30 Jul 2012

PM to 'carefully consider' Waitangi Tribunal report

8:59 pm on 30 July 2012

The Prime Minister says he will carefully consider a Waitangi Tribunal direction to hold off on the partial sale of state-owned assets.

The Tribunal has recommended the partial sale of state-owned assets should not go ahead until its inquiry into water rights is finished.

The final decision will be made in September, the same month in which shares in the first of four state-owned energy companies are expected to go on the market.

John Key says the Tribunal report will now be carefully considered and advice will be sought from Crown Law and the Treasury.

Mr Key says the Government has also committed to discussing its stance with the Maori Party before giving a public response.

The Maori Council brought the case, arguing the Government had decided to offer minority shareholdings in some state-owned hydro-power plants, and that access to water was being given away.

The Tribunal had spent almost two weeks hearing submissions at Waiwhetu Marae in Lower Hutt earlier this month, from both tangata whenua and the Crown.

The Tribunal says problems raised during the first part of its water hearing warranted measured consideration in the interests of the Maori-Crown relationship, and of all New Zealanders.

It has found that Maori proprietary interests to water resources is a serious problem that needs to be resolved.

Lead lawyer for the Maori Council Felix Geiringer says it is a great decision for the claimants.

But he says it is not a final decision, and there is no guarantee that Monday's interim recommendation will be followed by a further suggestion that the Crown should freeze sales of state assets.

The Green Party says the Government should wait for the Waitangi Tribunal's final recommendation before selling any state assets.

Co-leader Russel Norman says there is no need for the Government to rush the sale through and it should allow the Tribunal the opportunity to air its views.

Mr Norman says all the tribunal is asking for is time to consider the issue properly.