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Harawira: Emissions Trading Scheme

Emissions Trading Scheme
Hone Harawira; Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau
Thursday 11 December 2008; 10.30am

Mr Speaker, in the last dying days of the recently departed Labour Government, the Maori Party put up a proposal to recognise the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the Emissions Trading Scheme, with reference to all iwi that had reached settlement, and specific inclusion of the words, ‘the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act of 1988’.

We put up the proposal because we believed that the integrity and value of Treaty settlements not be set aside during the crucial debate on the legislation for climate change.

Unfortunately however, our proposal to include the Treaty was voted down by the Labour government, including every single one of their Maori MPs.

Indeed, the only people with the courage and the foresight to support the Treaty were the Maori Party, the Greens, and ACT, and I extend my deepest thanks to the Greens for their consistent support for the Treaty over the years.

And so, we’re glad that government has agreed to set up a special select committee to review the Emissions Trading Scheme, which enables us to raise the concern expressed by iwi that the ETS as it is currently worded, represents a significant threat to the integrity and finality of their Treaty settlements.

And just to put some context around that statement, Ngai Tahu advise us that in their analysis, the Emissions Trading Scheme will impose heavy liabilities on their pre-1990 forestry lands, and wipe tens of millions of dollars off the value of the forestry assets that they acquired through their settlement.

It is their contention in fact, that the Crown was bound, both legally and morally, to address their concerns, knowing full well that the ETS would significantly erode the market value of the pre 1990 forestry lands they had purchased, intending to convert those lands to better use.

And now, twenty years after the settlement, the loss to the iwi under the ETS, will in fact exceed the total quantum of their settlement.

Mr Speaker, it is fundamental to good relations between the Crown and Maori, that the Crown not act unilaterally to erode Treaty Settlements, so we are glad that this government is reviewing the ETS, in the best interests of honour, good faith and the national interest in terms of the integrity of Treaty settlements.

And to help government honour it’s commitment to Maori, we are happy to suggest that the following phrase be added to the terms of reference for the committee: “The committee shall consider the impact of the Emissions Trading Scheme on the integrity and finality of Treaty settlements, having particular regard to the relationship to pre-1990 forested Maori land”.

It should also be a matter of grave concern to learn today, that Labour’s shameful failure to support the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, continues in the negotiations currently taking place at the UN Climate Conference, where it appears that Labour’s appointees continue to oppose recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, in a decision on deforestation and forest degradation, and along with their CANZUS cronies – Canada, Australia, and the United States, continue to oppose measures to protect the rights of the very indigenous peoples who have sustained and protected the forests targeted under this agreement, for thousands of years.

Mr Speaker, in the final analysis, the Emissions Trading Scheme is at best, only a scheme. We must all take responsibility for our emissions; we must be inclusive in our approach; and we must develop a programme of emissions reductions that slows climate change and protects the environment

The Maori Party will be a willing and active participant in the special select committee to review the ETS, and in recognition of the particular concerns highlighted by Ngai Tahu, we have decided that our MP for Te Tai Tonga, Rahui Katene, will be our representative on this committee, and we look forward to the National Party appointing Hekia Parata to the committee for the very same reasons of whakapapa.


ENDS

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