Friday, July 13, 2012

Sophistry from the government on water

The government presented its case on water to the Waitangi Tribunal this morning. The short version? Selling SOEs doesn't matter:

Lawyer Paul Radich opened submissions for the Crown by saying it agrees Maori do have interests in fresh water and geothermal resources.

Referring to Mighty River Power, he said the Crown was not selling 49% in water, but rather shares in a company.

Mr Radich told the tribunal that in order to stop the share sale in Mighty River Power it would have to be proven that this would be the only way to establish fresh water rights for Maori.

This is pure sophistry, which carefully elides the key point that the company they're planning to sell part of owns rights to use the water - rights would no longer be available as redress should a Treaty claim succeed. If this sounds familiar, its because its exactly the same situation we saw in New Zealand Māori Council v. Attorney-General (1987) over land. And it should have exactly the same solution: no sale until Parliament protects the right of redress.