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Katene: Local Government Amendment Bill


Third Reading; 23 November 2010

Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga

It gives me no pleasure at all to rise to speak on this Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill today.

In fact, it literally gives me a pain. This bill, if it is simple, as the previous speaker describes it, must have been conceived by a very simple person. The Minister who brought it to the House has a simple philosophy, and that is no representation, no consultation, and no tangata whenua. The Māori Party put our minority view into the report and when my colleague Te Ururoa Flavell spoke on the previous reading last night he talked about my report.

It points out that some key areas in regard to the Act that this bill amends must be addressed, but none more so than that of tangata whenua participation at local government level. It is well-established that at local government level tangata whenua have been unfairly, inequitably, and disproportionately under-represented across elected councils and boards, and this bill is making it worse.

In fact, when I stood to speak on a previous bill this week—the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3)—I alluded to the fact that the provisions in the aquaculture settlement were unable to be carried out because of under-resourcing and other things that local authorities could not do. As a result of that speech I received an email from a local councillor in the Bay of Plenty who said that they had already done the work on the aquaculture settlement in the allocations and pointed out that this may have been because there are so many Māori on their local council.

We can see from this that when Māori are on the local council things actually work. Things happen. Things move along. If we do not have tangata whenua there, and if we do not consult tangata whenua, then things will slow down very much. This is a very bad bill in that it takes away even more from the need to consult tangata whenua. In fact, it does not want tangata whenua to be dealt with at all.

As I say, this is a simple philosophy from a very simple Minister. It is of real note that in the annual review of race relations issued by the Human Rights Commission in March 2010, Māori representation in local government and an effective voice for Māori in the decisions of the new Auckland Council is one of the top 10 race relations priorities. I think this is something that is not given enough air time.

By taking away representation and consultation with tangata whenua we are actually creating a rod for our own backs in the area of race relations. This House needs to be taking the lead in creating good race relations here in this country, and this bill is not going the right way. It is definitely going the wrong way. It is something that everybody is concerned about except, unfortunately, for the National Party led by the ACT Party and this simple Minister.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Led by the nose by the ACT Party.

RAHUI KATENE: The member has got that right. We have real concerns about the provisions for water. It is really a problem that things are sneaked in by stealth, as they were. Throughout our deliberations National and ACT members tried to make it clear that these things will not change and that this is not about water privatisation, then, suddenly, here it is, the evidence is right there in front of us that it is about privatisation.

Chris Auchinvole: Oh, Rahui, I’m shocked. This is so unlike you.

RAHUI KATENE: I am sorry that the chair of the Local Government and Environment Committee is not able to see that that is what it is about, but that is the fact of the matter. It is about privatisation. Given the fact that privatisation of water has not worked anywhere else in the world, why on earth are we taking that route? Why is New Zealand not taking the route of seeing what is going on and picking up the best of what is happening in the world, instead of picking up the worst of what is happening in the rest of the world? We do not want to be a leader in the water privatisation area; let us hold back; let us learn the lessons that have been learnt elsewhere. We have real problems with this bill. We will be voting against it, and I really hope that this simple Minister will stop now with his simple philosophies for trying to get rid of tangata whenua.


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