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Mighty River sale on hold

Written By: - Date published: 2:32 pm, October 23rd, 2012 - 28 comments
Categories: infrastructure, Maori Issues, privatisation, Privatisation, water - Tags: , , ,

As expected, the High Court has recommended a hold on the sale of Mighty River Power. 3 News reports:

Mighty River Power sale delayed by High Court

The Government’s asset sales plan has again hit turbulence with Cabinet delaying the removal of Mighty River Power from the State Owned Enterprises Act.

The High Court indicated this morning the Government should hold off on starting the sale process for the company so the issue [Maori claims to water rights] can be fully thrashed out in court.

The Government has heeded that advice. The process to partially privatise the company was planned to officially begin today with Cabinet’s approval followed by an order-in-council by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae. However, in the High Court at Wellington today, Justice Ronald Young advised the Government to hold off and get the issue sorted in court beforehand.


28 comments on “Mighty River sale on hold”

  1. karol 1

    It looks like the government is hoping on the Maori Council not getting enough funding to continue with, and/or help with their case:

    The Prime Minister doubts the Maori Council would be eligible for legal aid if it cannot raise enough money to wholly fund its court action over Mighty River Power.

    • lprent 1.1

      So they should setup a account for automatic donations. I can provide a monthly donation in the order of $50-100 (maybe more) for a year or so. It doesn’t take too many people with such an automatic payment to provide a fighting fund.

      I’m pretty sure that I can convince a few others that it’d be one of the more effective ways to influence public policy in NZ.

      Not to mention that I really detest the idea that money and not being rich should be a constraint on access to the law.

      • lprent 1.1.1

        Umm I see that the government wants to push the speed of the case. I’d guess that is to make sure that the Maori Council doesn’t have time to raise money.

        I suspect that the courts will take a dim view of that in their process.

        But I think that helping with the fundraising might become something that the coop here might get interested in involved with. I’ll ask around…

        • Foreign Waka

          Influencing Public Policy by providing funds for the influencer means that who ever has the most money wins and hence the system would be utterly corrupt. Perhaps it already is if it allows such thing. The law is applicable to everyone and I belief you mean access to legal representation, which I am certain is not a problem.
          Talking about legality and rights,ownership of the Powerstations belong to ALL NZlaenders and thus any sale should result in a shareholding distribution to those who have paid tax – if the Government keeps 51% then those shares need to go to the rightful owner. Any Revenue from the 49% is the public investment in infrastructure. People eldgible had to have paid tax for at least 20 years or are born NZlaenders under the age 40. Shares are distributed at equal amounts and will help with the receipiants future retirement funding. Bank depsit rates are of no use. This would be fair, reasonable, accountable and transparent. Personally, not selling at all would be the best solution.
          As for water rights, this is as if someone lays claim to the heavens. Nuff said.

        • seeker

          Totally with you on this lprent. Rang various people to suggest this myself last week, but unfortunately did not get too far. I am sure you will be far more successful and I will be happy to donate.
          I can’t believe that the government will use taxpayers money, which should be used for the good of all, to fight its own people in court over its perverted idea of the “right” to sell off our precious utilities which should also be used for the welfare of all, not the profit of the few and foreign few at that. I don’t want my taxes to be used for such a reason, especially as the Maori Council and possibly many other Kiwis, are not allowed to use their own tax money to defend themselves
          (legal aid).
          Insane to think that we, the majority of Kiwis, are in the hideous position of having to fight our own government to stop it virtually attacking us and pillaging our essential utilities. Surreal.

      • infused 1.1.2

        What of all the Maori settlements? I’m sure they could all throw some money at this… You know, maybe putting some money where their mouth is?

        • mac1

          Mate, we non-Maori have got off lightly considering what was lost, what was claimed and what has been settled so far. And more ethically, why should Maori have to pay for in court what is being taken off them, and us, by this rorting goverment?

          We should be grateful to Maori for spearheading this initiative. Lprent, where do we sign up?

          • lprent

            Good question…. I will have a hunt around tonight

            • seeker

              Thanks lprent.

              • mac1

                And thanks from me too. At smoko today with my boss, two employees of an organisation that we were doing a job at and a fellow worker, we discussed asset sales.

                None were for it. Indeed, a dinner I attended along with National party members had the Nats agreeing as well, and they introduced the topic. Our local Grey Power is collecting signatures still in the office. This is still a live issue, and a killer for the Nats. They would lose very little face if they stepped back from the sales. After all, is not opposition to them in a considerable majority?

            • lprent

              Sorry got home at 2100 with a wee job to do…

  2. tc 2

    Still like to see more in the MSM about the tanking power demand from Rio Tinto’s Tiwai Point and Norske Skogg’s Kawerau against the general backdrop in the decline of manufacturing.

    All to easy to get diverted into this issue, valid though it is, it’s solvable whereas a falling demand from large scale power users reshapes the market.

    • Rod Oram had a fascinating article in the SST which does not appear to be on line.

      Essentially the Chinese have been building a number of highly efficient smelters to create bauxite from large deposits they have.  Some of the smelters are twice as efficient as Tiwai Point.

      Oram thinks we should negotiate to allow it to be closed in a civilized manner.

      But there is no way that anyone would buy shares in any power company with 15% of the market potentially being dumped on the market any time soon. 

  3. Treetop 3

    Yes the koha for legal fees needs to flow thick and fast.

    Just as well the courts are not run by the government yet, as the government would get their way without a fair hearing and there would be no natural justice.

    • Foreign Waka 3.1

      Natural justice? Or a state with a functional law system. Former will make this country to a backwater in no time, latter will guaranty a civil society. This is not to be mistaken with politics.

      • North 3.1.1

        You need to understand the true meaning of “natural justice” there FW.

        It means a fair hearing with all parties accorded the opportunity to know and answer the charges/assertions of the other side in the matter in dispute.

        You’re calling a legal system which denies natural justice, sees its as dangerous, “functional” ?

        Get real. It’s you whose smearing things with stupid politics.

        • Foreign Waka

          Firstly, all the articles published here are about politics, so lets get that one out of the way. Secondly, to use natural justice as an argument would mean that an event precipitated the complaint that could be called unilateral wrongdoing. Just to point out, Mr Key made very clear about his intentions and the fact that a win of last election would therefore give him the mandate to sell the Power stations.
          Since the majority of people voted for him and/or his declared coalition partner, perhaps in an attempt to enable other advantages via the latter, it stands to reason that no “hoodwinking” per se was going on.
          I personally have far more confidence in the NZ legal system then its political one.
          To try to reverse a decision that was based on the legal vote of so many will be very difficult unless a new election is called.
          Maori Council and Party had more insight into the issue then any other party well ahead of the elections and yet, choose to advocate for the Government that proposed the sale of Power stations. Go figure.
          Invoking natural justice is like saying – woops, did not want to press that button, was not considering the consequences. Alternatively, it could also be seen as an opportunistic step.
          I am saying all this because I belief that no matter what, the law has to be upheld. Equally, anyone having read my comments to this issue is aware that I utterly disagree with the sale of the power stations and even more so the flogging off of an asset that was paid for by ALL NZlanders. And I stand by my words unless you can show me that the law was broken, natural or otherwise.

  4. http://www.3news.co.nz/Switch-power-companies—asset-sales-protest/tabid/1607/articleID/273748/Default.aspx

    ‘Switch power companies’ – asset sales protest
    Tue, 23 Oct 2012 2:23p.m.

    The protest on Albert Street (Photo: Imogen Crispe)
    By Imogen Crispe

    A protest in Auckland today encouraged New Zealanders who use Mercury Energy to switch power companies to help stop asset sales.

    Activist Penny Bright set up banners outside the Mighty River Power offices in Albert Street and with the help of about five people handed out leaflets about her ‘switch off Mercury Energy campaign’.

    The protest is in response to the Government announcement that Mighty River Power will be the first state-owned asset to be sold as part of the Government asset sales, and coincides with a High Court case held in Wellington this morning.

    Ms Bright says if enough people stop using Mercury Energy, which is operated by Mighty River Power, its value will decrease and potential investors will be put off.

    “We are recommending people to switch to publically owned companies.”

    She encourages people to go to the Government-supported website powerswitch.org.nz to find out how to change power companies.

    Ms Bright says the majority of people won’t be able to afford to buy shares in companies like Mighty River Power, and encourages those who can afford it, not to.

    “We are looking to thousands of New Zealanders doing the right thing and not buying into this sell off.”

    3 News



    The protest today outside the offices of Mighty River Power, 23-29 Albert St Auckland, was organised by the SWITCH OFF MERCURY ENERGY community group.

    Mercury Energy is 100% owned by Mighty River Power – the first of the electricity State Owned Enterprises up for ‘partial privatisation’ under the recently passed Mixed Ownership Model Act (for which this minority National Government – with only 59 out of 121 MPs – was dependent on the vote of John Banks – ACT MP for Epsom Greens and Peter Dunne – United Future MP for Ohariu).

    We are calling on Maori and Pakeha – ALL New Zealanders, to UNITE and to STOP the sale of Mighty River Power by ‘switching off Mercury Energy’!

    There is precedent for this ‘PEOPLE POWER’ action.

    Back in 2008, Contact Energy (already privatised) doubled Director’s fees and raised prices 12%. In 6 months, over 40,000 customers ‘switched’ and Contact Energy’s profits halved.

    For more information on how to ‘switch off Mercury Energy’ – and where to ‘switch’


    Penny Bright

    A Media Spokesperson


  5. Lloyd 5

    If the Chinese are making Aluminium by burning coal to make the electricity then any so-called efficiency is at the cost of global warming and that is a damn sight less efficient than the hydro-powered Tiwai Point smelter.

  6. AmaKiwi 6

    Tonight asset sales died, killed by crashing share markets.

    I know most of you don’t think this is relevant. It is EVERYTHING.

    In a crash, demand for aluminium dries up. Cash to buy shares disappears. It’s over.

    Now we move to the really ugly bit: enduring a right wing government screwing more people into poverty in order to protect the frightened rich.

  7. AmaKiwi 7

    This isn’t going to be fun for anyone who owes money, whether they are the top 1% borrowing to buy more shares or the rest of us with car loans and credit card bills.

    It could get ugly, a repeat of 2008-2009, and maybe worse.

  8. Fortran 8

    I would not have thought that the Maori Council could not afford the $400,000 required –
    After all Donna Hall is one of the highest paid Treaty lawyers in the business – she could go Pro Bono.

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