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Mighty River order-in-council not to be signed today – court hearing Nov 26

UPDATE 1.20pm:

Order-in-council aproving SOE asset sales will not be signed today, Crown lawyer David Goddard QC, has told Wellington High Court.

In a statement just released deputy prime minister Bill English says theGovernment welcomed the High Court’s decision to allocate an urgent hearing in the week starting 26 November in relation to a judicial review of the Government’s decision to proceed with its share offer programme.

On this basis, Finance Minister Bill English says Cabinet has decided today to delay the Order in Council relating to Mighty River Power to accommodate the upcoming hearing.

“This doesn’t affect the timing of the Mighty River Power float, which remains a priority for the Government.

“Now that proceedings are filed and a fixture on the substantive issue has been allocated, the Government has decided to defer the making of that Order in Council until after the High Court hearing,” Mr English says.

More details soon.


Wellington High Court has set a tentative date to hear the Maori Council's case against the government's partial asset sales.

Justice Ronald Young has set aside four days from November 26 for the substantive hearing to oppose next year's scheduled sell down of Mighty River Power.

Crown lawyer David Goddard QC, council lawyer Felix Geiringer and Justice Young all acknowledged the urgency of the matter, given today's cabinet meeting to seek an order-in-council to transfer Mighty River Power from the State Owned Enterprises Act to the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership Model) Amendment Act 2012.

However, Justice Young said imposing any sort of interim relief against the sale is the least attractive option "by a large margin".

The case will resume just after lunch today, following the cabinet's meeting to decide whether or not to approve the order-in-council.

If it is approved it will then be sent to the executive council at 4pm to be officially signed off.

Justice Young said he could not understand why the order-in-council needed to happen this week.

He said if  the order was made, it would irretrievably affect the litigation and would have the consequence of limiting the Maori Council's rights.

One option raised by Mr Goddard, if the order-in-council was passed today, was to push out the start date of the order from October 26.

"But that's a decision for cabinet ... certainly not for me."

He said November's substantive hearing would be mostly based on legal, rather than factual, arguments.

Justice Young warned the outcome of this morning's hearing is dependent on cabinet's decision.

It is likely November's hearing would be before two judges.

Last week, finance minister Bill English said today's order-in-council would be the government’s first substantive step towards the sale.

He also challenged the Maori Council to launch their legal bid before the order-in-council, or not at all.


The Maori Council is taking the Crown to court this morning in a last-minute bid to thwart the partial sale of Mighty River Power.

At Wellington High Court, lawyers for the Maori Council will be seeking judicial review of the government’s plans to sell down its stake in Mighty River Power and two other energy companies, Meridian Energy and Genesis Power.

The council also wants an urgent hearing to stop the government from removing Mighty River Power from the State-owned Enterprise Act by passing of an order-in-council this afternoon.

Mighty River Power is expected to be transferred to the jurisdiction of the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership Model) Amendment Act 2012 when Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae signs an order-in-council at 3pm, which means it could be partially privatised.

Powerful iwi boss Mark Solomon has refused to back Maori Council legal action over partial asset sales.

"All it does is give the lawyers the new Mercedes every year," he said on TV One's Q+A programme on Sunday.

Read more about Mark Solomon’s interview on Q&A here.


Comments and questions

Parliamentary supremacy. Asset sales are being sold under their own piece of legislation. Fat chance that the courts will turn our whole system of government on its head.

and hopefully this court case will only cost teh Maori council rather than tax payers.

Totally agree but I reckon it was probably our money in the first place, such is life.

It's time the Maori Council and the Treaty tribunal realised that they are not the elected government of NZ.
People are sick and tired ot the continual attempts to bury the arms, up to the armpits, in the trough of imagined Treaty grieveances.

it's time for the national party to realise they dont have a mandate to sell assets built up over decades. they should come up with another plan to make some money, maybe not giving the wealthy such an easy tax ride for starters.

if it wasnt for nz exporting it's unemployment to australia, something john key promised to stop ( yeah , right), things would be even worse here.

How were those assets funded? By borrowing money.

What are National going to do with the proceeds of the sale of assets? Repay those borrowings.

Do the assets earn enough dividends over the long term to justify the borrowings? No.

I'm reasonably sure that I read something about asset sales in National's election campaign material. And a quick check online has shown me that National are currently the largest party in parliament. So not sure where you get the "don't have a mandate" point from - especially as I seem to remember that Labour and Greens campaigned against asset sales and are now in opposition.

Now it could be that a majority of people don't want asset sales but were willing to accept them in order to ensure that Labour and the Greens didn't get into power. But all that this effectively tells us is that they believe that asset sales are the lessor of two evils. But they still agreed with them, and National's budgeting requires them, so National do have a democratically conferred mandate to go ahead with the sales.

I do not remember electing the Maori Council to run the country!

True, but the Council should not be prevented from testing its legal position through the Courts/ Waitangi Tribunal - it's the place to challenge the Government's position - Parliament is always entitled to introduce legislation to change that position at a later date / ignore the Waitangi Tribunal.

Indeed it should be. The Treaty should be annulled and racial preference cleaned out of legislation.

Its high time all of New Zealand stood up against this minority continually claiming Treaty & said enough is enough

Okay, I agree but you first...

Up to the arm pits in the trough, I like that . Maori

It's is easy to see why Mark Solomon and ngai tahu have succeeded. They have invested wisely and made intelligent decisions instead of chasing a rainbow that never was.
Thanks you Mark for your gutsy statements.

Watch out for the drool, dripping off the lawyers' chins.

Assets Sales are a criminal act.

When will National get on with running the country and stop having to run every decision past the Maoris and the Waitangi Tribunal. All they care about is where they can clip the ticket next and where they can get the next hand out.

I thought the Government represented "ALL" New Zealanders, why is this racial divide being given any time of day. Come on Key show some backbone!

The sad thing is all those posting on here besides me are uneducated

I don t think maori realised at the time of the treaty contract how untrustworthy the other partner would be. The contract was broken badly by the settler government. Of course maori are still distrustful. Especially in light of the ignorant, racist comments in this forum. No one owns water. Who gives some the right to tse our rivers as drains then?

What other partner? The Treaty doesn't say anything about partnership.

It is reckless to sell any of the power cos especially when the future of the Tiwai point smelter is in doubt

Don't be silly. Investing in a company might be reckless. Holding cash instead is certainly not.