Using partial floats of state owned enterprises for Treaty settlements appears off the agenda.
Papers released this afternoon by Finance Minister Bill English show the government is putting the prospect of any such settlements outside the float of up to 49% of Mighty River Power, Genesis Energy, Solid Energy and Meridian Energy.
“Some iwi who have not yet settled may want to request shares in mixed ownership companies as part of their commercial redress,” the advice on the mixed ownership model notes.
“Shares will, however, be readily available for purchase on the stock exchange. It would be straight-forward enough for the Government to purchase shares on the day with any cash that forms part of the settlement package, but equally it will be possible for iwi to purchase shares themselves. The latter would seem much preferable because it would afford iwi greater freedom to decide exactly how their money is used, and would be less likely to slow down the settlement process.”
The government also appears to be trying to move the increasingly thorny issue of water resources outside the mixed ownership model process. Three of the four companies have water generation plants but these come under other laws and in any case the water itself is not owned by any of the companies.
“Interests in water are subject to Resource Management Act 1991 processes and existing historical settlements such as the Waikato River settlement. Any arrangement for managing and governing water in a Treaty settlement will continue."
“Generators access water through water consents issued by regional councils for a limited time…They do not own water. This applies for all generators regardless of whether they are publicly or privately owned, and will remain so under mixed ownership.”
The advice also sheds light on the backdrop to the row over the past 48 hours between the Maori Party and National over removal of the companies from the State Owned Enterprises Act and therefore from the coverage of that act’s section nine, which states nothing in the Act allows the government to act contrary to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
It is pointed out that since that legislation was passed in 1986, “general Treaty clauses” such as section nine are no longer used but more specific clauses are included in all manner of other legislation – the most notable being the Resource Management Act.
“Recent discussions on rights and interests in foreshore and seabed, water policy and radio spectrum rights with Maori have been dealt within this broader, framework of cooperation and do not rely on section nine. In addition, any future Treaty claims fall as an obligation on the Crown not the company.”
The government is to consult with iwi over coming weeks about the mixed ownership model listing process.
Wed, 01 Feb 2012