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Govt. Must Front Up With New Treaty Clause

The Prime Minister should immediately release the new Treaty of Waitangi clause in the health reform legislation so people know what is planned, National's Health spokesperson Wyatt Creech said today.

"The Prime Minister has lambasted the Race Relations Conciliator for being worried about the divisive nature of the Treaty clause - claiming the Government has made it clear the clause will change.

"Whether the Prime Minister accepts it or not a lot of people are interpreting the Treaty clause as providing preferential treatment for Maori. Even the Government's own Health Boards are making the same interpretation.

"National has obtained Lakeland Health's Transitional Health Plan, dated September, which has been produced as required for the Government. It appears to conflict directly with Helen Clark's statement that everyone will be treated equally.

"Lakeland Health delivers services to the Rotorua-Taupo regions and has clearly interpreted the Treaty of Waitangi clause as giving Maori preferential treatment."

The Transitional Health Plan (page 4) states that the ramifications of interpreting the legislation in a manner consistent with the Treaty include:

* an acknowledgement by the Crown that Maori have claims upon the health system (and therefore other social policy areas) beyond those of other NZers * a recognition of the right of Maori to a say in decision making and control over health services * potential for the judiciary to control the political process. Government policies in the health sector could be open to legal challenge through the Waitangi Tribunal process for example, if Maori claim the Crown has failed to protect the health status of Maori compared to other NZers under Article Three.

"The Government should release the new clause straight away. The Select Committee should be able to call fresh submissions to assess the impact of it.

"This is the first time a Treaty of Waitangi clause has been included in social legislation. We must have proper consideration of what is planned. That can only happen if the Government produces the new clause for all to see."

Ends

A printable formatted copy of this press release will be available on http://www.national.org.nz along with an archive of previous releases.


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