24 Oct 2012

PM says November hearing good for Crown

5:30 pm on 24 October 2012

Prime Minister John Key says having a date for a substantive hearing on the partial sale of Mighty River Power is good from the Crown's point of view, as it will allow the matter to be settled by early next year.

The Maori Council wants the High Court to review the sales process, and had been seeking an injunction until that had been completed.

A hearing was to have taken place on Tuesday, but instead the Government agreed to delay an Order in Council removing Mighty River Power from the State Owned Enterprises Act.

A substantive hearing has now been set for 26 November.

Mr Key says the November hearing will mean the court action is over and done with by early next year, in time for the planned share float.

Labour Party leader David Shearer says he hopes the Maori Council's legal challenge will stop the Government's partial asset sales process.

Labour opposes the sales and Mr Shearer says anything that will stop the sale of state owned enterprises is a good thing.

He says it was inevitable the matter would go to court, but the National-led Government was determined to press on.

Mr Key says the Government will look at taking the court action over Mighty River Power straight to the Court of Appeal, or the Supreme Court.

He said any court action would need to be completed by next March, if the Government is to stick to its current timetable.

No legal aid - PM

John Key says that if the Maori Council cannot raise enough money to wholly fund its court action over Mighty River Power he doubts it would be eligible for legal aid.

Legal aid is awarded for certain types of criminal and civil cases, and depending on factors such as income and the value of assets owned by the applicant.

Mr Key says he doesn't believe the Maori Council would be eligible.