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Don Brash Writes: No. 45, 1 December 2004

NZ National Party
Don Brash Writes

No. 45, 1 December 2004

New Zealand Superannuation Secure

Two days ago, I repeated earlier assurances that, under a National Government, all those currently receiving New Zealand Super will continue to receive it on the same basis as currently - 65% of the average wage for a married couple, at age 65, without surcharge or means test.

I also confirmed that all those within a decade or two of retirement - in other words, those with rapidly diminishing scope to change their financial position at retirement - should similarly be assured of being eligible for New Zealand Super on current terms.

I announced that, contrary to National's policy at the last election, we would continue contributing to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund at the current rate, so that New Zealanders can more easily see that National can honour that commitment.

Although this has been portrayed by the media as a major change of direction, the reality is more prosaic. National has always accepted that, at this very favourable time in our history in terms of the age structure of our population, it is appropriate to run fiscal surpluses which are a bit bigger than average, in order to prepare for the time when the age structure places bigger demands on the budget.

Previously, we favoured using those surpluses to reduce the government's debt, much as a homeowner with a large mortgage would do. Labour set up the New Zealand Superannuation Fund instead, leaving government debt levels largely unchanged and effectively putting budget surpluses into a "jam-jar" for the time when the population ages. It is clear that most New Zealanders feel safer with a "jam-jar" they can see than with a lower level of government debt, and National has accepted that.

The Maori Party urging a "fight to the death if necessary"

All New Zealanders should deplore the extraordinarily provocative comments made by Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia at the weekend conference of the Maori Party.

Pita Sharples is reported as saying that "we have to go out and do battle. You have to go out there and do it on the streets. Let us fight to the death if necessary for the treaty's encapsulation in legislation."

Tariana Turia is quoted as saying the Maori Party does not condone violence, but adding "We will fight to the death if necessary so that our rights are upheld."

This is very serious stuff. It is reported that Tariana Turia herself has received death threats. There is no way that such threats should be condoned - against Turia, or by her.

It is absolutely imperative that all New Zealanders make it very clear that violence can never be justified to advance political ends in a democratic society.

I am reminded of a comment once made by Woodrow Wilson: "A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has not yet become an American."

A New Zealander who thinks of himself as first and foremost a Maori, or a Pacific Islander, or an Asian, or a Jew, or a European, or a Catholic, or a Muslim is not yet a New Zealander. Yes, we have different ethnic backgrounds. Yes, we have some differences in culture. We can use "Maori" and "European" as adjectives, as in Maori New Zealander, or European New Zealander. But if are to be New Zealanders, that national identity must transcend any ethnic or cultural identity.

National will not again stand candidates in Maori electorates

Last week, I announced that the National Party Board had decided that in future National would not stand candidates in the Maori electorates. The Board felt that this was the only logical position to take in a situation where we had already announced a commitment to abolish the Maori seats.

The Maori seats were first created in 1867 for a five year period in an attempt to ensure that Maori men got a vote - at a time when the only people who had a vote in New Zealand were men who owned property, and of course most Maori property was communally owned.

The seats have long since out-lived their purpose.

We will, of course, actively campaign for the party vote throughout the country, in every electorate, and we are firmly of the view that bringing the Treaty settlement process to an early and final completion, together with our other policies on education, social welfare, health, law and order, and taxation, is as much in the interests of Maori New Zealanders as it is in the interests of other New Zealanders.

But no place for continuing PC nonsense

I continue to be surprised and appalled at the extent to which political correctness about the Treaty has invaded our public institutions.

Murray McCully drew my attention to a discussion paper on "Maori Relationship Strategy" produced by the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, one of our foremost Crown Research Institutes. The Institute has appointed a Manager Maori Strategy, and the paper includes comments such as:

"We must recognise that Maori have specific rights not shared with other New Zealand citizens."

"The current ignorance of our staff of the implications of the Treaty relationship for our work blinds us to opportunities to carry out our primary function. In addition, ignorance of the importance of cultural differences in social, economic and intellectual activity almost certainly will affect our performance in other environments."

The paper goes on to lament the shortage of "biculturally competent scientists" and to declare that the Institute "will need to learn how to operate in the 'Maori market'".

The Dominion-Post of 15 October told us that "Housing New Zealand has spent $111,000 putting 67 staff through a course on which they are told New Zealand governments deliberately undermined and destroyed Maori authority and social systems."

Papers released under the Official Information Act show that the Housing Corporation "recognises that the two Tiriti/Treaty partners have different ways of looking at the world including values, beliefs and experiences. We will develop the organisation so that it reflects a view of the world that relates to both Te Tiriti/Treaty partners. We call this a two-world view." They may call it that. I call it political correctness run riot. Housing New Zealand exists to provide housing to all New Zealanders in need, regardless of their "world view", and indeed even if they have no "world view".

At the Auckland University of Technology, the degree programme for the Bachelor of Health Science (Midwifery) includes papers entitled "Midwifery and Treaty Partnerships" and "Difference, Dominance and Diversity", with the course materials including a wide range of papers and documents promoting a radical Maori view of history. Radical Maori can advocate that view, in a non-violent way, if they want to, but I am absolutely not happy to see my tax dollars going to promote such garbage, especially in the name of midwifery training. Apparently, those doing the "Difference, Domination and Diversity" paper are also separated into two streams - Maori and non-Maori - for the purpose of the course.

Perhaps it is not surprising that it was the Associate Professor Maori Health at AUT, Mihi Ratima, who claimed that "For Maori, a secure identity relies upon whakapapa, links to whanau, access to natural resources, like whenua (land), awa (rivers), takutaimoana (foreshore), maunga (mountains). These connections are the foundation of what it is to be Maori, and what it is to be healthy as Maori. The proposed Foreshore and Seabed Bill (now passed into law of course) threatens these foundations of good health."

And now we see Dunedin and Wakari hospitals deciding to spend an extra $12,000 to $16,000 annually to ensure that only blue pillow-cases are used to support patients' bodies because it is apparently "culturally inappropriate" to use the same pillow-cases for heads as for bodies and, to be on the safe side, this rule will apply to all patients.

Of a totally different order of magnitude, evidence presented to the Environment Court recently suggested that the time limit placed on the use of some water rights for the Tongariro power scheme, on the grounds that continuing to use the water offended against Maori cultural and spiritual values, had a cost in excess of $1 billion in net present value terms.

The Labour Government perpetuates this nonsense, and just a couple of weeks ago included in the Employment Relations Law Reform Act an obligation to observe the "principles of the Treaty" in any collective agreement involving health sector workers.

National is committed to stopping this nonsense, and treating all New Zealanders as equal before the law.


Don Brash

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