24 Feb 2012

Maori Party claiming victory over SOE bill

10:44 pm on 24 February 2012

The Maori Party says its main concern about asset sales legislation was to ensure there was a Treaty clause - and not whether private shareholders would be covered.

The party is claiming victory after the Government confirmed on Thursday that a Treaty clause of some nature will be included in a new State-Owned Enterprises Act.

The Government has been consulting with Maori about whether to transfer Section 9 of the act to the new legislation. This general clause requires the Crown to act in a manner consistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Finance Minister Bill English says there will be a clause reflecting the concept of the existing Treaty clause in new legislation, but it will only bind the Crown, not the 49% of private investors.

The Maori Party says it can live with that, despite initially arguing that all shareholders should be bound by Treaty obligations.

Labour says the Maori Party is hypocritical, co-operating with the Government after campaigning against asset sales.

New Zealand First says the Maori Party has sold out its voters and that the MPs are just looking out for their own interests.

The Maori Party says having shareholders of partially privatised state assets bound by the Treaty would have been nice, but the facts are the Government had enough strength in Parliament to get its policies through without its support.

Co-leader Pita Sharples told Morning Report on Friday he would always have liked there to be a Treaty clause affecting private shareholders.

Dr Sharples says it is important for the Maori Party to stay at the table with the Government.

Mana Party critical

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira says the Maori Party should still be prepared to walk away from its support agreement with the Government if Treaty provisions are not transferred exactly to the new SOE legislation.

Mr Harawira says none of the Maori Party MPs came to any of the consultation hui on the matter and they hid while urging Maori to fight.

Mr Harawira says the Maori Party said they wanted Section 9 of the State-Owned Enterprises Act transferred "in its entirety".

If that does not happen, he says they have to walk, or they will forever be known as "big talkers but slow walkers".