Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Waitangi Tribunal Bias Challenge Thin-Skinned

Friday 10 May 2002

It is a pity for Maori and the Waitangi Tribunal that the claimants who tried today to get Hon Michael Bassett ejected from sitting as a tribunal member on their Treaty claim have decided to appeal Judge Joe Williams' sensible decision to retain Dr Bassett, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said.

"Judge Williams' decision would have helped repair some of the reputation damage to the Tribunal. Dr Bassett on television's Assignment programme last week repeated widespread criticism of the Taranaki report which compared Parihaka and its aftermath to the Holocaust for Jewish Europeans.

"Judge Williams said Dr Bassett's comments were "inappropriate and unfortunate" and "incorrect". However, by upholding Dr Bassett's continued right to sit Judge Williams has ensured that pakeha concerned about the Tribunal cannot claim that it is entirely comprised of stooges for the Treaty industry. In fact Dr Bassett has rarely been allowed to sit. He has been on only four or five out of the more than 900 cases before the Tribunal. Despite that, the mere fact that he is still willing to work from within it for more objective justice gives the tribunal a credibility it would otherwise not have.

"Dr Bassett has given insider confirmation of what is suspected among people who come up against Treaty claims, that the Crown doesn't properly challenge witnesses and valid arguments are not pressed to avoid giving offence. Tribunal decisions were supposed to be the product of objective, neutral testing of the facts. The holocaust language was deplored by every objective commentator. Dr Bassett as one of the architects of the Tribunal while a Labour Minister has every right to try to ensure that it lives up to their hopes, that it would be an objective "truth commission".

"Those objecting to Dr Bassett do their cause no good. They seem to think it is okay for Maori to attack pakeha with extravagant rhetoric but not for a pakeha to even deplore the extravagance. Dr Basset has not attacked all Maori or claimants or the validity of all claims - he has just blown the whistle on poor process.

"The matter should not rest here. With Justice Drurie pressing for Maori to have veto power on the Tribunal and to ensure there is more than 50% Maori membership the role and reputation of the Tribunal is already suspect. Strong independent appointments such as that of Dr Bassett must be maintained. The system of selecting members for cases must also be reformed to ensure that those who are truly neutral and expert are not shut out of the kitchen whenever anything is cooking," Stephen Franks said.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Sector Opposes Bill: Local Government Bill Timeframe Extended

The Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has asked the Select Committee to extend the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). More>>


Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>


Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>


General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>


Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news