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Greens support genuine dialogue

12 November, 2004

Greens support genuine dialogue

The Green Party is urging the Prime Minister to ensure that the national dialogue on the Treaty, to be announced tomorrow, involves and engages all New Zealanders.

"New Zealand is at a crossroads and the relationships we build will reverberate for generations to come," said Green Party Co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons. "So we're pleased that the Government has adopted both the Green initiatives to advance our national understanding of constitutional matters and the Treaty."

Ms Fitzsimons noted that the Greens had negotiated an agreement for a select committee inquiry into constitutional arrangements at the time they gave support for the Supreme Court Bill. She also noted that the Greens had proposed a community dialogue back in March, as a way to help communities better understand each other.

"We're pleased that the Government has taken up our suggestion on a national dialogue," said Ms Fitzsimons. "The important thing now is to ensure that all New Zealanders are encouraged to participate."

Ms Fitzsimons said a true dialogue could only succeed if the Government made resources available to adequately fund it.

"This isn't a 'make a submission if you feel like it' kind of process," said Ms Fitzsimons. "There are a number of steps that have to be taken if this dialogue is to be successful."

Ms Fitzsimons said these include:

* Publicity so that all New Zealanders are encouraged to take part in whatever groups they feel comfortable with;
* Availability of quality, objective information about our history;
* Development of a series of questions to prompt discussion and encourage people to listen to each other and consider unfamiliar views;
* Availability of trained facilitators to help groups work through contentious issues;
* Time for groups to meet often enough for ideas to evolve;
* Use of feedback in any future discussions about the role of the Treaty in our constitutional arrangements.

"All this will depend on adequate funding," said Ms Fitzsimons. "The Greens have been involved in preliminary discussions but will judge the Government's sincerity about a national dialogue on the basis of the resources it is prepared to commit to building better relationships around the Treaty."


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