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Howard's End: The Great Resource Grab

The National Party leader, Bill English, wants to establish nine new Marine Reserves to honour Sir Peter Blake, which set me wondering just how much more of New Zealand needs to be locked-up in national parks, reserves, and world heritage areas before the future of the country itself cannot be sustained. What future for the National Party? Maree Howard writes.

For two reasons, the National Party is in self-destruct mode.

Firstly, Bill English is living in cloud cuckoo-land with his suggestion for nine new marine reserves.

If he wants to honour the memory of Sir Peter Blake then it's very simple; - re-name the existing Viaduct Basin or the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. His suggestion, coming as it does from the leader of the so-called free enterprise party is laughable and, I don't believe, it is at all genuine.

It seems to me that his statement is an opportunistic foray to gain votes and most thinking people will see through the charade that it is.

He's forgotten that the most basic rule of marketing is to identify your point-of-difference. In the case of the National Party, there doesn't seem to be one.

That said, I always understood that sustainable management - the rest of the world calls it sustainable development - was all about social, economic, and environmental attributes - using resources in a way or at a rate which allows for future generations to provide for their future. In other words, the triple bottom line.

But if more and more of the land or marine environment, and its resources, are owned or controlled by the government, it will be of no more use to future generations, than it is to the present generation from which it is being taken.

I recall seeing statistics which said if more that 15% of the land mass of a country is under government control it means the country cannot sustain itself.

Yet, I understand that around 35% of New Zealand is already under Government regulation or control - hardly the basis for a sustainable future for anybody.

So what's the deal here?

It's clear from my research that what our politicians are pushing is not even their own original ideas.

Through international treaties, conventions, agreements, laws and administrative initiatives, the politicians have moved relentlessly to acquire resources by stealth and control its use through regulation under UN edict.

When politicians introduce new Bills, or try and attract votes by pushing their so-called concern for an issue, they rarely say that the purpose of the Bill is to comply with some international document or agreement.

They say it is to "protect" the resources for future generations. They never say that when the resource is fully regulated and entangled in a web of bureaucracy future generations won't be able to provide for their social, economic and environmental future either.

It's a giant resource grab by politicians. Possession of power presents temptations to abuse it; and the disparity between the respective powers of the state and the citizen is immense.

The second reason why the National Party just isn't going to make it comes from police spokesperson, Tony Ryall.

Recently, he's been bleating that a police discussion document was further proof the government was meddling in police operational matters and jeopardising police expertise.

The discussion document floats ideas such as reviewing the role of constables, based in part on the increased use of private police forces, such as those paid for by city councils and private investigators.

Ryall is concerned that removing police from frontline community duties is something the public should be alarmed about.

But, hang on!

The new role for local government, under Sandra Lee's local government review which is currently at the public submissions stage, is for all council's to provide for the social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being of their communities.

Well hellooooo, Mr Ryall - what do you think "social well-being" might include? Could it be council's in the future providing money for policing, hospitals, welfare and schools?

It's a question of who pays to do what - central government (taxpayers) or local government (ratepayers).

And wasn't it former National Party PM, Jenny Shipley, who spoke at the January 1999 international conference in Washington entitled "Transforming Government's in the 21st Century" where much of what is now taking place in New Zealand was discussed?

It all follows a global pattern where central government ultimately forces local councils to become involved in, and spend on, everything from medical care, to welfare, to policing, to schooling.

Since the 1989 New Zealand local government amalgamations, more than 90 functions (unfunded mandates) which central government used to do have been foisted onto local government - now there's more to come.

Overseas, this has caused such financial instability within local councils that many of them regularly blow their budgets and have to borrow extensively. And some have had their credit rating down-graded to junk bond status so they have to pay a higher premium to borrow money.

Great system! - for the banks and financiers.

It's become so serious that in Australia councils are calling for a share of GST revenue. Councils, there, concede that rates are already too high and cannot be squeezed further. They are arguing that about four per cent of annual GST revenue should be diverted to them.

Which leaves me with a final point of curiosity. When central government borrows money on our behalf, what does it use as collateral? Our government-controlled parks and reserves perhaps?

For National Party politicians like English and Ryall to try and claim the moral high-ground in the charade that is called an opposition, makes me sick. These politicians have joined together and all paint with the same brush.

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