Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Tribunal: Govt's request to speed up decision inappropriate

Finance Minister Bill English. Photo / Greg Bowker
Finance Minister Bill English. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Waitangi Tribunal has said the Crown was acting inappropriately by trying to interfere in its decision making, and has issued a reminder of the importance of judicial independence - but has agreed to a compromise to give a short version of its findings by the August 24 deadline issued by the Government.

The Tribunal's chief judge Warren Isaac has now issued the Tribunal's response to the Government request for it to issue its final report on water rights and proposed asset sales by August 24 rather than September - if it wanted those findings to be considered before the Government went ahead with the partial float of Mighty River Power.

In the response, Judge Isaac said the Waitangi Tribunal would endeavour to have an interim, truncated report with the Government by the August date and release the full report in September as planned.

However, the Government said that it needed the report by August 24 or it could go ahead without considering it.

Finance Minister Bill English has claimed that waiting beyond then could delay the entire asset sales programme over the next two years because it would mean the Mighty River Power float could not go ahead until next year.

The report is expected to cover issues of whether the sale of Mighty River Power would affect the Crown's ability to recognise Maori rights, and how any potential breach of those rights might be recognised.

Judge Isaac also said the Crown had acted inappropriately by trying to amend its own evidence after last month's hearings, and for asking the Tribunal to consider altering its own decisions.

The comment referred to the Waitangi Tribunal's direction for the sale of Mighty River to be put on hold until after it reported back on the Maori Council's urgent claim for a delay until water and geothermal rights were worked out.

"We also record the need to retain judicial independence and to maintain the separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive.''

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 20 Sep 2014 18:43:52 Processing Time: 492ms