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Supreme Court dismisses Maori Council water rights appeal

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Latest News | Wednesday February 27 2013 15:15

Supreme Court dismisses Maori Council water rights appeal


It's back to the drawing board for the Maori Council after the Supreme Court ruled in the Government's favour in the water rights case.

It means the partial sale of the state-owned energy companies can go ahead.

The Court has dismissed the Council's attempt to block the asset sales.

LISTEN: Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper talks to Danny Watson about the Supreme Court's decision

Prime Minister John Key is delighted with the ruling.

"For the Government, it is a very positive day.

"We believe passionately in what we're doing; we believe this is the right step to take for New Zealand in terms of ensuring that these companies are well-managed, and that we can release capital and use that capital to buy other assets."

But Labour still wants the Government to back down on asset sales even though it's beaten off the legal challenge.

Leader David Shearer wants the Government to shelve its plans, saying a referendum will prove the public opposes its plans.

But he can't explain why the Government would choose a referendum when it has spent significant amounts of money on legal action to protect its position.

"If the Government wants to go against the will of New Zealanders, the overwhelming will of New Zealanders, then they do it on their own head."

Lawyer Donna Hall says the ruling has actually provided some very clear directions for the Waitangi Tribunal as it considers who owns water, because the court says the Crown has to honour the Treaty.

"The decision was extremely helpful, because what the court said was that the lower court was the one who got it wrong in saying that the principles of the Treaty didn't apply.

"There is a unanimous Supreme Court decision on that."

The Green Party is brushing off the failure of the legal challenge.

Co-leader Russel Norman says the outcome doesn't change the reasons for continuing to oppose asset sales.

"It doesn't make any fiscal sense, it doesn't make any economic sense, the people of New Zealand are deeply opposed to it.

"The Government shouldn't proceed with the asset sales programme, even though they did have a win today in the Supreme Court."

Photo / Getty Images

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