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Treaty Religion Unravelling

Treaty Religion Unravelling

Hallelujah - the cult followers of the Treaty of Waitangi are losing their faith. But when a cult decays, expect it to get ugly, ACT Treaty Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"Helen Clark is trying to squelch concern about oil and gas ownership, by crudely rejecting a Waitangi Tribunal finding that nationalisation in 1937 was confiscation of a property right protected by the Treaty. Her reason is simply that the confiscation was in the national interest. That reasoning would kill many Treaty claims. That, no doubt, is what Governor Browne thought when he needed Taranaki land for settlement in 1860.

"Minister Tariana Turia says `it is a further loss of a property right'. This open disagreement shows that Cabinet is divided, with Labour's kupapa Ministers Samuels and Horomia endorsing the Prime Minister's reasoning. When Samuels says `if it was the interest of the nation, it would be appropriate that those resources be vested in the Crown', how is it different for radio waves, the seashore, indigenous plants and animals, and the other so-called taonga which the Government has been taking to hand to Maori.

"ACT believes the Tribunal and Turia are probably right. We stand behind our principles. We have always said that the Treaty's property rights are the same for all New Zealanders. Confiscation of property rights without compensation is always wrong, whether oil and gas in 1937, or under the RMA today. But ACT would not rewrite history at this distance.

"This astonishing development comes a day after a similarly blunt rejection by Ms Clark of the Waitangi Tribunal call to beef up Maori veto powers in the RMA. Indifferent to the validity of the finding, she said `the Tribunal has a recommendatory power, and that alone'.

"Government spin about respecting so-called principles of the Treaty, about rangatiratanga, cultural landscapes and taonga is shown for what it is - political slogans. Why didn't they decide that the public interest overrode their Treaty religion many years ago? We could have saved an awful lot. In the name of these slogans, billions of dollars have been spent, countless projects have been delayed, thousands of lawyers and consultants have been enriched, and hundreds of laws have been warped with provisions no one can interpret.

"What's the point of the $6.5 million for Treaty propaganda now? If the Treaty, and its plain words, can be dismissed when it finally irks Ms Clark, with the support of her kupapa Ministers, what will it achieve? That money was to peddle the spurious principles and shore up support for recently invented superstitions. Most Kiwis have had a gutsful already. If even the Prime Minister doesn't believe in the cult anymore, let's give the rest of us a break.

"In the end, when the cult has collapsed, the actual Treaty can be retrieved, and it will take its rightful place as a plain assurance of property rights, and the same law for all New Zealanders," Mr Franks said.

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