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Liberty Belle: Big Billy Goat Gruff

Deborah Coddington's Liberty Belle

Big Billy Goat Gruff

For my sins, when the House is sitting, I have to wake up to state radio. Not that I mind Sean Plunkett and Geoff Robinson. They're nice enough sounding chaps. It's just that, in order to know what's happening before I reach Parliament, I have to endure comments from their producers' choice of guests who are, overwhelmingly, pro-interventionist. The gummint, it seems, is the curer of all ills. If something's wrong, what's the gummint going to do about it?

But I digress. This week's Mana news delivered a surprise in the form of Mr Puketapu who seemed to be criticising Te Puni Kokiri. Centralisation, Mr Puketapu asserted, does nothing for Maori.

I couldn't agree more. Gummints just stuff things up for everyone - including Maori. Look at what the gummint's doing to schools in provincial and rural New Zealand. A high proportion of Maori children go to these neighbourhood schools and they are going to be spending more time sitting on buses when they're forced to travel another eight to ten kilometres further to the school Trevor Mallard thinks they should attend.

But I digress again. Closing The Gaps - policy that dare not speak its name - is alive and well and sneaking into legislation.

This week we finished debating the dastardly Land Transport Management Bill - legislation that allows the government to take unlimited road user charges and spend them on any form of transport that occurs on the land or the sea. So that could include skateboarding, horseriding, cycling, walking, barging, and coastal shipping. But the Bill won't add one kilometre of roading to New Zealand's highways, and it will make Auckland's transport problems worse, not better.

And look what can be found buried at the back of this Bill, in Schedule 2, under "Matters to be included in performance agreement" in relation to Transfund (the entity responsible for providing funding):

Clause 14 states: "Any steps that Transfund intends to take, having considered ways in which it might foster the development of Maori capacity to contribute to Transfund's land transport decision-making processes, over the period covered by the agreement."

You know what this means don't you? Road user charges will be given to iwi to object to roading developments by finding taniwha or tapu sites. How can there be any other possible meaning of "Maori capacity" when it comes to roading? There is no such thing, any more than there is Pakeha capacity, Jewish capacity, Chinese capacity or Swahili capacity. That we allow this rubbish to pass into legislature is shameful. We should be the laughing stock of the civilised world.

Good grief! Imagine if the Romans had adapted this sort of mumbo jumbo when they built roads in England. If they'd written rules stating they had to consider ways which might foster Anglo-Saxon capacity for roading. And that was 2000 years ago!

Will this do anything meaningful and constructive for Maori? No. This sort of politically correct nonsense just holds Maori back. It is patronising and racist. Yes, racist, because it treats people differently just because of their ethnic background.

Maori people are affected by bad roads just the same as everyone else. They die on them; they get fined for speeding on them. They get stuck in traffic on Auckland's motorways. They curse everytime they drive between Auckland and Hamilton and are forced to crawl through roadworks held up by the alleged presence of a taniwha living at a bend in the river.

I have no objection to Maori, or anyone else, holding sacred beliefs, but the taxpayers shouldn't be forced to fund them; and their roads shouldn't be held to ransom by them. I might believe in Big Billy Goat Gruff, but I have no right to block the consents for a new bridge motorists have paid, and paid, and paid for.

But despite the Prime Minister's ban on the lingo, 'closing the gaps' (or to be more precise, 'handing out favours to buy Maori votes') continues. Labour don't seem to have caught up with the fact that Maori are not uncivilised, uneducated second-class citizens who need to be patronised.

Yours in liberty,

Deborah Coddington

PS: check out our campaign website and download the petition to save our schools: www.saveourschools.co.nz.

Liberty Belle is a column from Deborah Coddington, Member of Parliament for ACT New Zealand.

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