The media reported Margaret Mutu’s predictions of violence if the Foreshore bill becomes law but were far too politically correct to report the extent of the fracas at the hearing in Auckland. Before the meeting even began the committee clerk was assaulted. The Harawiras arrived with some very big young men dressed in black leather. (Think Destiny Church but more menacing.) Then, the group, ignoring requests to sit down, started rearranging the furniture, seizing the press table, and covering it with the Maori sovereignty flag. The Chair repeatedly called for order as the witnesses and their supporters abused Labour Maori MPs. Where were the police? There were at least 18 police present. The committee called the two senior sergeants including the iwi liaison officer to the table to see what protection the committee could expect from the police and got psychobabble about alternative world views in reply. One of the Harawiras called Dover Samuels "A f...ing white man’s nigger". MPs, asking the police if they were going to take action, were told that the policeman who was right beside the offender had heard nothing.
While Labor must be the favourite, (its hard to win four times) the Liberals have some built in advantages. The electorate prefers Labor on issues like education (in Australia a State matter) but on defence, the voters trust the conservatives and that’s a federal issue. Latham’s promise to withdraw the troops from Iraq by Christmas, leaving their American and Kiwi mates, and the pledge to remake the American relationship is not popular. While the preferences favour Labor (Greens and Democrats support Labor), the electorate boundaries favour the Liberals. Labor will have money – like NZ the corporates have given up funding politics but the unions have not. Labor is governing every State, so has resources to burn. Howard's task is tough but not impossible.
PS: If Latham does withdraw troops what will Helen Clark do?
The Supreme Court has granted Richard Prebble leave to appeal Donna Awatere Huata’s injunction against her expulsion from parliament under the Electoral Integrity Act. The judges have ruled there are three grounds for appeal. Is proportionality only voting in parliament or does it cover all of an MP’s activities; did Richard Prebble as leader have reasonable grounds for invoking the Act, and what is the legal effect of the Speaker having declared Mrs Huata an independent MP? The Court has granted urgency and a hearing date of 5 & 6 Oct. There will be close scrutiny of how the court conducts its first case. The decision is on http://www.act.org.nz/supreme
LAWS MORE LAWS
There is some validity that the activism of the courts is caused by the hyperactivity of parliament. The parliamentary library advises that since Labour came to office some 511 new statutes have been passed filling 12,813 pages and a further 1,785 regulations filling a further 13,746 pages. Ignorance of the law is no defence so readers can start memorizing it all on http://www.legislation.govt.nz
THE BUILDING BILL
358 pages make up the new law that will become the Building Act. The government says the new law is needed because of the leaky building crisis. The law licences builders and it is now illegal to build your own home. All do-it-yourselfers will now have to have their work certified by licensed builders. There is no evidence anywhere that DIY builders caused the leaky building problems. ACT’s Ken Shirley as a young man built his first home, which is still standing and does not leak.
The government is expected to announce that the public can have access to the land either side of named rivers. The owners of this land will not be able to prevent people from coming on to their land. Such "right to roam" laws have caused chaos in rural Britain. The financial loss to many landowners will be substantial. A lot of land is valuable just because it is private. It is a further sign of the lack of respect for individuals’ rights to own land. The government does not intend applying the law to any Maori land because apparently Maori have strong feelings about land that the rest of us do not.
National is unable to fight this land grab because National’s Nick Smith (who should be in the Alliance party) has a private members bill, Overseas Investment (Queen’s Chain Extension) Amendment bill, to confiscate land. Labour voted for the bill to be sent to a select committee. Leader of the House Michael Cullen explained to his team “Let the farmers come and give National hell in the committee and then we will vote it out”.
ECONOMICS OF INFRASTRUCTURE
Last week AA published the report 'Benefits of Investing in New Zealand’s Road Infrastructure'. The study indicates that the cost benefit ratio used by the government is far too conservative and the economic return from roads is much higher than had been appreciated. The report says, "Despite recent increases in NZ’s road funding levels, NZ’s level of annual spending on road infrastructure is still below the OECD average of 1.3 per cent of GDP." Political responses were predictable. The Greens hated it. Labour said it’s spending more (though not on any of the roads in the study) and ACT said, "We told you so". The study is on http://www.act.org.nz/roads
THIS WEEK’S POLL
Last week's The Letter poll has Banks
ahead by a nose, with 58% of the votes. Dick Hubbard has
33%. This week: Do readers support a probationary period for
all new employees before the ‘hard to fire’ rules of
employment law start? Vote at http://www.act.org.nz/poll - We will send your answers
to Small Business Minister, John Tamihere.