There are likely to be "significant consequences" to the timing of the partial sale of Mighty River Power and three other state-owned energy companies if the government is forced to delay a decision on whether to commence the Mighty River sale past the first week of September, the government says.
On Thursday afternoon it requested the Waitangi Tribunal issue a report by August 24 on how the sales might affect Maori water rights and potential Treaty of Waitangi claims in the future.
The Tribunal this week urged the government to hold off commencing the partial sale of Mighty River until it had issued the first stage of its report on hearings heard during July, which it said would come during September.
Finance Minister Bill English and SOE Minister Tony Ryall said on Thursday afternoon that to proceed with a Mighty River share offer in 2012, ministers would need to make decisions by the first week of September. That meant they needed the Tribunal's report by August 24 to give it time to consider the Tribunal's views.
“We would [decide whether to proceed] on the basis of all the information available to us at that time, including the Waitangi Tribunal’s memorandum of 30 July," English and Ryall said.
“However, ministers would welcome the opportunity to consider the Tribunal’s detailed findings, its recommendations and its reasoning, which we do not have at this stage," they said.
“The Tribunal expressed a view that there would be minimal or no delay to the share offer if it reported on stage one of its inquiry by the end of September. However, there are a limited number of windows each year in which a share offer can take place," English and Ryall said.
“Delaying a decision beyond the first week of September and losing the 2012 window for the offer would have significant consequences, not only for the Mighty River Power offer, but also in delaying the rest of the share offer programme over the next two years," they said.
“We have said consistently that we would welcome timely recommendations from the Tribunal. With that in mind, we have asked the Tribunal whether it is able to provide its recommendations and supporting reasoning by 24 August, so ministers are able to consider them alongside all other relevant information.”
The Government had written to the Waitangi Tribunal seeking further information on the Tribunal’s findings, recommendations and supporting reasoning with respect to its inquiry into national fresh water and geothermal resources.
“The Government wants to consider the Tribunal’s recommendations and the reasons behind them as part of its decision on the Mighty River Power share offer this year,” English and Ryall said.
“As we have said, we want to act in good faith and carefully consider the Tribunal’s recommendations," they said.
“However, we appreciate the Tribunal’s interim direction on 30 July did not make substantive findings on any of the issues it identified. So we have today asked the Tribunal to provide its recommendations and reasoning by 24 August."
(Updates first two pars to clarify govt wants report by August 24, updates with video.)