Don Brash Writes - No. 43, 3 November 2004
NZ National Party
Don Brash Writes
No. 43, 3 November
In my last email newsletter, I said that Mr Tamihere had admitted receiving a payout of almost $200,000 from the Waipareira Trust after earlier publicly saying he would not accept such a payment.
He may or may not have thought that tax had already been paid on that amount. He may or may not have made an accurate declaration of his electoral expenses. Hopefully, those facts will be determined by the inquiry by Douglas White QC, though since he has no power to subpoena witnesses or documents that is not assured.
But that he said one thing to the public and did the opposite is not in contention. Lianne Dalziel was caught out saying one thing publicly then doing another, and she was promptly sacked. The Prime Minister already has more than enough evidence to act decisively in Mr Tamihere's case. John Tamihere should be judged by the same standards applied to Lianne Dalziel.
Last week, I visited nine provincial centers. At one of my meetings, I met the mother of Paul McIntyre, the man charged with shooting and injuring a man who trespassed on his farm in the middle of the night with the express intention of stealing a quad bike.
And it reminded me what an utterly bizarre country we have created. Three men go onto a remote farm in the middle of the night, are disturbed while trying to steal the farmer's quad bike, one of them gets shot when the farmer disturbs the criminals, and the farmer is charged.
Nobody wants New Zealand to become a country where the postie delivering a letter, or a courier delivering a parcel, going onto a property in broad daylight has to fear for his life. But three crooks trespassing in the middle of the night, and accosted while in the very act of stealing property which does not belong to them?
And what about the ghastly incident recounted in graphic detail in last Sunday's "Sunday-Star Times", about the early morning attack on Mr Peter Bentley by two masked intruders, armed with sawn-off shotgun, knife and crowbar, on a farm in the Bay of Plenty? If his terrified wife had had a rifle, and had shot the intruders, would she too have been charged? In my view, she should certainly not have been.
We too often seem to prosecute the victim of the attack - and pay out compensation to the criminals if they misbehave in prison and are punished for it.
The "Sunday News" of 24 October carried the story of the dreadful attack on Brenda and Sonny Chan. A more hideous attack would be hard to imagine. And one of the animals who carried out the attack, Alan Wayne Mareikura, is now seeking compensation for the way in which the prison system has allegedly mistreated him.
The National Party offered to assist the Government to quickly pass legislation through Parliament to stop compensation being paid to some of the most appalling criminals in the prison system, but the offer was rejected. We are still waiting to see the promised legislation to stop this travesty of justice.
At another of my provincial visits last week I came across a classic example of the absurd approach this Labour Government takes to immigration.
I visited a company with some 300 staff in the horticulture industry, producing huge volumes of hothouse tomatoes, capsicums and other vegetables, much of it for export. The managing director of the company told me that they had one person on the staff who is absolutely critical to the company's survival - a Dutchman with unique skills relevant to this particular kind of high-tech horticulture. He and his Dutch wife, both aged in their late thirties, have a young family, including one child born in New Zealand during the two years they have had a temporary work permit. They want permanent residency, and the company who employs him is desperate that they get permanent residency.
But so far no luck. The Government allows thousands of immigrants into the country, some with no job offer and little prospect of getting a job offer, except perhaps driving a taxi. And here is a perfectly suitable immigrant, who already has a job in a large company which is desperate to keep him, and he can't get permanent residency, apparently because he is classified as an "agricultural worker" and for Labour this isn't considered a skilled category.
Judge Joe Williams
And finally, the extraordinary statement attributed to the Chief Maori Land Court Judge, Joe Williams. Judge Williams is reported to have told the International Bar Association Conference in Auckland last week that Treaty of Waitangi settlements need to be five times their current level in order to have any significant impact on Maori poverty.
Well, he is right about one thing. Treaty of Waitangi settlements are not going to have a big impact on Maori poverty. As Rob McLeod pointed out recently (Rob is himself Maori, and is chairman of the Business Roundtable), if Treaty settlements eventually total $1 billion, and are divided equally among the roughly 500,000 New Zealanders who have some claim to Maori ancestry (and of course they won't be divided equally), then each recipient would receive just $2,000. Invested at, say, 5% interest, this would generate just $100 a year in interest income, before tax. Better than a kick in the pants to be sure, but hardly significant when compared with the gap in average incomes between Maori and non-Maori New Zealanders - a gap equal to some $6,000 a year.
That gap can never be closed through government hand-outs, for Treaty settlements or for anything else. It can only be closed by ensuring that all New Zealanders, Maori and non-Maori, get a decent education and the training required to enable all of us to take a productive part in a modern economy.
Judge Williams does the Treaty settlement process a grave injustice. That process is about trying to provide some gesture of compensation for wrongs done in the past. It was never intended to solve problems of Maori poverty. If it were justified primarily as a way of solving Maori poverty, I would argue that the whole process should be stopped now - because it can never do that.
I favour investigating claims of historical injustice and determining reasonable compensation where injustice can be established.
But it is crucially important for everybody - Maori and non-Maori alike - that the process is accelerated and then brought to an end, once and for all. National wants all claims for compensation for historical injustice lodged by the end of 2006, and paid out, fairly, fully and finally, by the end of 2010.
Until the process comes to an end, and the Waitangi Tribunal is wound up, we can never move forward as one country - a country of many races and cultures, but all New Zealanders.