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Harawira: Reserve Bank of NZ Amendment Bill

Reserve Bank of New Zealand Amendment Bill
Third Reading, Wednesday 25 October 2006
Hone Harawira; Finance Spokesperson

Mr Speaker, the next time you see a five-cent coin, grab it, because it may be the last time you handle Aotearoa’s unique and threatened Tuatara, and you better be quick ‘cause you’ve only got seven more days to see it before the coin featuring our taonga species is dumped by the Reserve Bank.

And although I’m sure the Reserve Bank have perfectly good reasons for getting rid of the old silver coins, it’s sad that our oldest and most un-evolved species (outside of this House of course), will no longer will be seen on the face of our currency.

Mr Speaker, the survival of this unique, living fossil; prompted Ngati Koata to join with Ngati Kuri, Ngati Wai, Te Rarawa, Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu, to challenge the Crown’s failure to protect the exercise of tino rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga over indigenous flora and fauna; a far-reaching claim lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal and known as WAI 262, which asserts rights to indigenous flora, fauna, Maori traditional knowledge, intellectual and cultural property rights, and authority in environmental, resource and conservation management.

Mr Speaker, this Bill refers to the dumping of the 5c coin in addressing an problem facing the racing industry, but in truth nothing is ever that simple, and we do well to consider the bigger issues as stake here.

Mr Speaker, this Reserve Bank Amendment Bill is supposed to promote better regulation of the trans-Tasman financial sector, as part of the Single Economic Market agenda.

And the Maori Party again questions the view that Maori, and New Zealand’s economic future should be forever tied to Aussie apron strings.

Mr Speaker, over these last few weeks, the Maori Party has been raising issues about the outsourcing of Air NZ's finance work to Fiji; Telecom’s shifting of its call-centre work to the Philippines; and other developments which show how control is fast moving offshore, and we can’t help but express concerns regarding our own sovereignty, and our capacity to participate fully in the developing economy.

Mr Speaker, perhaps now is the right time for Maori to be considering the nature of profit and risk that may come with doing business abroad. The growth of land-based businesses across international boundaries may indeed enhance an iwi’s ability to serve their beneficiaries, and the Maori Party is interested to hear what iwi think about the implications of the single economic market.

Mr Speaker, I know that regulating bank activity in Aotearoa and Australia can reduce bank operating costs and help financial stability, and I have no doubt that those improvements will help create better economic conditions for Maori commercial entities, and better prospects for their beneficiaries.

Mr Speaker, Maori have made great strides in developing economic opportunities and economic independence, and we see how that growth is clearly noted, year after year, in the positive results of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reports, which provide a detailed view of a major source of economic growth in the world, across 35 countries.

Their most recent study, released earlier this year, showed that:

- One in three Māori between 35-44 years of age is an entrepreneur;

- Māori have the highest informal investment rate in the OECD;

- Maori have double the rate of informal investment of other GEM nations;

- Māori have higher growth expectations; 12.3% of Māori entrepreneurs believe they will create 20 jobs in five years compared to 8.1% of the general population.

That entrepreneurial talent also has a positive crossover to exercising judgement, identifying opportunities, and handling market swings. Indeed, Treasury says that entrepreneurial success encompasses risk-taking, innovation, resource re-allocation, and coordination.

Mr Speaker, these factors provide fertile ground for exploring economic options, and in the particular context of this Bill, the benefits that may come from co-operation between our Reserve Bank and Australian financial authorities.

Of course the big question is whether the obligations that will be expected of us, will be matched by those in Australia. All this remains to be seen - but we’re willing to support this Bill at third reading to enhance economic vision and opportunity for Maori and all other New Zealanders.
And in speaking of that vision, I want to return to our humble currency, and to acknowledge the recent accolades from the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind for the Reserve Bank’s efforts to ensure the new coins are cool for blind people.

I see that a fortnight ago, the Reserve Bank got the Extra Touch Award from the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand, in recognition of its commitment to ensuring the new coins would be easily identifiable by blind and vision-impaired people.

Of course, our view is that the unique form of the tuatara would have made it just as easy for blind people to tell the difference … but perhaps that’s something we can leave for the WAI 262 claimants to consider.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party will support this Bill at third reading, as part of our commitment to supporting financial stability for all Indigenous Peoples, in Aotearoa, Australia, and the rest of the homeland we call the Pacific.


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