Dr. Don Brash
Nanaia Mahuta announced last Monday that she doesn’t like the ability of ratepayers to demand a referendum, and intends to change the law. In the meantime, she simply told the local authorities where ratepayers were demanding a referendum to ignore the current law.
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.