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The Right Talk, The Leader's View - 7th October

The Right Talk, The Leader's View

7th October 2003

Back to the future on seabed debate

Ask any New Zealander if this country is any closer to settling the argument over who owns our beaches and they'll probably be unable to give you an answer. The majority of us are in exactly the same position and that includes the Government. Labour's shuffling the deck chairs as we speak.

The Government's been forced to pour cold water on Cabinet papers released last week which said the drafting of legislation was due to start any day now. We've since been told the time frame's being re-written, as is Labour's half-baked proposal.

By the time we see what the Government is planning it will inevitably be too late for the silent majority to make one jot of difference. Labour has sought advice from Maori at a cost of around $500,000 for the 11 hui.

Helen Clark is again attempting to shut down the debate, heading back behind closed doors to settle internal feuding before tackling public opinion. In all the uncertainty and confusion Helen Clark has deliberately stayed in the shadows, only surfacing occasionally.

She's never had the stomach for dealing with difficult Maori issues in public. We have had no debate about the definitions of customary title, nor customary ownership nor guardianship nor public domain. They are likely to be key planks in whatever compromise the Labour strikes with its Maori MPs over the ownership, and access to, our foreshore and seabed. Look for National's next instalment later this week.

PC Brigade to target smacking

Helen Clark and her PC Brigade are now going to tell us how to be better parents, starting with promised changes to the smacking legislation. As a father of six, it troubles me when the Government starts elbowing its way into homes up and down the country to tell mums and dads what's right for their kids.

There have been cases where the courts have let those guilty of clear physical abuse against children escape lightly - but that's no reason to push on with law changes that would make criminals of most parents. The debate comes hard on the heels of statistics which show we have one of the worst child death rates from abuse in the world.

Forget the tinkering with smacking law changes - New Zealand parents need our help and support.

National creates families portfolio

It appears Peter Dunne believes he has some kind of monopoly on families.

Just last week National announced Clevedon MP Judith Collins as its Families spokeswoman, only to be roundly criticised by the United Future leader.

Remember this is the same Peter Dunne who's backing a Government that's legalised prostitution, and is prepared to let girls under 16 have an abortion without parental consent.

The National Party believes families deserve better representation than that.

Worrying trends in welfare

Worrying new figures show Maori make up more than 40% of those receiving the DPB.

Statistics made available by Work and Income show more than 30% of those registered as unemployed identify themselves as Maori, up 4% from 2001. Worse off are young Maori, particularly women, collecting the Domestic Purposes Benefit.

According to the figures the number of Maori collecting the DPB rose from 34,365 in 1999 to 35,258 in 2001 and then climbed again to 40,203 this year. That's a rise of 16%.

These are the latest in a series of damning figures which show the ranks of long term unemployed have grown by 50% in the past four years while the number of people claiming the invalids' benefit is up by a staggering 33% in just four years. Over the same period the number drawing the sickness benefit is up 21%.

Parliamentary rugby newsflash

And in news just in, New Zealand's Parliamentary Rugby team has been unable to do what the All Blacks will - and lift the Rugby World Cup off the Australians.

In a torrid encounter that saw many players carried off the field from each team, the New Zealand Parliamentary side lost 12 points to 5 against our Australian counterparts in the Canberra final.

National's Brian Connell damaged his Achilles, NZ First MP Ron Mark cracked a rib while I'm left nursing an injured calf muscle.

The current crop of All Blacks clearly have nothing to fear from any of us.


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