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Liberty Belle: The power of the State

Liberty Belle: The power of the State

Deborah Coddington's Liberty Belle

The powers of the State are enormous and terrifying when abused. You sail along in life assuming that when things do go wrong and an agent - or agents - of the State overstep the mark then good people will be outraged and wrongs will be righted.

It is certainly this outrage, which led New Zealanders to accept - with exceptions - that indeed the State had abused its powers when land, which was clearly owned outright by Maori, had been seized by a Government. Maori owners were seen as an easy target, and property rights had been trashed.

We did our best, as tolerant people with a strong sense of fairness, to rectify those wrongs by giving the land back. Bastion Point and the Raglan Golf Course spring to mind.

But then the pendulum swung the other way and the Treaty of Waitangi was abused by judicial activism. Property rights not even anticipated in 1840, such as broadcasting frequencies, were claimed by Maori and awarded by apologist politicians. Two wrongs suddenly did make a right (if you'll excuse the pun). Or, to put it another way, everything went too whänau.

As an MP I'm continually outraged by stories people bring to me where citizens going about their everyday life suddenly have their worlds turned upside down by agents of the State.

Recent allegations about the police force - gang rape, undercover activities involving cannabis, are two examples. Law enforcement officers, who have the power to arrest for such crimes, and who we pay to defend our rights, should be absolutely above suspicion when things get tacky.

And what about children? We are all horrified when we hear stories about children being abused by their parents. We're quick to act and pass judgement when itinerant boyfriends of careless mothers sexually or physically attack their children.

What horrifies me is the evidence I've seen whereby agents of the State who've never been made accountable have attacked children while in the care of the State. Despite this despicable behaviour being brought to the attention of those with the power to right a severe wrong, nothing has been done.

I have spoken with and met people with far greater grievances than many iwi claimants, but quick as a flash, nothing has happened.

Until now. Watch this space.

Liberty Belle is a column from Deborah Coddington, Member of Parliament for ACT New Zealand. If you would like to be removed from this list, please advise by return email. If you would like to subscribe to other ACT New Zealand publications, please visit our web site at

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