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Treaty Slashed from Machinery of Government

When will they get it? Treaty Slashed from Machinery of Government (Again) Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader, Maori Party Wednesday 22 November 2006

Dr Pita Sharples today spoke out about what appears to be a comprehensive attack on achieving compliance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi from the Government.

"First we had Labour and NZ First joining forces to delete all references to Treaty principles from legislation" said Dr Sharples. "This was followed by the deletion of the Treaty from the principles of the New Zealand School Curriculum. Today it appears the guillotine has been taken to Regulations".

Dr Sharples is a member of the Regulations Review Committee, which is currently finalising Terms of Reference for their Currency of Regulations review.

"As part of this project, the Maori Party suggested that the review should also include the extent to which regulatory impact statements are required to take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, including the principles of consultation between the Treaty partners, and doing so in good faith" stated Dr Sharples.

"These are issues which I regularly raise at the committee and I was pleased that initially the Maori Party proposal was accepted by all members".

Yet, subsequently, National and Labour Party Committee members have reported back that their respective caucuses do not support the addition of this item to the Terms of Reference. The Labour Party view was that its addition is unnecessary because such consideration is already required.

"When I looked into it, however, I found that Cabinet Office guidelines for regulatory impact statements fail to make any mention at all of the Treaty" said Dr Sharples.

"Similarly, the Ministry of Economic Development's detailed guidelines on the preparation of regulatory impact statements omit any reference to take into account either the Treaty or its principles".

"Our experience tells us that unless a commitment to the Treaty is explicitly written into policy, regulation or legislation, commitments are not followed through" said Dr Sharples.

"Regulations are extremely significant - they are the detail of legislation, the 'how' that puts our laws and government policy into action - and they are mostly made outside of Parliamentary and public scrutiny - making it all the more important that there are decision-making protocols on regulations we can have confidence in" said Dr Sharples.

"This response, though, is typical of a government that refuses to consult even on those issues which most definitely and directly relate to Maori, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The responses from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to our oral and written questions shows that they have never consulted with hapu and iwi, and have never intended to" ended Dr Sharples.

Background The Regulations Review Committee examines all regulations, investigates complaints about regulations and performs other functions so that regulations are subject to effective parliamentary scrutiny and control.


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