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The Maori Council is once again confident it can put a halt to National’s partial asset sales plan, despite December’s High Court rejection.
It would say that, but, nevertheless, it will be an uphill battle for the council to convince the Supreme Court it should intervene.
Last month, the council was given permission to take its application for review straight to the Supreme Court, leapfrogging the Court of Appeal in the process.
Doubtless, much of the council's argument is likely to be based around the yet-to-be-specified "principles of the Treaty" and the fanciful notion theTreaty is New Zealand's "founding document" – when it is no such thing.
The two-day hearing gets under way today before Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias, a known Waitangi Treaty sympathiser, and Justices John McGrath, William Young, Susan Glazebrook and Robert Chambers.
The Supreme Court says the single ground for appeal is whether the High Court and Justice Ron Young were right to dismiss the application for review.
Felix Geiringer has been dropped as the council’s lead lawyer and will instead assist Queen’s Counsel Colin Carruthers (68).
The Waikato River and Dams Claims Trust and the Poukani Claims Trust will also be represented at the hearing.
Confident of a favourable outcome
Maori Council deputy chairwoman and former Maori party MP Rahui Katene says the council is confident of a favourable outcome.
However, that is what they said last time.
“We’ve got really good legal advice and we are confident this bench has a lot of experience – not only in treaty issues and Maori issues in general, but also in the law – and that they’ll be able to look at it a lot wider than what one judge was able to do before,” Ms Katene told NBR ONLINE.
She says it is a very technical argument with a “narrow base”.
“The lawyers have got all the submissions in and it’s just a matter of making the oral submissions today and answering any questions the judges have.”
Although Ms Katene is unsure when the decision would be delivered, she is hopeful it will come out relatively efficiently, to meet the government’s timetable, which includes plans to sell Mighty River Power shares in the first half of this year.
That is if the decision goes the government’s way.
Justice Ron Young took less than a month to reject the Maori Council’s initial application.
He essentially found the case and the arguments put forward had no legal basis for success.
Justice Young said he was satisfied the Crown’s commencement decision, amendment to the constitution of the Mighty River Power decision, and that the sale of Mighty River shares were not reviewable.
He has also found there are no grounds to review the government’s moves to transfer all four state owed enterprises, including Mighty River Power, from an SOE to a mixed ownership model.
Justice Young said there was also no breach of the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu Claims (Waikato River) Settlement Act 2010 and the sale of shares was not a sale which required the crown to engage with Waikato-Tainui.