The interim report from the Waitangi Tribunal won’t have surprised the government, but it will have confirmed some tough choices ahead.
As Vernon Small points out – the issue of ‘when’ is as crucial a factor as ‘what’ the final outcome is: ‘The Government's asset sales plans, for this year at least, are in trouble with a capital T. That's T for timing, T for tribunal, T for Treaty and T for title’ – see: Tribunal statement spells trouble for asset sale plans. Small thinks a Mighty River Power sale this year is looking ‘mighty unlikely’, especially if the Maori Council heads to court.
Although John Key is leaving open the option of ploughing ahead with the sales before the full report in September (see: Danya Levy and Kate Chapman’s Asset sale may occur before Waitangi Tribunal report – Key), John Armstrong thinks that is not likely.
Armstrong believes ‘to do so would look churlish, petty and overbearing. It would mean more friction with the Maori Party. It would run counter to National's tactic of downplaying any sense of concern about the question of water rights frustrating its privatisation plans’ – see: Tribunal's 'taihoa' squeezes timetable. It only puts off the day of reckoning, however.
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