Dr. Don Brash
In New Zealand, freedom of speech is enshrined as one of our fundamental rights in the Bill of Rights Act of 1990. By comparison with a great many other countries, New Zealand stacks up pretty well.
In some ways it was indeed a good Budget. Government spending is under reasonably tight control, with the ratio of government spending to GDP continuing to edge gradually lower from the levels it reached in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes and the global financial crisis.
On 22 March, I attended the single public meeting which the Government held to brief the people of Auckland on its proposals with regard to fresh water management. There were fewer than one hundred people present, no doubt in part because there had been little publicity about the meeting.
The proposed amendments to the Resource Management Act announced just a few days ago make it abundantly clear that we are well down the track of accepting that we are not really one people at all, but two distinct groups with different political rights.
One of the objectives of the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group (a group representing most of the major iwi in the country) is to ensure that all Crown-owned lake beds and river beds, together with the related “water column, the space through which the water flows” are vested in the relevant hapu or iwi.
It would be churlish to be entirely negative about Bill English’s seventh Budget. There is merit in increasing the basic benefit level – the first increase in real terms since 1972 – and on the other hand increasing the expectation that those on a benefit will get into at least part-time employment.
A couple of days before Waitangi Day I had a call from David Fisher of the “Herald” telling me that Dr Morgan would be going to the Orewa Rotary Club to give a speech criticising what he called “ignorant Brash-think” about the Treaty.
One of the most disturbing comments made by any politician in the election campaign so far was the comment by John Key when he said that, though abolition of separate Maori electorates is National Party policy, he had no plan to abolish them because such a move would provoke “hikois from hell”.