Helen Clark maybe did us a favour by denying the Maori Council a chance to now head for London

So where can the Maori Council turn next in its vexatious efforts to nobble your hard-working government’s efforts to flog off a stake in Mighty River Power?


There was a time when their lawyers would be suggesting they head for London and the Privy Council.

But the Clark Government put an end to that in her ill-considered efforts to reduce this country’s links with the Mother Country, the Monarch and all that…

Maori voters – if they happen to sympathise with the Maori Council and fancied their chances before the law lords – should remember that, next time they go to the polls.

The good news, of course, is for all clear-thinking people in this country who had no truck for what the Maori Council was up to.

This obviously excludes lefties and greenies.

Stuff has reported it here.

The Government sale of a 49 per cent stake in state owned power companies is able to proceed after the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal lodged by the Maori Council.

The Maori Council sought to delay the sale of shares in Mighty River Power until issues over water rights were resolved.

In today’s ruling, heard before a packed courtroom, Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias said the court was unanimous on all issues.

She said the sale of a stake in Mighty River Power would not be in breach of Tainui Waikato settlement.

She had earlier stated that the court was “prepared to accept that privatisation may limit the scope to provide some forms of redress which are currently at least theoretically possible”.

“But in assessing whether this amounts to “material impairment”, regard must be had to (a) the assurances given by the Crown, (b) the extent to which such options are substantially in prospect, (c) the capacity of the Crown to provide equivalent and meaningful redress, and (d) the proven willingness and ability of the Crown to provide such redress.”

Alf won’t be at home to celebrate this victory for common sense down at the Eketahuna Club.

He will take some of his parliamentary mates up to Bellamys for a noggin or three, however.

They will drink to the failure of the Maori Council lawyers to persuade the Supreme Court that a material impairment arose from the proposed sale of shares in Mighty River Power.

Mind you, they will lament the court’s decision there should be no order as to costs.

The Chief Justice explained –

“While the appellants have failed as to the ultimate result, they nonetheless succeeded on an important point of principle, namely that the Crown was bound to comply with the principles of the Treaty before deciding to sell the shares.”

Stuff reminds us that the action was brought to the Supreme Court after High Court Judge Ronald Young – splendid fellow – rejected a bid by the council and other Maori groups.

He said decisions made by Cabinet, which would allow the Government to sell up to 49 per cent of a series of State Owned Enterprises, was carrying out the will of Parliament and therefore could not be reviewed by the courts.

Damned right.

The only thing to be said about what happened next is that a bit of short-circuiting took place.

The appeal of that ruling bypassed the Court of Appeal and went to New Zealand’s highest court, so as to fit within the Crown’s timetable for the sales.

With that timetable in mind, of course, perhaps we should be grateful the Privy Council is no longer on the list of places for aggrieved litigants to try to plead their case next.

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