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High Priestess Helen Abandons Cult

High Priestess Helen Abandons Cult

This week justifies celebration across the country as New Zealanders - Maori and pakeha alike - who believe in the sanctity of property rights and one law for all, see the beginning of the end of the Treaty industry. Meanwhile, the Treaty cult has been abandoned by high priestess Helen Clark.

The actual Treaty is no threat to any New Zealander. It promised them all secure property rights, and the same law as British subjects. But the cult has developed around the so-called principles. No one even knows them all but they have given politicians the power to override our other values, including prohibitions on race discrimination.

The Treaty cult grew strong under Labour. Yet, in the space of a week, Ms Clark dismissed Waitangi Tribunal calls to strengthen the RMA for Maori, rejected Tribunal findings that confiscation of oil and gas rights were in breach of the Treaty, and said national interest overrode the Treaty.

If there is now a national interest test for Treaty claims, all earlier bets are off. Most New Zealanders will find it hard to see the national interest in most of the cult's beliefs.

Ms Clark, and her lieutenant, Margaret Wilson, shot the wheels from the Treaty gravy train with logic that can't be confined to oil and gas. A national interest test will exclude taniwha under the motor way, 20% cultural safety in nurse training, royalties on use of all native plants and animals, reservation of radio spectrum, and numerous other insults to the rational secular state.

This seemingly impulsive emergence of national interest as a joker to trump the Treaty card reveals Labour's Treaty principles for what they are - recently invented, and easily discarded, slogans. Gone will be the trump card status for `partnership', rangatiratanga, and taonga. Ms Clark chose the wider population over her cult.

The cult is in disarray. Confusion is deepening and the faithful have lost, well, faith. Already, one acolyte, Tariana Turia, has broken ranks, saying that `it is a further loss of a Treaty right'. A line has been drawn. She stands in defiance of Ms Clark and her kupapa Ministers.

ACT believes that confiscation of property rights is always wrong, whether it be nationalisation in 1937, or under the RMA today. The Tribunal is right: there is a claim. ACT knew the Tribunal could hardly rule that the oil and gas confiscation was not a breach.

However, that ownership passed with the land and, after the 1937 nationalisation, no landowner could benefit from oil and gas. Then, Maori held little of this land. While those who did have a claim, under the Treaty, so too does any landowner who lost rights in 1937.

But civilised societies have limitation periods, and aged grievances cannot be revalued without causing fresh grievance. History should not be re-written. Property rights would be best upheld now by ensuring they are respected from now on - not by windfall compensation for the past.

Cults warp pieces of established religions or ideologies. The Treaty cult is no different. The Treaty is a legal document, which plainly set out some privileges that English law gave as of right - including guaranteeing property rights, and one law for all. Clear, simple and legal, the Treaty can safely be set in stone, but the spurious principles will eventually go.

The end stages of a cult are likely to be ugly. The devotees will fight furiously amongst themselves as well as with critics. It may not be over quickly but this week signals that we will see the end of the cult.

Then, perhaps, we can retrieve the Treaty and put it in its rightful place as an assurance of property rights and one law for all.

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