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The Brash-Report - No. 26, 24 March 2004

DON BRASH WRITES
An update from the National Party Leader
No. 26, 24 March 2004

A Commission of Inquiry?

The Government still appears intent on setting up some kind of Commission of Inquiry to provide advice on - well, we are not yet sure what it will be providing advice on. Possibly just what the Government should do with the seabed and foreshore, possibly what the Government should do with the Treaty of Waitangi, or possibly what the Government should do about our (unwritten) constitution more generally.

What is abundantly clear, however, is that the current proposal to establish a Commission of Inquiry is a desperate attempt by the Government to get the whole Treaty issue off the political agenda until after the election. The Prime Minister has already indicated that any commission would not be expected to finish its work for at least 18 months. After planning to spend more than $6 million on 'Treaty education' in the last Budget, now they propose to spend millions of dollars more to get advice on what they should think about the Treaty.

And they claim that the latest TV1 poll suggests that most New Zealanders support such an inquiry. The reality is that the apparently strong support for an inquiry reflects the very widespread concern which New Zealanders have about the way the Treaty is being used and misused, and most New Zealanders want something done about it. There is little evidence that they want a commission of 'the great and the good' (many of them involved in creating the present mess) telling them what to think about the Treaty.

National has consistently opposed the need for a commission of inquiry. We have made our own position clear, both on the seabed and foreshore issue (Parliament should legislate to ensure that the seabed and foreshore remain in Crown ownership except where existing fee simple title exists) and on the place of the Treaty more generally. If the Government is not in a position to make its position clear - probably because of deep divisions within the Government Caucus - then the Government should go to the country and seek another mandate, not set up a commission of inquiry.

More race-based nonsense

In an earlier edition of this newsletter, I listed a number of specific examples of the way in which the Treaty of Waitangi was being misused to hamper our development. Since that time, I have been flooded with further examples, and others have been published in the media. Here are a few more examples:

- And a copy of a letter to the Minister of Education: "I am writing to express concern about the size of some classes at Thorndon Primary School where our son is a pupil. I understand that Ministry guidelines state there should be no more than 28 children in each class. There are 37 children in our son's class (year 5) and there is one other class with the same number. There is also a whanau class with only 6 or 7 students, with a full-time teacher. We have been told that the small number of students in the whanau class is a contributing factor to the large size of other classes."

- From somebody operating a small business in Tauranga: "My staff member, a Maori, lives across the river from a multi-owned Maori block zoned Rural in Tauranga District Council. He has lodged a number of formal complaints for four years now due to the continuing number of inhabited buildings on site. TDC some 18 months ago discovered that there were approximately 26 illegal (in terms of the Building Act) household structures on-site. They took the last building's builder to court under the Building Act and promised that there would be a Planning Application made for the others. But we will never see such because they are Maori and the Council is too weak to deal with the issue. Meantime, my business is given a formal notice under the RMA that our business sign is non-complying (about 20mm too big on three sides!) under the District Plan."

- And from a non-Maori New Zealander married to a Maori New Zealander: "I have a tenant who is employed by a rest home in the heart of Christchurch. She recently told me that, as a requirement of her work conditions, she was to take home 40 pages about the Treaty of Waitangi and read up on it. She is a cook, and was extremely angry about this."

- "My husband and I both grew up in quite poor families, but we are now reasonably successful in property development. A typical story: my husband buys a block of land to build townhouses on. Council advise us to go and consult the local iwi to smooth the process of getting Resource Consent. An appointment is made. Husband and business partner turn up for the meeting?..They eventually wander in, and advise that their fee is $135 each per hour! Their 'secretary' arrives three-quarters of the way through the meeting and her fee is also $135 per hour for the entire duration of the meeting! Money handed over. If we did not go through this farce, the Resource Consent for our development would be much harder. The upshot of our tale is that in about 18 months when we wind all of our affairs up we will head to Australia? We've had enough and just want to have a happy life. We have a daughter in Med School in Auckland, and I am trying my hardest to get her to begin her professional life in Australia also."

- And a depressing article by Coran Lill in the National Business Review of 5 March 2004 catalogues a whole series of areas where consultation with iwi is required - in university research, in health research, and in road construction. The article notes that, to get approval to change the road boundaries around the Greenlane motorway interchange in Auckland, Transit consulted the Hauraki Maori Trust Board, Ngati Whatua O Orakei Maori Trust Board, Ngati Paoa Whanau Trust Board, Huakina Development Trust, Auckland City Council, Auckland Regional Council, the Geological Society of New Zealand, and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. No wonder we have traffic congestion in Auckland!

Fortunately, there are many Maori who are deeply uneasy about this situation also. This discussion is not between Maori on the one side and other New Zealanders on the other. There are Maori and non-Maori on both sides of the debate. I received one very moving letter strongly supporting the views I expressed in my Orewa speech, and the last paragraph read: "For the record, I am Maori (Nga Puhi from Mum and Raukawa from Dad). This is one thing I claim no merit for. I had nothing to do with it. It simply describes my parentage. I am not ashamed to be Maori but I am seriously concerned that tribalism has stolen the minds of so many Maori, mainly via the learning institutions in New Zealand."

The next National Government will be committed to assisting all New Zealanders who need help, regardless of race.

Don Brash

www.donbrash.com

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