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no,” was a famous catch phrase sponsored by former US
presidential first lady Nancy Reagan to persuade American
children not to engage in violence, premarital sex, and
illicit drug abuse.
well revive that campaign here in New Zealand, but applied to
the government’s response to Maori tribal demands for water
rights and ownership in the lead up to partial privatisation
of mining and energy state-owned enterprises.
minister John Key has in fact already said no by stating that
his government would ignore any Waitangi Tribunal
recommendation in favour of Maori tribal water claims that
would derail the SOE sell down.
for Mr Key, he has been undermined in the integrity of his
stance by finance minister Bill English.
to the legal challenge threatened to the partial privatisation
of Mighty River Power by Ngati
Tuwharetoa, Mr English cynically promised a danegeld, saying,
“As you get down the track there will be some kind of
settlement which generally involves some cash, or involves the
transfer of some Crown assets to them.”
the Waitangi Tribunal hearings amount to a phoney war, given
that the finance minister has already betrayed the
government’s intention to bribe the
likes of Ngati Tuwharetoa with the transfer of money and possessions
belonging to New Zealand’s citizens and taxpayers.
As if Mr
English’s dirty business wasn’t enough to have to excuse,
Mr Key has also been subjected to political pressure by
various elements outside his government.
An example is Mai Chen of Treaty
industry law firm Chen Palmer, who went on record to state,
“Respect and good faith requires in substance and in
appearance that the Government will consider any tribunal
recommendations with an open mind.”
One wonders where Ms Chen’s sage
counsel was when back in May 2003 then prime minister Helen
Clark did what Mr Key has incurred so much criticism for.
Before the Waitangi Tribunal had even
had the opportunity to publish its decision on a South
Taranaki Maori claim to nationalised oil and gas fields, Ms
Clark killed the prospect of the claim succeeding.
"Once you open
the door to one, you open the door to all and our
consideration is that it isn't a Treaty breach," said Ms
Clark, who wasn’t pilloried for her pre-emptive strike the
way My Key has been.
Ms Clark’s example has in fact been
followed by Mr Key and his minions.
Two examples are nationalised
minerals and Urewera National Park.
Nationalised minerals include gold,
silver, uranium and petroleum.
In June 2010, fronting for what would become the Maori tribal
appeasement legislation of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act
2011, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson had the following to say
in parliamentary question time:
“Those who have a [Maori] customary
title will be able to own the non-nationalised minerals within
their areas of recognised customary title.”
“This applies to all minerals
except gold, silver, uranium, and petroleum.”
“Petroleum, of course, was
nationalised by the first Labour Government in 1937; Labour is
very good at doing that sort of thing.”
In April 2010, Mr Finlayson told TV3’s Duncan Garner, “Well there are two classes of
minerals I think we have to talk about, because pre 2004
petroleum had been nationalised, in fact was nationalised by
the Labour government in 1937, silver and gold and uranium
have always been nationalised minerals … Oh I think the
so-called traditional reserved ones, Gerry [Brownlee]'s
already said are off the table …”
words, just like the Labour government of Ms Clark, the
National government of Mr Key has never had a problem with
just saying no to Maori over Treaty claims to nationalised
minerals, a point which serves to underscore how parliamentary
sovereignty trumps Maori compensation demands provided the
government of the day keeps its nerve and acts in the wider
interests of all New Zealanders.
was the near miss with the Urewera National Park, which Mr
Finlayson is reported to have been on the brink of giving to
2010, after getting an earful from a National Party conference
about pandering to Maori, Mr Key personally torpedoed the
handover of the national park and called the idea “unacceptable to the
Just saying no to a
national park being used as a Treaty settlement, Mr Key said,
“It's fair to say that the proposal from Tuhoe's negotiating
team falls outside of the broad principles that have operated
for other Treaty negotiations.”
“A lot of Treaty settlements have unique
provisions, but in my view it would have been quite a
significant step away from the broad principles under which we
normally negotiate a Treaty settlement.”
Maori is thus unnecessary, despite the Key government falling
into that trap before in trying to buy Maori Party support for
future MMP elections.
published in the National Business Review.
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