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Flavell: Notice of Motion

Notice of Motion: Tuesday 28 March

Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki

I stand today to raise the concept of suspending Standing Order 261 to hasten through a huge raft of legislation which is being encompassed within the Local Government Law Reform Bill.

I appreciate the comments made by members this afternoon.

This suggestion to put together a whole picnic of assorted bits of legislation and rush them through the House, is not one that the Maori Party supports.

We stand for Accountability

The Maori Party stands for accountability - we take our responsibility very seriously to stand up for the survival or Maori, to defend Maori rights; for the benefit of the nation.

We stand up for Genuine Progress as a nation.

Progress which is understood by all, debate and dialogue being open and dynamic; and outcomes reached which we can all have a part in.

The Maori Party will encourage an opportunity for people to participate for voices to be heard, to be involved in the laws of this land.

Every Issue Counts - Dog Control Act

Let’s take just one issue that is to be included in this Massive omnibus bill - the Dog Control Act 1996. The aim of the legislation is to instantly identify dogs involved in attacks or picked up by dog control. More than 60,000 dogs will need to be implanted with the microchip under the skin.

Well some may say, so what?

Clearly the Prime Minister sees it as a critical issue - proclaiming to the public, One Law for All Dogs.

Immediately this morning, Taranaki Federated Farmers president Bryan Hocken has challenged this direction, stating the Prime Minister will have "a battle ahead of her".

As this House will know, the Maori Party always appreciates the wisdom of history and how it leads us in to the future, and so in thinking about the Dog Control Act 1996, we can think back to May 1898.

Dog Tax 1898

At this time, the Hokianga County Council, in an effort to control the increasing dog population and their impact on local farm stock, recommended that the dog-tax of 2/6d per dog applied to all dog owners. The people of the North were outraged at the imposition of the Dog Tax - and the people of Waima refused to pay.

They were threatened with arrest. Under the leadership of the Mahurehure chief Hone Toia they stood firm and continued to refuse to pay. They were threatened with being banished to the ice-bound regions for eternity. They then decided to march upon the County headquarters in Rawene in a show of force to settle the matter.

Reaction was fierce and swift.

The government sent out 120 members of the Permanent Force, armed with two Nordenfeldt field guns and two Maxims and the gun-boat Torch.

The women and children of Rawene were evacuated and back here in Parliament, Northern Maori MP, Hone Heke, left Parliament in session, and returned home to join other elders in defusing the situation.

Eventually the Mahurehure leaders lay down their arms and surrendered; they were arrested, taken to Auckland for trial on the grounds of treason, and imprisoned for a term in Mt Eden.

Hone Heke lost his Parliamentary pay for the period of time he was absent. The Dog Tax remained in force.

Mr Speaker, this is not the Crimes of Torture Bill that I am talking to at this point in time. This is just one element, of the Massive Omnibus Bill that we are being asked to suspend under Standing Order 261.

When the Taranaki Federated Farmers President, challenged the Prime Minister to battle, it made me think again of Te Mahurehure.

Call for Transparency

Mr Speaker, we must be transparent, we must look at all the issues that confront legislation.

We must consider what the Federated Farmers have to say - just as we must listen to the Kennel Club, the Veterinarian Association, SPCA and all others that have an opinion matter.

And the only way we can do that is through a contestable process.

We must not speed through a process which can create further injustice.

We hear this issue about One Law for All - in this case as it applies to dogs!

Mr Speaker, one law for all has been expanded in this Notice of Motion, to real extremes - meaning you say yes to one Bill, you say yes to them all.

It’s a bit like buying a lucky dip, you don’t know what you’re getting. And the bag mightn’t even have anything in it.

As a matter of contrast, perhaps we can compare another item on the order paper proposed for the Government Law Reform Bill - the issues associated with rates.

There are hefty issues for Maori associated with local body legislation. Maori have never really had a positive relationship with local government.

The almost total absence of Maori representation at local government level has a long historic whakapapa.

It remains one of the root causes of many of today’s difficulties amongst Maori communities and their struggle to determine and manage their own local affairs.

Today, to be fair to local bodies, there is a trend for central Government to dump their treaty obligations on to the local bodies. The local bodies did not sign the Treaty.

Te Tiriti of Waitangi, the Resource Management Act and the Local Government Act all give clarity to the notion of Crown obligations.

The principles of respectful relationships; of good faith, co-operation, information sharing, models for tangata whenua representation, and the need for effectiveness and efficiency in delivering resource management for the wider communities, are all issues which need far greater discussion than this Bill allows for.

We need to ask some fundamental questions about what use rates can be put to?

One of our high achieving kura, Mana Tamariki in Manawatu, this week embarks on a study tour to the international renown early childhood centre at Reggio Emilia in Italy. The Maori Party congratulates in particular, Brenda Soutar, who is the inaugural recipient of a scholarship to Reggio Emilia.

Reggio Emilia is a distinctive example of local government dedicating a significant percentage of its rates revenue to fostering early childhood education. The centre stands as an example of innovation in the relationships between the local bodies (the municipality), the communities it serves and the private and voluntary sectors of childcare provision.

The philosophy behind local government support is that they gave priority to the early childhood sector, seeing their babies and young children as the future. In encouraging these children to be critical thinkers, they believed they are laying the foundation for wellbeing and growth as a community.

Mr Speaker, I use the Reggio Emilia example as an illustration of the type of use that our rating revenue could be put to. Initiatives which truly promote and reflect the foundation for genuine progress as a nation.

We, the Maori Party, believe the many bills encompassed within Local Government Law Reform Bill are simply too enormous to be gathered together in one sweeping statement before the house.

The Crown’s current approach to working with the Treaty of Waitangi effectively marginalises Maori perspectives from debate and decision-making.

Local Government directly affects the well-being of people, the community and the land. Te Tiriti o Waitangi requires a more direct relationship between Local Government and Mana/Tangata Whenua.

It is therefore critical that Local Government must relate directly to Maori in terms of Article one as well as Articles two and three of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

These are weighty issues. They are significant issues. And they must not be sidelined or camouflaged within the Omnibus Bill before the House today.

To this end, the Maori Party will not be supporting the notice of motion.


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