPDATE 5.30pm: The Mixed Ownership Model bill passed at 5pm by 61 votes to 60, as expected. National MPs plus United's Peter Dunne and ACT's John Banks voted for the legislation.
Finance Minister Bill English is riding a dodgy see-saw over the possibility of holding back some Mighty River Power shares for Treaty of Waitangi settlements.
Earlier today Mr English suggested some of the 49% of shares in the state-owned company which are planned for sale later this year might need to be kept back by the government to settle any claims.
On his way to the House this afternoon he said: "There are no plans to set shares aside" for treaty settlements.
But then went on to concede it is "possible" the government might have to do so.
Mighty River Power owns a number of electricity generation assets at the upper end of the Waikato River and at Lake Taupo, and the local iwi, Ngati Tuwharetoa, has threatened legal action to stop the sale of the minority shareholdings in the company.
The mixed ownership model legislation – the State-Owned Enterprises Amendment Act 2012 and the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership Model) Amendment, to give it its full title – will be passed either later today or tomorrow.
The legislation outlines provisions for the share float of up to 49% of Mighty River Power and three other state-owned companies, Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand.
Prime Minister John Key also told Parliament this afternoon there are no plans to reserve shares for Ngati Tuwharetoa but added that "we live in a democracy" and the iwi could still challenge the legislation in the courts.