High Court – asset sales can go ahead


The High Court has ruled in favour of the Crown in the case over water ownership taken by the Maori Council.

Not surprisingly this verdict has been welcomed by Finance Minister Bill English and State Owned Assets Minister Tony Ryall:

“The High Court decision confirms the Government can proceed to sell up to 49 per cent of shares in four state owned energy companies, in accordance with the legislation passed by Parliament earlier this year,” Mr English says.

“The Government is firmly of the view that the partial sale of shares does not in any way affect the Crown’s ability to recognise rights and interests in water, or to provide redress for genuine Treaty claims.”

Mr Ryall says the Government’s share offer programme remains on track.

“The Government remains committed to an initial public offering of Mighty River Power Shares in the first half of 2013,” he says. “If the High Court decision is appealed, we hope this can be heard as soon as possible.

“The Government’s partial sale of shares in state owned enterprises is good for taxpayers, because we expect to generate between $5 billion and $7 billion in proceeds, which we will use to control debt.

“It is also good for New Zealand’s capital markets and it will improve the performance of the companies in the share offer programme.

“The Government will invest these proceeds in new public assets like modern schools and hospitals – and that’s money we don’t have to borrow from overseas lenders.”

I suspect the motivation for the case was at least in part opposition to the partial sales of assets in general rather than just being about the issue of Maori water rights in particular.

But whatever the motivation, the case has been a waste of time and money.

Scoop has the judgement here.

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