web analytics
The Standard

The luxury of an ethical opposition

Written By: - Date published: 11:05 am, August 2nd, 2012 - 38 comments
Categories: Maori Issues, national, Privatisation, water - Tags: , , , ,

There are many similarities between the foreshore and seabed debate, and the current events unfolding around Maori water rights. In dealing with these National has two big advantages compared to the previous Labour government. First, the experience of watching Labour navigate the foreshore and seabed. And second, the luxury of an ethical opposition.

It’s part of the successful right-wing myth making around the F&S that Labour’s “first instinct” was to “legislate over property rights”. Not true at all, in fact that was National’s first instinct. Here’s an interesting piece by Audrey Young written the day after the court decision which ignited the F&S debate:

The Crown is the first respondent but acting Attorney-General Pete Hodgson said the Government wanted to carefully consider the judgment before commenting.

National MP Nick Smith is calling on the Government to appeal to the Privy Council.

Another option for the Government is to pass legislation clarifying ownership of the foreshore and seabed.

Dr Smith said the court decision would “open the floodgates” to more Maori claims over beaches, estuaries, harbours and almost any stretch of coastline. He said the Maori Land Court was “never intended as a court to deal with issues of foreshore and seabed”. “The foreshore should not be privatised by stealth. It should be protected and managed for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”

That was how it began, the start of a shameful National campaign of divisive, fear-mongering racism that culminated in the Iwi / Kiwi election campaign of 2005. Years later, even Don Brash apologised on behalf of the Nats. This history, and Brash’s mea culpa, was summarised in an excellent piece by Brian Rudman in 2009. It’s long, but I’m going to quote a big chunk of it:

It’s easy to forget that National, now playing the Maori’s best mate, opposed Labour’s legislation, not because it was unjust, but because it was too soft.

In September 2003, National Environment spokesman Nick Smith talked of Labour “feeding the grievance gravy train” and declared “National would legislate for continued public ownership in the name of the Crown”.

On December 18, 2003, as New Zealanders were preparing to head off to the beach for the summer holidays, National’s Constitutional and Treaty of Waitangi Issues spokesman, Dr Wayne Mapp released a hysterical press statement entitled “Maori Gain Control of the Beaches”. It was in reaction to Labour’s draft foreshore bill. He talked of a time bomb’s ticking and declared it “likely most of the coastline will now end up subject to customary title claims”. He said “the Government has sold the birthright of all New Zealanders”.

A few days later, Dr Brash added to this scaremongering on these pages, putting his name to a piece claiming “Maori will have the right to build boat ramps, jetties, reclamations for tourist hotels and buildings over the water …” and will have “veto power over anyone else’s development, whether commercial or recreational”.

He said customary title would, over time, “erode public access” and enrich “small sections of the Maori aristocracy”.

That Christmas Eve article turned out to be a dry run for his Orewa speech a month later. Nicky Hager reveals in The Hollow Men, the expose based on leaked Brash emails, that the speech was drafted by his chief strategist and adviser, economist Peter Keenan.

It was then massaged by one-time Labour minister and Waitangi Tribunal member Dr Michael Bassett. National’s resident Svengali, Murray McCully, “also reportedly had input”.

Mr Keenan had recommended in a December 13 email to Dr Brash that he make “a big splash” at Orewa on race relations.

“It will come after a summer with demonstrations on beaches, so that should set it up well.” Dr Brash agreed, ignoring warnings from another adviser of the dangers of Maori-bashing.

On the foreshore issue, he told his Orewa audience: “National will return to the position where, for the most part, the Crown owns the foreshore.”

He attacked the “dangerous drift towards racial separatism” and attacked a situation “where the minority has a birthright to the upper hand”.

National would remove divisive race-based features from legislation, scrap special privileges “for any race” and remove the obligation for local authorities to consult Maori. It would remove Maori seats from Parliament.

After pushing all the racist buttons, National saw its poll results rocket from a long stay in the low 20s, to 45 per cent. Nicky Hager noted that exultant Brash staffers celebrated by using, “facetious kia oras to each other in their emails”.

Five years on, Dr Brash slips almost unnoticed on to Sunday morning television, to confess he got it wrong. What an inadequate non-apology that is, after the hatred and divisiveness he stirred up.

Quite.

So now the Nats have their own version of the F&S to deal with. The wheels are falling off their flagship privatisation programme in all directions. But Key has clearly remembered a bit of history, and decided to go through the motions of taking Maori claims seriously. Think how much easier Key’s job is because he has the luxury of an ethical main opposition party. An opposition that isn’t out there trying to inflame pakeha fears and hatred, inciting racial division for political gain, as National did over the foreshore and seabed.

38 comments on “The luxury of an ethical opposition”

  1. gobsmacked 1

    I don’t really see the point of this post.

    Yes, the Nats were racist bastards. Brash (and Key) and Ansell and the rest. OK, we’ll bear it in mind when we vote in the 2005 elelction.

    Seriously, if the best that can be said is “Labour 2012 – Better than National at their worst”, then the word we’re looking for is not “ethical” but “ineffectual”.

    • Enough is Enough 1.1

      I agree.

      Do we really need to be looking backwards and playing the game of who is least bad.

      The one indisputable fact is the Maori Party wasn’t formed as a protest movement to the National Party. It was formed as a rejection of Labour. Lets not forget that. We are still struggling to gain back the support lost in those days.

      National was bad, is bad and will always be bad. That much is known. Lets not pretend that Labour did the right thing back then.

    • tracey 1.2

      it worked for the nats in 2008 with their no policy sytategy

  2. Carol 2

    Or the luxury of a weak opposition?

  3. Bill 3

    There’s an opposition? Shit. Must have blinked.

    • Dr Terry 3.1

      Fortunately, the Greens are doing the job (but not being thanked for it).

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        well, if air time and newspaper column inches = thanks in the game of politics, the Greens are getting plenty of gratitude.

  4. Ben 4

    Yes, fortunately there is an opposition. The Greens have done an excellent job recently of catching the Government out (Norman on ‘bonus’ Mighty River shares) and embarrassing it (Sage catching out Brownlee on flogging Christchurch public assets). Pity they don’t get much support from Labour.

    • It does look like Greens do their homework, identify the actual target and usually pick the right battles.

      In contrast Labour flails at anything and everything, exaggerates, makes things up and keeps fighting old lost battles.

      It’s ironic that a few days after Charles Chauvel asked for lobbying transparency exemptions for it’s buddy organisations it is claimed that we have “the luxury of an ethical main opposition party”.

      Incidentally the Green’s Holly Walker said NO to Chauvel’s folly.

  5. TighyRighty 5

    An ethical opposition would spell out exactly how much their election policy, the $15hr minimum wage, would cost the country.

    • Pascal's bookie 5.1

      hahaha. Jeez that’s desperate.

      Maybe they should follow the government’s lead and just pull any old number out of their arse. Doesn’t even have to be a ‘best guess’ according to the minister of finance. Just a guess. Get it out there.

    • mike e 5.2

      Treasury has already released that figure before the last election and said the extra spending power would create more jobs

      • Pete George 5.2.1

        No, it said it would mean no job losses if raising the minimum to $13.50 but losses of 5000-6000 if raised to $15, mainly young people, women and ethnic minorities.

        Or maybe you can substantiate your claim.

        It is also likely to reduce work hours, and make it harder for young people to get their first job – if minimum wages are higher businesses tend to employ more experienced people rather than take chances on inexperience.

    • Te Reo Putake 5.3

      No cost, all benefit. Imagine the relief of retailers as their tills start ringing again, when low paid workers have a bit of discretionary dosh to spend. Nice distraction, though, TR. Do you have anything to say about the post?

    • Georgecom 5.4

      Can we first get a clear statement from the PM on the accurate costs of the free shares giveaway. Or how about an accurate estimate of how much the asset sales will raise for the crown.

    • An ethical opposition would spell out exactly how much their election policy, the $15hr minimum wage, would cost the country.

      Someone on Red Alert who is quoting all sorts of data gas claimed:

      The gain to workers is obvious – 500,000 people getting a 10% wage increase…

      It doesn’t take much calculating to work out that that would be a significant additional cost to employers and Government – and would be a significangt inflationary pressure (that would impact disproportionately on those on lower wage rates).

      • Kotahi Tāne Huna 5.5.1

        :roll:

      • tracey 5.5.2

        blah blah inflation… Blah blah, nations the world over are printing money and yet thats not what brought about the current malaise. Stop worshipping at the alter of money and use a different benchmark… Or is that too hard too aspirational

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    There are vast reserves of hoarded capital and unproductive assets sitting on the sidelines not doing shit, currently. Hundreds of billions of dollars worth.

    Mobilise that capital and get it flowing through the economy of communities and towns please.

  7. The wheels are falling off their flagship privatisation programme in all directions. But Key has clearly remembered a bit of history, and decided to go through the motions of taking Maori claims seriously. Think how much easier Key’s job is because he has the luxury of an ethical main opposition party. An opposition that isn’t out there trying to inflame pakeha fears and hatred, inciting racial division for political gain, as National did over the foreshore and seabed.

    You may be right, I haven’t seen parliamentary Labour trying to incite racial division on the water issue (althought I’ve seen minor cases of people with party connections trying). Credit to them for that.

    But I have seen some unethical actions from parliamentary Labour on asset sales, trying to incite division. And what appears to be deliberate misinformation and smear attempts, and trying to create a rich versus poor divide. Presumbaly much of it has been attempts at political gain. It has also been noticable here at times. Sometimes blatant and repeat misinformation (or lies), false accusations, some of it from people known to be a part of Labour.

    Claiming the ethical high ground is a challenging standard to convince and maintain.

  8. For Pete’s sake! There’s a lot of eye-rolling in this thread!

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Time for inquiry into petrol margins
    It’s time for an inquiry into petrol companies as margins are once again at the high levels that prompted concerns late last year, says Labour's Energy Spokesperson Stuart Nash. "Over the December January holiday period, petrol importer margins jumped to… ...
    2 days ago
  • More talk as Auckland congestion worsens
    The main impact of the Government’s agreement with Auckland Council today will be simply to delay still further decisions needed to relieve the city’s traffic congestion, says Labour’s Auckland Issues Spokesperson, Phil Goff. “Government has been aware for more than… ...
    3 days ago
  • Serco inquiry extended
    A two month delay to the Government investigation into prison fight clubs shows the extent of problems within the Serco circus, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “My office received a tsunami of complaints so I’m not surprised the terms… ...
    3 days ago
  • Truck Shops ignore consumer laws
    A damning Commerce Commission report out today highlights the failure of the Government to protect poor and vulnerable families from unscrupulous truck shops, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs Spokesperson David Shearer. “The report found that 31 out of 32 firms it… ...
    3 days ago
  • Taihoa at Ihumatao says Labour
    Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford has called on the Government to rethink its controversial Special Housing Area in Māngere. Auckland Council is today meeting to discuss the development which borders the Otuataua Stonefield Historic Reserve. This project is to get… ...
    3 days ago
  • Figures suggest National deliberately excluded farming
    Figures showing the dairy industry would be categorised as high risk if there were a further five severe injuries within a year, strongly suggests National designed its flawed system to deliberately exclude farming, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway… ...
    3 days ago
  • Bleak report on the state of our children
    A damning conclusion by the Children’s Commissioner today that ‘we don’t know if children are better off as a result of state intervention, but the indications are not good’ should make fixing CYFs a top priority for this Government, says… ...
    3 days ago
  • Dodgy data used to justify axing KiwiSaver kickstart
    National’s agenda to run down KiwiSaver has become even clearer from a scathing critique of the Government’s justification for axing the $1000 kickstart, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Since National came to power they have not only continually undermined… ...
    3 days ago
  • Unsecure website risks Ashley MoBIEson hack
    Experts have raised security concerns that vulnerabilities in MoBIE’s half million-dollar website could lead to a possible Ashley Maddison-style hack, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “The real issue here is not what data is immediately available, but what… ...
    4 days ago
  • Democracy still the loser in Canterbury
    The Government has demonstrated once again how arrogant and out of touch it is in denying Cantabrians the same democratic rights as the rest of the country, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods.  “The Environment Canterbury Bill which has been… ...
    4 days ago
  • Waiver cost still a mystery
    The Government still has no idea what it’s going to cost community and voluntary groups to get a waiver from the fees police will charge to carry out checks on their staff and volunteers, says Labour’s Community and Voluntary spokesperson… ...
    4 days ago
  • China exports fall 27 per cent in a year
    Exports to China have fallen by 27 per cent over the last 12 months - showing that the looming economic slowdown should have been expected by the Government, says Labour’s Economic Development Spokesperson David Clark. “The Chinese economic slowdown should… ...
    4 days ago
  • National should support all families for 26 weeks
    Families with multiple babies, and those born prematurely or with disabilities, are the winners from moves to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks but the Government must give all babies the same head start in life, Labour’s spokesperson for… ...
    4 days ago
  • National’s health and safety shambles puts school camps at risk
    Reports that schools are considering scrapping student camps and tearing out playgrounds highlights just how badly National has managed its health and safety reforms, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Schools have been left completely in the dark about the… ...
    4 days ago
  • National’s asset stripping agenda hits schools
    National’s fire-sale of school houses and land is short-sighted, mean-spirited, and will have huge unintended consequences that we will pay for in years to come, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. Documents obtained by Labour show the Ministry of Education… ...
    4 days ago
  • Takahe massacre supposed to get all New Zealanders involved in conservation
    The Minister’s claim that a  botched cull of one of New Zealand’s rarest birds was a way of getting all New Zealanders involved in conservation is offensive and ludicrous, Labour’s conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson says.  “An email from Minister Maggie… ...
    5 days ago
  • Serco circus rolls on with revelations of fight club practice
    Further revelations that a Serco prison guard was coaching inmates on fight club techniques confirms a fully independent inquiry needs to take place, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The Minister’s statement today that a guard was coaching sparring techniques… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government targets put ahead of students’ education
    The Government must urgently reassess the way it sets NCEA targets after a new report found they are forcing schools to “credit farm” and are undermining the qualification, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “A PPTA report released today says… ...
    5 days ago
  • ER patients in corridors as health cuts bite
    Patients are being forced to wait for hours on beds in corridors as cash strapped hospitals struggle to keep up with budget cuts, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King. “People coming to the emergency room and being forced to wait… ...
    5 days ago
  • Not too late to fix Health and Safety for New Zealand’s workers
    The Government and its minor party supporters are showing an arrogant disregard for workers’ lives by not agreeing to a cross-party solution to the botched Health and Safety bill, Opposition leader Andrew Little says. “Yesterday I wrote to the Prime… ...
    5 days ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Council of Infrastructure Development
    Tēnā Kotou Katoa. Thank you so much for having me along to speak today. Can I begin by acknowledging John Rae, the President, and Stephen Selwood, the chief executive of the Council for Infrastructure Development. ...
    6 days ago
  • Reserve Bank points finger at Govt inaction
    In scathing criticism of the Government’s inaction, the Reserve Bank says Auckland housing supply is growing nowhere near fast enough to make a dent the housing shortage, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. Reserve Bank deputy governor Grant Spencer today… ...
    6 days ago
  • Chickens come home to roost on climate change
    The Government’s gutting of the Emissions Trading Scheme has caused foresters to leave and emissions to rise, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods. “The release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Facts and Figures Report for 2014 on the ETS… ...
    6 days ago
  • Website adds to long list of big spends at MBIE
    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s $560,000 outlay on its new website is further evidence of excessive spending by Steven Joyce on his pet project super ministry, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark says.  “Hot on the heels of… ...
    6 days ago
  • Brownlee warned over EQC repairs but ignored them
    Gerry Brownlee was warned that EQC’s underfloor repairs weren’t being done properly by industry experts, the cross party working group and in public but he arrogantly ignored them all, says Labour’s Earthquake Commission spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove.  “Today’s apology and commitment… ...
    6 days ago
  • Serco wants in on state house sell off
    The Government must keep scandal plagued outsourcing company Serco away from our state housing after their disastrous record running Mt Eden prison, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. "Today it has emerged that at the same time Serco was under… ...
    1 week ago
  • Come clean on Pasifika education centre
    Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iinga needs to come clean and tell the Pasifika communities if he’s working to save the Pasifika Education Centre or shut it down, Labour’s Pasifika spokesperson Su’a William Sio says.  “I’m gutted the Pasifika Education Centre funding… ...
    1 week ago
  • Time for NZTA to work on alternatives to flyover
    The High Court decision rejecting the New Zealand Transport Agency’s attempts to build the Basin Reserve flyover must now mean that NZTA finally works with the community on other options for transport solutions in Wellington, Grant Robertson and Annette King… ...
    1 week ago
  • Shiny new system leads to record truancy
    Record high truancy rates shows the Government’s much-vaunted new attendance system is an abysmal failure, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Data released today shows truancy rates have spiked more than 15 per cent in 2014 and are now at… ...
    1 week ago
  • Woodhouse wrong about quarries
      The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Woodhouse was wrong yesterday when he said limestone quarries were covered by the farcical Health and Safety legislation, says Labour’s Associate Labour spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “He said he ‘understood’ limestone quarries… ...
    1 week ago
  • Taxpayers money spent on culling one of our rarest birds
    It beggars belief that four endangered takahe were killed by incompetent cullers contracted to the Department of Conservation and the Minister must explain this wanton destruction, says Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson. “It must not be forgotten that there are only… ...
    1 week ago
  • Housing NZ must immediately move family
    Housing New Zealand must immediately move a Glen Innes family whose son contracted serious and potentially fatal health problems from the appalling condition of their state house, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Te Ao Marama Wensor and community workers… ...
    1 week ago
  • No understanding of the value of overseas investment
     The Government has now admitted it has absolutely no idea of the actual value of foreign investment in New Zealand, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “It is crucial that the Government starts to understand just what this overseas… ...
    1 week ago
  • Another bridges bribe from Simon Bridges
    Simon Bridges is embroiled in another bridges-for-votes controversy after admitting funding for a replacement bridge in Queenstown is “very much about… the 2017 election”, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Transport Minister is today reported as telling Queenstown locals… ...
    1 week ago
  • Saudi tender process reeks of SkyCity approach
    The tender process for the $6m investment in a Saudi sheep farm reeks like the SkyCity convention centre deal and once again contravenes the government’s own procurement rules, says Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson David Parker. “The $6m contract… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Maori Party should stand up for workers
    The Government’s proposed Health and Safety Reform Bill does not go far enough to protect those in specific industries with the highest rates of workplace deaths, says Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “We are told that Maori workers are more… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister must explain budget blowout
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell must explain a budget blow out at Te Puni Kokiri, after the organisation spent more than 2.5 million dollars over their budget for contractors, says Labour’s Associate Māori Development spokesperson Peeni Henare.  “For the… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Successful effort to raise the issue of GE trees in proposed standard
    Many thousands of people submitted on the proposed National Environmental Standard –  Plantation Forestry (NES-PF).  A vast majority of the public submissions were particularly focussed on the NES having included GE trees in its mandate. People want these provisions removed,… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Fair Share Friday – Thoughts and Reflections
    As part of our Fair Share  campaign, Green MPs have been doing a series of visits to community groups across the country to have conversations about inequality in New Zealand and what communities are experiencing on the ground. I visited… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Crucial Auditor General investigation welcomed
    The Auditor General’s decision to investigate the Saudi sheep scandal is important, necessary and welcome, Labour’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson David Parker says. “The independent functions of the Auditor General are a cornerstone of the New Zealand system of… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • KiwiSaver sign-ups continue to fall
    New KiwiSaver sign-ups in July were 45 per cent below the monthly average, despite John Key saying axing the kickstart “will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver”, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Contact bows to pressure
    Contact Energy’s decision to cut its pre-pay rates to be in line with its customers who pay monthly is good news and the company deserves credit for responding so quickly, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs Spokesperson David Shearer.  “Two months ago… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • I’m pushing for a ‘fair go’ for solar
    My Fair Go For Solar Bill was pulled from the Members’ Ballot last week and is set for a vote in Parliament. In this blog post I explain some of the background to the bill and how it aims to… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Key must explain why Health and Safety Bill pulled
    John Key must explain why his Government is delaying the Health and Safety Bill when Pike River families have travelled to Wellington specifically to register their opposition, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Yesterday afternoon John Key suggested the bill may… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Diving for sustainable scallops
    Last week, there were calls for scallop dredging to be banned in the Marlborough Sounds, following scientific report saying that 70% of the Sounds had been lost from dredging, trawling, and sedimentation from forestry. At the same time we see… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Backdown whiff in state house leasing option
    Bill English’s admission that the Government is looking at leasing large numbers of state houses to non-government providers has the whiff of a backdown, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This is an acknowledgement by Bill English that he has… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing crisis downgrade threatening banking sector
    The out of control Auckland housing market is now threatening the banking sector, with Standard and Poor’s downgrading the credit rating of our banks out of fear of the bubble bursting, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Today we have… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Good money after bad for failed experiment
    The National government are throwing good money after bad with their decision to pump even more funding into their failed charter school experiment, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.  “There are already major problems with several of the first charter… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National borrows Labour’s idea on urban development
    Labour's Associate Environment spokesperson Phil Twyford says he welcomes the Government's adoption of Labour's policy for a National Policy Statement on urban development, and has called on the Government to take up Labour's offer to work together on these issues.… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Toothless OIO never refused a single farmland sale
    The Overseas Investment Office has approved more than 290 consents from foreign investors to buy sensitive land in New Zealand, but has not turned down a single application says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson Stuart Nash  “The Minister of Land information,… ...
    2 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere