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Bill English Speech: "Treaty Grows Another Leg"

Bill English Speech to the Gore Rotary Club "The Treaty Grows Another Leg"

The question I hear most often is "What does National stand for?"

The New Zealand National Party is a mainstream Party.

We stand for:

enterprise. personal responsibility. strong families and communities. freedom and choice. limited Government. national and personal security. And one standard of citizenship - one rule for all.

When other parties take up our principles it's another victory in the war of ideas.

But the New Zealand National Party is the only party able to make them the heart of government.

Two burning issues will dominate this decade, for all New Zealanders. Economic growth and the role of the treaty. The need for a national economic strategy is urgent so New Zealand can offer its people the opportunity they deserve to fulfil their potential.

We can make this the best country in the world for small business.

We can make sure work is worth more than welfare while jobs are plentiful.

We can make progressive changes in education, so every child gets the best opportunity.

We cannot afford to bask in the better times as if the world is on a never-ending, summer holiday.

We can't wait until the export tap is turned off and the property bubble bursts The country can't wait while 6000 long-term unemployed and 12,000 young people under 20 waste away dependent on unemployment benefit.

We should be taking the opportunity of better times to forge a new path ahead.

Instead Labour has used it up on regulation slowly suffocating the spirit of enterprise - $45,000 of extra costs for a workplace employing 20 people.

Labour will keep going - driven by a left wing belief that government is everything, welfare is good, that profit is bad, that business is greedy.

The Labour government has lost its ambition for New Zealand and New Zealanders. Last week, the Prime Minister gave away the Government's own growth goal - the top half of the OECD. As soon as the economy looks like it might slow down, the Government has started to make excuses - expect more of it.

National is ambitious for New Zealand. We will issue a discussion document on an economic growth strategy this week. It will build on the lessons of the last 15 years, it will build on New Zealand's strengths. Our economic policy is unashamedly free enterprise, backing the people who create wealth. The role of the Treaty is the second burning issue we must deal with.

The Treaty established a nation founded on one sovereignty, common citizenship.

We were the first, free British colony for two centuries.

No slavery, no convicts and no forced labour.

Settlers came for the opportunity to create a better life, a fresh start.

New Zealand was intended to be a mixed-race nation, formed with equality and full citizenship for both the indigenous people and pakeha.

So the Treaty created equality and it brought peace.

We have been and we are an egalitarian democracy.

Any person is as good as the next. It's our national ambition to "equalise upwards" - that is the New Zealand enterprise.

Our history since 1840 did not always live up to its promise. The Crown betrayed the trust and goodwill of Maori. Promises were broken, land was confiscated, and people were dispossessed. The laws denied Maori rights of citizenship. For instance, Maori land could be taken for public purposes without compensation.

In recent decades, the wounds of the past have begun to heal as the Crown has recognised the wrongs it did to its own citizens. I stand proud of the record of the National Government, which settled the first large Treaty claims.

The new version of New Zealand's history is not a happy one. It's a story of Pakeha injustice and destruction, and Maori loss and reparation.

That story served the purpose of rebalancing a rose-tinted history of race relations. But it's outlived its usefulness. It's too negative, too divisive, too much an excuse for social failure. And there is no place in it for most New Zealanders who don't believe they are to blame.

That's why people say they have had enough of the Treaty talk. We don't want to own a history where some of us can do no wrong, and most of us are the bad guys.

New Zealand will not accept that our laws and constitution should be based on the politically correct version of our history - that pakeha coming to New Zealand has been all bad - and pakeha should feel guilty about it, that Maori have always been victims, and every generation has to make up for it. This view of our history is embedded in the civil service and embedded in the Labour government. It's wrong - pakeha settlement was not all bad, Maori are not all victims and we can't build a common citizenship with guilt and reparation

As Simon Upton has said, we need a new basis of race relations. But in the meantime we must stop the momentum that builds grievance, victim status and separate interests into every public institution. Take the Local Government Act. One clause says in every decision your local council makes, it must take account of the special relationship Maori have with land, sea, air and water and other taonga.

This clause gives the force of law to spiritual beliefs of a group defined by their race. I have been criticised for not respecting Maori beliefs, but no one has denied that the law does what I say it does. Similar laws threaten scientific research.

But now there is pressure to extend the Treaty itself.

For 163 years the Treaty has had three articles - now there's a fourth article, and its official. The Waitangi Tribunal recently announced it will hear a claim based on Article Four of the Treaty.

The historical basis for Article Four is some discussions between Hobson and Bishop Pompallier on February 6th 1840 about religious freedom in New Zealand. Hobson assured him there would be freedom of religion.

It was never written down - it is not part of the Treaty as we have known it for 163 years.

But what has happened is that a guarantee of religious freedom for everyone has been turned into a Trojan Horse for just Maori indigenous beliefs.

And it is being taken seriously - by the Waitangi Tribunal.

A Tribunal member, Keith Sorrenson, said a few weeks ago the Article Four claim was important because it was about the relationship between Church and State.

The Chair of the Tribunal is Eddie Durie. In a speech from 1996 he says verbal promises are as much part of the Treaty as documented promises. He goes on to argue that with Article Four included as part of the Treaty, the Treaty is "authority for the proposition that the law of the country should be in two streams", that is, European law and Maori law and customs.

So a lot hinges on this Article Four.

Eddie Durie is an influential man. He clearly regards Article Four as important. If he gets his way, this phantom article will propel us further down the road of constitutional change by stealth.

We will have a State-protected and constitutionally protected Maori indigenous right to religious belief that no one else will have.

We must draw a line in the sand and stop the constitutional experiments.

If this claim is allowed to continue, it will gather momentum.

I challenge Helen Clark to step forward, bring the claim to an end and direct civil servants not to include references to so-called Article Four in documents. The Government must tell the Waitangi Tribunal to proceed no further. It must reject the claim right now. But that is unlikely, because the Government also believes there is a fourth article to the Treaty. They haven't made an announcement - Helen Clark's whole approach to the Treaty is secretive elite and arrogant - but it's sneaking into public life.

An important official document published late last year called "Achieving Health for All People" sets out what the first three articles of the Treaty mean for health. Then it goes on to the fourth as if it had always been there.

"Article IV of the Treaty acknowledges and guarantees the right to practise and develop in accordance with tikanga" or custom.

So, Article Four has the endorsement of Government - it's on the road and who knows where it will take us.

The people have had no say. Parliament has had no say.

Article Four will almost certainly end up in the new Supreme Court Margaret Wilson is setting up. And what priorities has she given to the Supreme Court?

The first criterion for an appeal to the Supreme Court is that:

"the proposed appeal involves a significant matter relating to the Treaty of Waitangi or tikanga Maori". The second criterion says "the proposed appeal involves some other matter of general or public importance."

We simply cannot stand for this sort of social engineering. Who has decided that the Treaty is the primary consideration in our law and in public decision-making? - Only the Labour government, with no mandate, and certainly no public support to do so.

So we are stuck with a new article in the Treaty - the Labour government recognises it, the tribunal has accepted a claim and the Chair supports it, and the Supreme Court is set up to regard such issues as its top priority.

And they are keen to push on. Last week, the Government used a backbench MP to fly a kite - that a Maori Head of State might satisfy Maori aspirations for self-government.

What is going on in this Government? What are they talking about behind closed doors ? It's time the public knew.

Labour is prepared to use any crowbar to wedge the Treaty into the heart of our law and constitution, against the will of the people.

Will any of this fix the real problems: too many Maori in prison, half of all Maori children born into one parent families, lack of education and hope for a secure job with a good income?

No. No. Because not enough Maori are gaining the self-determination that really works - economic success, and independence from the clutches of government.

Progress for Maori comes the same as it does for any New Zealander who has aspirations - economic opportunity. There's a deceptively simple recipe - supportive families, good education and work.

Successful Maori businesses are a powerhouse in the economy. Many successful Maori organisations are changing lives for the better, despite the government and its interference in ever aspect of Maori life.

The success gets lost amongst the recrimination for bad government policy.

The Clark Government's greatest failing is its abdication of duty to lead by honestly addressing the relationship between Maori, Pakeha and other New Zealanders.

Honesty and straight talking is essential if we are to trust each other.

But I don't trust Helen Clark and Margaret Wilson to deal with Maori and Treaty issues. Whatever they say, every step is in the direction of a separatist philosophy. Anyone who dares question this direction is abused as a racist, a Maori basher.

But just because Helen Clark believes most new Zealanders are racists, it doesn't mean they are. New Zealanders will run with a fair go - fixing past problems, helping people who really need help, and making sure everyone has a fair chance.

Helen Clark and her left wing PC brigade just don't have faith in New Zealanders to do that.

We can move from dependency to development - there is a better foundation for a nation than guilt and recrimination.

It's time to rethink how this nation realises the promise of its foundation. We can be a country where every citizen is proud of our common New Zealand heritage, where our children know and respect our dramatic history, a country where everyone has the same rights and obligations.

Differences among us won't go away - they are part of our social fabric. But we can live better with the differences if we can break out of the suffocating atmosphere of political correctness, guilt and fear. I believe in the capacity of New Zealanders to solve these problems if we follow common sense.

Late last year, National ran a public meeting in Welcome Bay, where 180 ha of private land were declared wahi tapu. 300 people showed up.

The landowners knew the local Maori history. They knew there was a wahi tapu area on top of the hill, a beautiful site over looking Tauranga. They offered to fence it off and protect it. Some local Maori supported the idea; some were opposed because of a genuine but unrelated grievance over past behaviour by the local council on a different block of land. The discussion was reasoned and moderate. The voice of New Zealand I heard there was respectful, but it was frustrated, frustrated that the practical solution couldn't happen. No racist ranting, just good people looking for a fair deal everyone could live with, and only cringing bureaucrats and bad law stood in the way.

I believe in the inherent, reasonableness and fair-mindedness of New Zealanders.

Let their voice be heard.

The voice of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders must be heard. National will make sure their concerns for their country are heard.

It's time for the people to take back the job of defining our democracy, to push aside the government, the bureaucrats and the theorists.

You cannot force people to believe what they do not believe.

It's time for people of goodwill to stand up for one standard of citizenship.

Let's make 2003 a turning point for the silent majority who want to reclaim their country.

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