An opportunistic grab for a handout or a principled stand for collective rights? John Key will feel on safe political ground in rejecting the Maori Council’s water rights claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, portraying it directly as an ‘us and them’, Maori vs the rest issue: ‘As (chairman) Maanu Paul said last night, the reason is they want you all to pay for that. He said you need to pay for their water’ – see Danya Levy’s Key rejects Maori water claim in asset sales battle.The claimants have a very different view, saying the privatisation of the assets has forced them to take action: ‘Mr Wihapi says Maori have been quite comfortable for years with the Government and its agencies using natural resources for the benefit of the whole nation. But he says things have now become serious, because tribal property is set to be stolen’ – see Radio NZ’s Hapu blames Govt for water rights claim. [Read more below]
While the Tribunal and, almost inevitably, the courts will have to decide what rights actually exist, the underlying principle that the Maori Council is arguing is the same as has been agreed on many previous claims. Resources that iwi gifted or allowed the state to use for the public good are reclaimed once the collective benefit ceases and this has been the case with vast tracts of land used for schools, railways, roads and parks across the country. Tracy Watkins warns that history suggests the issue might not be as easy to dismiss as the PM thinks – see: Claim on water case of déjà vu. That’s a view shared by economist and treaty scholar Brian Easton: ‘If the Government were to ignore those property rights, then I think there could well be the same sort of anger as occurred with the foreshore, that is they would see the Government has privatised them’ – see Janika ter Ellen’s Water claim could provoke anger – scholar. Willie Jackson highlights the formidable team leading the Maori Council, particularly ex-Maori Land Court and Waitangi Tribunal judge Eddie Durie in Don't underestimate role on Maori Council.
The Government hasn’t ruled out buying back shares to settle claims but they are likely to be negotiated in secret with individual corporate iwi bodies on the condition that the sales are not impeded in any way. The Maori Council, in contrast, is openly challenging the unpopular sales because the public interest of all New Zealanders is being undermined. Although a deal with the Council is also possible, any legal delays could prove politically fatal to the sales, as it did to some in the 1980s. Anti-treaty sentiment may not be enough to overcome the many negatives the Government faces. Pete George (Extorting water rights rort wrong) and Martyn Bradbury (If you are a Pakeha who hates asset sales, you should rally around the Treaty) argue the opposing views of the water claim.
There is another risk for the Government, especially as Key has been quick to say the Government will ignore any Waitangi Tribunal recommendation, irrespective of the outcome. The Maori Party has already paid a heavy price for its association with National. To have their coalition partner dismiss the Waitangi Tribunal so easily will put further strain on the relationship and open them to further attacks from the Opposition: ‘I think now is the time for the Maori party to say “if you are not even bothering listening, we are out”’ says Mana Party leader Hone Harawira’ – see: Patrick Gower’s Asset sales decision not binding – Key.
Other important or interesting political items today include:
* New housing is becoming the preserve of the wealthy in New Zealand says David Kennedy in his blog post Housing Crisis Demands Immediate Action!
* The modern National party has lost the traditional balance that "natural social hierarchies" used to provide argues Chris Trotter in Barbarians, risen without trace.
* Debate on trade deals in New Zealand tends to focus on the advantages to our agricultural sector, but Audrey Young reports that Tech firms fear trade deal loss of freedom. Young also reports that at least US drug companies have given up trying to destroy New Zealand’s public purchasing body – see: US companies accept Pharmac is here to stay, says head of lobby group.
* Is Auckland’s casino more interested in using customer data to extract more profits from problem gamblers than stopping them? – see: SkyCity refuses to reveal gambler research. The Problem Gambling Foundation has long claimed that SkyCity's business model depends on problem gamblers as they provide 40% of pokie profits – see: SkyCity Host Responsibility Questioned. Meanwhile the distribtution of pokie funds is again in the spotlight as it’s revealed that Auckland gets Waikato and BoP gambling proceeds.
* The relaxing of the Emission Trading Scheme deadlines risks our international credibility on climate change writes Colin James in On the bus. Or the truck. It's a gas.
* Finally a number of national sports bodies, who have long complained about Sky TV’s charges for vital television coverage, look to break free of the pay TV operator – see: Sky TV could face competition with new free-to-air channel.
Tracy Watkins and Kate Chapman (Stuff): Share deal could settle Treaty claims
Danya Levy (Stuff): Key rejects Maori water claim in asset sales battle
Adam Bennett (Herald): Maori state objection to asset sales
Adam Bennett (Herald): Maori plan to fight Key's 'ignore it'
Janika ter Ellen (TV3): Water claim could provoke anger - scholar
Patrick Gower (TV3): Asset sales decision not binding – Key
Katie Bradford-Crozier (Newstalk ZB): Maori Council hopes to talk over asset sales
Adam Bennett (Herald): PM's water ownership claim challenged
TVNZ: Breakfast: Claim for water and geothermal assets (3:44)
Pete George (Your NZ): Extorting water rights rort wrong
Willie Jackson (RadioLive): Don't underestimate role on Maori Council
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Claim on water case of déjà vu
No Right Turn: Threats and bluster
The Standard: Can iwi stop asset sales?
Martyn Bradbury (Tumeke): If you are a Pakeha who hates asset sales, you should rally around the Treaty
The Standard: Asset sales & Brand Key becoming inextricably linked
Vernon Small (Stuff): Cosgrove 'as honest as the day is long'
Dom Post: Editorial: Political distance breeds suspicion
Keeping Stock: Did he really say that
Herald: Editorial: Charting the course to true free trade
Audrey Young (Herald): Tech firms fear trade deal loss of freedom
Audrey Young (Herald): US companies accept Pharmac is here to stay, says head of lobby group
Aaron Lim: China: friend or foe?
Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): Auckland gets Waikato and BoP gambling proceeds
Lindy Laird (Northern Advocate): 'Slum landlord' claim rejected
David Kennedy (Local Bodies): Housing Crisis Demands Immediate Action!
Kiwi Rail job losses
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On the job losses at KiwiRail
Herald: KiwiRail to cut up to 220 jobs
Tim Watkin (Pundit): Peter Dunne – The Power of One
Chris Trotter (Press): Barbarians, risen without trace
Colin James: On the bus. Or the truck. It's a gas
Shane Cowlishaw (Stuff): Cool response to ACC payout offer
Gareth Morgan (Herald): Let's levy the rider not the bike
Sam Thompson (Newstalk ZB): Te Tai Tokerau seat "winnable" – Shearer
Catherine Delahunty (Frogblog): Minewatch Northland
Newswire: Mining expansion disappoints Greens
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Shearer on mining
Waikato Times: Editorial - If it looks like a subsidy ...
Michelle Duff (Stuff): Schools heavy parents over fees
Jody O’Callaghan (Stuff): Te Papa staff fear jobs may be axed
Martyn Bradbury (Tumeke): Sky TV - the unregulated
Morgan Godfery (Maui Street): Hands off the whales, Te Ohu Kaimoana
NewstalkZB: Research suggests govt departments inefficient
Neil Ratley (Stuff); Power bills on the rise
Martyn Bradbury (Tumeke): The Union Report with Helen Kelly from CTU and Garry Parsloe from MUNZ
Pete George (Your NZ): MP views on alcohol minimum pricing
William Mace (Stuff): Laws told off for 'shoot rabid reporters' comment
Teuila Fuatai (Herald): V8 Supercar secret report sparks plea to mayor