1 Feb 2012

National and Maori Parties in stand-off over asset sales

9:12 pm on 1 February 2012

National and the Maori Party remain in a stand-off over the transferral of treaty obligations to state-owned companies tagged for partial sale.

The Government has released a consultation document containing three options, none of which include requiring private shareholders to act in accordance with the Treaty.

The document says treaty protections would apply only to the Crown as the majority shareholder in the new law.

The Maori Party says the exclusion of private shareholders is unacceptable and has warned it could walk away from its confidence and support deal with the National-led Government.

The Prime Minister says he's been advised that binding the 49% of private shareholders to treaty obligations is just not feasible.

He has made clear that, in the law paving the way for the sales, Treaty protections would be restricted to the Crown as the majority shareholder.

Mr Key says, however, the disagreement between his Government and the Maori Party over the issue does not mean the relationship is in jeopardy and he is confident the Maori Party will remain part of the Government.

The State-Owned Enterprises Act, which was passed in 1986, contains two sections which deal with the Treaty of Waitangi.

Section 27 is about Treaty claims and section nine says the Crown must act in a manner that is consistent with the principles of the Treaty.

Hui to consider issue next week

A series of nationwide hui will be held next week for iwi to consider the three options put forward by the Government in its discussion document.

The document lays out three options for transferring treaty clauses into the new law.

They include a straight transfer of section nine of the State-Owned Enterprises Act, which requires the Crown to act in accordance with the Treaty.


The second option would be to include a more specific clause, detailing how the Crown would meet its treaty obligations.

The final option is to have no general treaty clause at all.

Finance Minister Bill English says the treaty itself only binds the Crown, and the three options reflect that fact.

He told Checkpoint says he's confident the issue will be resolved.

"I'm pretty optimistic that over the next three weeks as we consult a range of Maori interests we can find a satisfactory solution."

Turia criticises level of consultation over the new law

Meanwhile, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has criticised the level of Government consultation with her party prior to the hui.

She told Morning Report she is concerned there has been very little formal contact on the issue from the National Party.

She said the party could be satisfied that a reworked clause could give Maori satisfaction.