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Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 122

Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 122

real issues.
this week: No. 122, 5 AUGUST 2004

* Who is indigenous now?
* It is better to give...
* Redefining citizenship
* Freedom of expression has obligations
* Welfare in the long-term - 14 August symposium

Who is indigenous now?

Long before Trevor Mallard raised the issue of indigenous people and their "post-colonial" status, legal and political thought came up with The Principle of First Occupancy. This holds that the first person or people to take possession of the land acquire special rights as far as property and sovereignty is concerned. The principle has a long and established history.

There is also another principle that needs to be considered by way of balance: The Principle of Established Order. This gives a prima facie right of respect and peace to all New Zealanders, and allows the country to develop lawfully. Established order refers to the human interest in stability, security, certainty and peace. For the sake of those values it prohibits overturning existing arrangements irrespective of how they have been arrived at.

Neither principle is absolute. But, it is the Principle of Established Order that gives a basis for condemning injustices of the past. The Principle of Established Order prohibits specific criticism of the nature of the culture of those who appeal to the Principle of First Occupancy. These people are entitled to recognition and respect but again their claims are not absolute.

While the principles may appear to be opposed it can be argued that both apply in any consideration of "indigenous" and surrounding justice issues.

Both principles assume a certain responsibility of stewardship. First occupants have a responsibility to share what they have, while the established order has a responsibility not to return to the old order but to, as far as reasonably possible, to attend to past injustices. To a large extent that is what is already going on in New Zealand. Whatever our ethnicity or race, we are all citizens of the same established order. That is where we start. Injustices of the past are not solved by creating new ones.

To read more about these principles visit: http://www2.law.columbia.edu/faculty_franke/….

You will need the free Acrobat reader programme to read about these principles: you can download it from http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=122.1

It is better to give...

Recent research from the US and Europe suggests that voluntary charitable giving is playing an increasingly significant part in society and the economy.

In the US, giving accounts for 2.2% of GDP, and despite signs of economic slowdown, it is expected to increase. In Europe, where state welfare has generally been seen as preferable to private philanthropy, increasing numbers of private foundations funded by wealthy benefactors are being established.

Two important trends are highlighted by this research:

Firstly, this increased giving is largely coming from the wealthier sectors of society. The 4.9% of Americans with net wealth over US$1m accounted for 42% of all donations to charities.

Secondly, estate bequests are soaring, as the post-war generation transfers its accumulated wealth, the largest ever in history, to its descendents. In the US alone, an estimated US$41 trillion to US$136 trillion will be inherited in the next 50 years, with much of this going to charities. Even the lower figure is about the size of all wealth in the world today.

Kiwis are among the most generous givers to charity proportional to GDP in the world. With current moves to regulate and levy the charitable sector in New Zealand today, particularly through the Charities Bill, it is important that we ask ourselves who should control how we as a nation spend our surplus income.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=122.2

Redefining Citizenship

Progressive MP, Matt Robson is right. The Identity (Citizenship and Travel Documents) Bill currently before Parliament is an over-reaction to the threat of terrorism. It is not that terrorism is not a threat, it is. So far in New Zealand, we have probably under estimated the reality of the threat, but this Bill takes a sledgehammer approach.

The first issue is that too much discretion is given to the Minister to recall or cancel a passport. A passport can be in danger if the Minister believes that "any unlawful activity designed or likely to cause devastating or serious economic damage to New Zealand, carried out for purposes of commercial or economic gain" such a clause lacks necessary precision. It is too open to possible abuse. In addition, it potentially undermines the basic legal principle of innocent until proven guilty.

The legislation also introduces notable changes to conditions for citizenship and passports. The length of residence required to qualify for citizenship is increased from three to five years. While five years is a long time to be in limbo, it raises the question of how long should an immigrant live here before they can become a citizen. As well as that why has the lifetime of a passport has been reduced from 10 years to five?

While the intention may not be to increase the power of the state it is a possible consequence of taking away more freedom from citizens than necessary.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=122.3

Freedom of expression has obligations

The Viewers of Television Excellence (VoTE) organisation has won a victory against TVNZ in the High Court. In July 2003, VoTE complained about the violence in an item on TV One's 6 pm news which showed children caught up in the civil war in Uganda. The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) upheld the complaint but TVNZ appealed to the High Court.

TVNZ claimed the broadcaster's right to freedom of expression in the Bill of Rights Act had not been properly weighted against restrictions. In his decision, Justice Wild said that in this instance, the restriction on freedom of expression was a justified infringement. "The objective of the warning, namely, to protect young viewers from unduly distressing images, is sufficiently important to warrant such a measure."

While the ruling did not result in any penalty imposed on TVNZ, it served as a reminder that broadcasters have an obligation to consider the effect of programmes on young viewers and that freedom of expression is not an absolute.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=122.3

Welfare long term - 14 August symposium

More than 34,000 people in New Zealand have been on the same benefit for more than 10 years. Figures released by Rick Barker, Associate Minister of Social Development, in answer to questions in Parliament reveal the breakdown of long term beneficiaries:

Invalids 20,276
DPB 12,022
Unemployment 1,285
Sickness Benefit 883
Total 34,466

We need ask what can or should be done to reduce this growing long term reliance on the state. To address the state of welfare in New Zealand - including its effect on individuals, families and society - a symposium on 14 August is being sponsored by Dr Muriel Newman, MP. A range of perspectives will be presented looking at the effects of welfare and solutions including snapshots of welfare progress in Australia, the USA and UK. And panel of political party representatives will address the question: "Do we need welfare reform?"

Symposium participants will also be invited to provide feedback on their prescription for welfare reform in New Zealand. Space is limited, to register call Tel. 04 470 6627 or download a registration form at: www.act.org.nz/symposium


A people without heritage are easily persuaded.

To subscribe send a blank email to: realissues@maxim.org.nz

Real Issues is a weekly email newsletter from the Maxim Institute. The focus is current New Zealand events with an attempt to provide insight into critical issues beyond what is usually presented in the media. This service is provided free of charge, although a donation to Maxim is appreciated. Items may be used for other purposes, such as teaching, research or civic action. If items are published elsewhere, Maxim should be acknowledged.

Key principles - The Building Blocks of Civil Society http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/about_page/about_keyprinciples.html

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