The High Court hearing of the Maori Council's bid to halt the sale of Mighty River Power next year ended in Wellington today with Justice Ronald Young saying he was likely to issue his decision before Christmas.
The council and its co-applicants argued ministers will be in breach of their Treaty of Waitangi obligations under Section 9 of the State Owned Enterprises Act when they bring into force legislation that moves Mighty River from that legislation to the Public Finance Act.
During her closing arguments this morning Helen Cull, QC for the Waikato River and Dams Claims Trust, challenged Crown lawyer David Goddard's submissions that by enacting the legislation, ministers were only carrying out the will of Parliament which had already passed the law. That meant their actions were not reviewable or "justiciable" by the court he said.
Ms Cull also challenged the Crown's view there was no connection or "nexus" between the sale of shares in Mighty River and the Government's ability to make redress for any residual Maori proprietary rights and interests in water beyond the "shares plus" concept identified by the Waitangi Tribunal this year.
Following consultation with iwi that would be affected by the sale, the Government rejected the "shares plus" proposal as unworkable.
Justice Young said he expected to issue his judgement before Christmas. But given both Prime Minister John Key and the Maori Council are likely to appeal if the court finds against them, Justice Young said he expected his decision was unlikely to the final word on the matter.
"I'm a bus stop on the way to the ultimate destination", he told the court.By Adam Bennett Email Adam