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The Right Talk, The Leader's View - 20 August 200

The Right Talk, The Leader's view
20 August 2003

Now for a new grievance industry

If you thought we would emerge eventually from the never-ending grievance industry, then Labour has set the clock back again with its foreshore and seabed package. Rather than legislating to confirm exclusive Crown title, as Helen Clark and Margaret Wilson initially indicated, Labour came up with the triumphant solution that no-one owned the foreshore and seabed. In so doing they created a new grievance industry based on indigenous title. Now we will have a generation of further wrangling and division. An expanded Maori Land Court, which will be a Waitangi Tribunal with teeth, will have the power to establish customary rights, "mana" and "ancestral association" over the thousands of kilometres of coastline under claim. This was a political solution to appease the Labour caucus and keep its factions together. It would not have been necessary if Labour had not created the climate of false expectations. Correcting the wrongs of the past is one thing; cynically creating confusion for political ends is another. We will all have to deal with the consequences long after this Labour Government has gone. National will legislate to ensure exclusive Crown title because access rights come from ownership. We will recognise customary rights, but we won't have an expanded Maori Land Court. All this demonstrates the need for National's core policy - One Standard of Citizenship. We are all New Zealanders. For more on this see the National Party website www.national.org.nz. And for more on the foreshore see http://www.beachesforall.co.nz

Cornucopia from Corngate

Helen Clark's credibility is on the line after the first open session of the Select Committee inquiry into Corngate this week. At the time of the election furore last year, the Prime Minister assured the public that all official papers were released publicly. But it is now revealed that some papers from her own Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) were withheld. Furthermore, Ruth Wilkie, a senior official in the DPMC, expressed concern at the time that this action of withholding some papers was a breach of the Prime Minister's word. Documents show Ms Wilkie expressed this view in a memo to Department head Mark Prebble. That is serious enough, but there is more. Helen Clark said at the time there were no positive tests on the corn. But 78 official Government papers, it is now revealed, refer to positive tests. The Prime Minister has stated she was just "the Chair of the Board (Cabinet)" and did not have a detailed involvement in Corngate. But evidence from key scientists showed she personally phoned them about the testing. Then there are questions about how Labour MPs, who hold the majority, are running this Committee. It will be regrettable if they use their majority to block evidence from key scientists that take a different view from the Government.

Gathering for our caucus retreat

National MPs will gather in Christchurch on Thursday and Friday for a two-day policy retreat. The occasion will be used for intensive policy sessions to set direction for the next election. Discussions will range from economic policy to a Citizenship paper, reinforcing our One Standard of Citizenship core plank. After this I look forward to joining other National MPs and members on Saturday for the big Invercargill march to protest the flatulence tax on farm animals, the most ridiculous of all Labour's social engineering moves. National MPs are joining these protests all around the country. For more on this see www.flatulencetax.co.nz


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