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Gerry In The House 10 June 2005

10 June 2005

Mallard the dead duck in race relations role

By his own admission, Trevor Mallard hasn't been doing his race relations job. In fact, he told the House on Tuesday he was embarrassed to find that an advertisement for a job in his own office said the person had to have a commitment to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. So what has he been doing for the past year?

The saga began this week when he was asked by Dale Jones of NZ First if he knew how much money had been spent on Treaty education in the public sector. Mallard's surprising answer was "No". What was more surprising was, when he was questioned further, he stated that "I have not seen fit to waste time by asking [departments] what the cost of their courses are". Compare this with what he said after he got the job: "There are facts and there are perceptions, and there is a perception in New Zealand of enormous amounts of dosh being tossed toward Maori. I'm not sure if that is true. It's one of the things I want to find out". He said that in The Dominion Post on February 25 last year.

This is alarming. You'd think anyone charged with unwinding the Labour Government's racially divisive agenda would have asked officials at some stage to tell him how much money is being spent 'educating' Kiwis about the Treaty.

And why is it, then, that we need $6.47 million spent on a three-year Treaty of Waitangi education programme, including $1.2 million for a travelling Treaty road show.

One of the other aspects of Mallard's 'role', and by his own admission I might add, was the tidying-up of "inconsistent and incoherent references" to the Treaty in legislation (also from The Dominion Post on February 25 last year). Why is it then that Labour voted against a bill this week that would have allowed work to start on deleting references to the principles of the Treaty from legislation?

It is now clear that he was given the job only to take off the heat caused by Don Brash's Orewa speech last year, and his role was never meant to be anything meaningful.

After three days of questioning, New Zealanders are none the wiser about what Mallard has been doing since he was given the role of the Coordinating Minister for Race Relations.

Is Kyoto going to cost us the Earth?

There has been increasing speculation this week surrounding the cost of implementing the Kyoto Protocol. Not long ago, Pete Hodgson, the Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, said New Zealand would have a net carbon credit surplus worth up to $200 million.

But this week saw the release of a report that, based on Labour's own figures, taxpayers could be facing a bill of up to $14 billion over the next 20 years. When you add this to the carbon tax that was announced last month (which you may recall Labour has set at $15 a tonne, when they are currently being traded at up to $30 a tonne) you can see the disastrous effect that this could have on the New Zealand economy.

Yesterday in the House, when questioned by Brian Connell, Hodgson refused to give New Zealanders the assurance that our commitment to the Kyoto Protocol was not actually going to cost us the Earth. Instead, he told the country that the projections are being updated each year. Translation - I don't know what it's going to cost us, so I'm not saying anything.

When you look at it you do have to wonder - has Labour got it right? Are they positioning themselves for a back-down when they see the logic of the National Party's policy of not moving to ratify the Kyoto Protocol ahead of our major trading partners.

You can read the full National policy on climate change here .

A rift between Michael Cullen and Mike Williams?

Following Labour's spat over the Budget, with Labour Party President Mike Williams saying it contained a "deep dark secret" when questioned about tax, and Michael Cullen giving hard-working Kiwis no more than half a packet of chewing gum in three year's time, things have taken another turn for the worse.

It came out this week that Cullen turned up unannounced to the office of Michael Barnett, Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, to apologise for the behaviour of Williams at a meeting the Tuesday before, regarding Auckland's roading problems.

The meeting had been called to discuss why major projects in Auckland had not been accelerated as a result of the $1.62 billion injection announced in December 2003. During that meeting, at the Beehive, Williams said some projects had begun when in fact they hadn't. I find this an interesting state of affairs to say the least, considering that Williams is a board member of Transit New Zealand, the very people who take care of the roading projects, and the extra $1.62 billion.

What has the Labour Party President been doing all this time at Transit? Is Mike Williams one of the people who John Tamihere was talking about when, in his infamous Investigate interview, when asked about the machine that exists on the 9th floor of the Beehive, said: "Oh yeah, there's definitely a 'machine' all right. It's formidable. It's got apparatus and activists in everything from the PPTA all the way through."

This just shows the cavalier attitude that Labour has for the dire state of New Zealand's roads when one of the people who is both high up in the Labour Party hierarchy and high up in Transit has no idea what's been done to fix up our transport problems.

If you want to read what National would do for our roads you can read it here


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