Treaty obligations to stay in SOE sales law

23:10, Feb 22 2012

The Government has indicated it will keep the Crown's Treaty of Waitangi obligations in new legislation allowing for the sale of four state owned energy companies.

Submissions closed today and Finance Minister Bill English held the last consultation hui on the issue on Monday.

The Maori Party threatened to walk away from its confidence and supply deal with National after it was revealed the Government was considering not transferring Section 9 of the State Owned Enterprises Act to the new legislation.

Section 9 requires the Crown to act in a manner consistent with the principles of the Treaty.

Prime Minister John Key said the clause could not be expected to apply to the 49 per cent of private shareholders that the companies will have.

English said that, following the consultation period, it became clear that Maori wanted the clause retained.

"Cabinet is yet to decide the exact details of the new legislation, but in the interests of working towards a satisfactory solution we've indicated to the Waitangi Tribunal and the iwi Leaders Group the direction of our thinking."

Early indications were that the Government would include a provision "reflecting the concepts" of Section 9.

The final decision will be made by Cabinet in coming weeks.

English said the Government had also told Maori that the partial sale of state-owned enterprises would not prejudice iwi rights or interests in water.

That will be dealt with through a separate process, he said.

"We've been clear all along the Government won't walk away from its Treaty obligations. We entered this process with an open mind and we've listened closely to the views that have been aired."