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

  • Broadband failure sucks up more cash
    The Commerce Committee has blocked an inquiry into the $300 million rural broadband initiative (RBI) despite mounting evidence it’s a massive policy failure and waste of money, says Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran. “The Government is about to spend an… ...
    13 hours ago
  • TISA – Another secret trade deal you may never have heard of
      This post first appeared on The Daily Blog You’ve probably heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) by now and the widespread concerns around it but what about the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) also being currently negotiated by… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    19 hours ago
  • Health chickens coming home to roost as Dunedin loses right to train doctor...
    News today that Dunedin Hospital has lost orthopaedic training accreditation is a major blow and proves the Government’s prevarication is having devastating consequences, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Losing orthopaedic advanced training is serious. There is a knock on… ...
    2 days ago
  • $74,000 quarterly rise shows crisis out of control
    New figures out today showing Auckland house prices have spiked by a massive $74,000 in the past quarter is further evidence the city’s housing crisis has spiralled out of control, Labour’s “In spite of constant announcements and photo opportunities from… ...
    2 days ago
  • Democracy for Nauru now
    Murray McCully must send the strongest possible message to the Nauruan Government that New Zealand does not condone its actions given the disturbing developments there, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “Right now we are seeing Nauru stripped of… ...
    2 days ago
  • Recovery needs more than a rebrand
    Today’s announcement of new governance arrangements for Canterbury seems to be nothing more than a fresh coat of paint on the same old approach, says Labour’s Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokesperson Ruth Dyson. “The Canterbury Recovery has been too slow, with… ...
    2 days ago
  • Copper decision a victory for status quo, not Kiwi households
    New Zealanders hoping for cheaper copper broadband will be disappointed by the Commerce Commission’s latest decision in the long running saga to determine the price of copper, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran says. “In an apparent attempt to appease everyone,… ...
    2 days ago
  • It’s time for hard decisions in the Bay
     The Ruataniwha dam project is turning into a huge white elephant as the economics fail to stack up, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri.  “Ruataniwha simply doesn’t make economic sense when you look at other major irrigation schemes around the… ...
    2 days ago
  • More testing won’t lift student achievement
    Hekia Parata’s latest plan to subject school students to even more testing and assessment won’t do anything to lift the educational achievement of the kids who are struggling, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “New Zealand school students are already… ...
    2 days ago
  • Bad week for NZ economy gets worse
    The bad news for the New Zealand economy got worse this morning with the 8th successive drop in dairy prices at this morning’s global dairy auction, again exposing the absence of any Plan B from the National Government, Labour’s Finance… ...
    2 days ago
  • System failing to protect women and children from family violence
    Last week we called for mandatory child safety investigations in domestic violence cases. This came after the coronial inquiry into the deaths of Bradley and Ellen Livingstone and the verdict in the trial of the west Auckland boys charged with… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Backers banking on social bonds cash?
    The Government is refusing to say what the $29 million it has set aside for its controversial social bonds programme is for, raising suspicions it is an upfront payment to the project backers, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A… ...
    3 days ago
  • Plastic Free July
    Today is the start of Plastic Free July. Since its inception in Perth, Western Australia four years ago, more and more people and organisations from around the world have joined the call to refuse single use plastic products. Nearly all… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    3 days ago
  • State house sell off Bill gives extraordinary powers
    The Government is about to give Ministers extraordinary powers to take direct personal control of selling state houses, exempting Ministers from normal legal requirements and leaving the sale process wide open for corruption, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The… ...
    3 days ago
  • Cash for charter schools, mould for state schools
    At a time when state schools are struggling in old, cold, mouldy buildings and can barely make ends meet, the National Government is shovelling cash at charter schools which aren’t even spending the funding on kids’ education, Labour’s Education spokesperson… ...
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand needs a wise response to climate change
    Today in Parliament I got to hear from a group of New Zealanders who are concerned for the future of our country. Called Wise Response, the group is a broad coalition of academics, engineers, lawyers, artists, sportspeople and others who… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    3 days ago
  • No alternative as waste scheme trashed
    Nick Smith must explain how he is going to prevent contamination of New Zealand’s ground and water with liquid and hazardous waste after scrapping the only monitoring scheme and offering no replacement, says Labour’s Environment Spokesperson Megan Woods. “From today,… ...
    3 days ago
  • Flawed system rates death traps as safe
    ACC Minister Nikki Kaye needs to come clean about what really lies behind the reclassification of 18 vehicles in her new motor vehicle registration system introduced today, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. "New Zealanders deserve the truth about the… ...
    3 days ago
  • Tiwai Smelter and 800 workers left in limbo
     Workers at Tiwai smelter and the people of Southland have once again been left in limbo over their future in the ongoing debacle over whether the plant stays open, says Labour’s Leader Andrew Little.  “It’s not good enough that after two years of… ...
    3 days ago
  • New twist in state house sell-off saga
    The Government has opened the door to buyers of state houses simply being landlords and not required to provide social services, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The Prime Minister said at his post-Cabinet press conference buyers would not “have… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government fees will hit charities hard
    National’s decision to ignore the concerns of charities will see the voluntary sector face hundreds of thousands of dollars in new costs if the Policing (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill passes, says Labour's Community and Voluntary Sector spokesperson Poto Williams. “National’s… ...
    4 days ago
  • Four out of ten for Simon’s Bridges
    The Transport Authority’s decision to fund only four of the 10 bridges promised in National’s shameless Northland by-election bribe is a huge embarrassment for Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “After one by-election poll showed they… ...
    4 days ago
  • Falling consents adding to Auckland housing woes
    Falling numbers of building consents being issued in Auckland will add to the city’s housing shortfall and fuel skyrocketing house prices, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford “The Productivity Commission found there was a shortfall of around 32,000 houses by the… ...
    4 days ago
  • So Mr English, do you have a plan?
    DIpping confidence about jobs, wages and shrinking exports are highlighting the lack of a plan from the government to diversify the economy and build sustainable growth, Grant Robertson  Labour’s Finance Spokesperson said. " Data released over the last week… ...
    4 days ago
  • Serious risks to tenants and assets in sell-off
    Overseas evidence shows there are serious risks around the Government's plan to sell off state houses to social housing providers, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “In the Netherlands – where community housing providers supply the majority of social housing –… ...
    4 days ago
  • Land of milk and money
    Kiwi families are paying over the top prices for their milk and someone is creaming off big profits, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “In 2011 the Government told us high New Zealand milk prices were a natural result… ...
    5 days ago
  • MoBIE largesse doesn’t stop with TVs and hair-straighteners
    The number of MoBIE staff earning more than $150,000 has risen 23 per cent in just a year, Labour’s Economic Development Spokesperson David Clark says. Documents obtained from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show there are now nearly… ...
    6 days ago
  • English wants to flog state houses to Aussies
    Bill English’s admission that he would sell hundreds of New Zealand’s state houses to the Australians is the latest lurch in the Government’s stumbling, half-baked housing policy, Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Bill English should face reality and admit his… ...
    7 days ago
  • Exports continue to fall as Government fails to diversify
    The Government quickly needs a plan to diversify our economy after new figures show that exports are continuing to fall due to the collapse in dairy exports, Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Dairy exports fell 28 per cent compared… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government inaction leads to blurring of roles
    The Treasury wouldn’t have had to warn the Reserve Bank to stick to its core functions if the Government had taken prompt and substantial measures to rein in skyrocketing Auckland house prices, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The problems… ...
    1 week ago
  • Courthouse closures hitting regions
    The Government’s decision to shut down up to eight regional courthouses, some supposedly only temporarily for seismic reasons, looks unlikely to be reversed, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“The move has hit these regions hard, but appears to be a… ...
    1 week ago
  • A Victory for Te Tiriti o Waitangi
    This week my partner, who has a number of professions, was doing an archaeological assessment for a District Council. He showed me the new rules around archaeologists which require them to demonstrate “sufficient skill and competency in relation to Māori… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Tough bar set for Ruataniwha dam
     Today’s final decision by the Tukituki Catchment Board of Inquiry is good news for the river and the environment, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. “Setting a strict level of dissolved nitrogen in the catchment’s waters will ensure that the… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister for Women and National missing the mark – part two
    The Minister for Women was in front of the select committee yesterday answering questions about her plans for women. Some useful context is that we used to have a Pay and Employment Equity Unit within the then Department of Labour… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Lavish penthouse spend confirms culture of extravagance
    At the same time thousands of New Zealanders are being locked out of the property market, the Government is spending up on a lavish New York penthouse for its diplomats, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. News that taxpayers… ...
    1 week ago
  • Māori Television exodus cause for concern
    The shock departure of yet another leading journalist from the Native Affairs team raises further concern the Board and Chief Executive are dissatisfied with the team’s editorial content, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “Annabelle Lee is an experienced… ...
    1 week ago
  • Million-plus car owners to pay too much ACC
    More than a million car owners will pay higher ACC motor vehicle registration than necessary from July, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “During a select committee hearing this morning it was revealed that car owners would have been charged… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill will restore democracy to local councils
    A new Labour Member’s Bill will restore democracy to local authorities and stop amalgamations being forced on councils. Napier MP Stuart Nash’s Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Bill will be debated by Parliament after being pulled from the… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister for Women again misses the mark – part one
    Yesterday I asked the Minister for Women about the government’s poor performance on it’s own target of appointing women to 45% of state board positions. I challenged why she’d put out a media release celebrating progress this year when the… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Banks enter Dragon’s Den in pitch for Government’s mental health experi...
    Overseas banks and their preferred providers were asked to pitch their ideas for bankrolling the Government’s social bonds scheme to a Dragon’s Den-style panel, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. Dragon’s Den was a reality television series where prospective ‘entrepreneurs’… ...
    1 week ago
  • Global Mode bullying won’t stop people accessing content
    It’s disappointing that strong-arm tactics from powerful media companies have meant Global Mode will not get its day in court. Today a settlement was reached terminating the Global Mode service, developed in New Zealand by ByPass Network Services and used… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • More questions – why was the Former National Party President involved wit...
    Today in Parliament Murray  McCully said the reason Michelle Boag was involved in 2011 in the Saudi farm scandal was in her capacity as a member of the New Zealand Middle East Business Council. The problem with that answer is… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister must explain Maori TV interference
    Te Ururoa Flavell must explain why he told Maori TV staff all complaints about the CEO must come to him – months before he became the Minister responsible for the broadcaster, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Sources have told… ...
    1 week ago
  • KiwiSaver takes a hammering after the end of kick-start
    National seems hell bent on destroying New Zealand’s saving culture given today’s news that there has been a drop in new enrolments for KiwiSaver, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “New enrolments for the ANZ Investments KiwiSaver scheme have plunged… ...
    1 week ago
  • Straight answers needed on CYF role
    The Government needs to explain the role that Child, Youth and Family plays in cases where there is evidence that family violence was flagged as a concern, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Arden says. “The fact that CYF is refusing to… ...
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister confuses his political interests with NZ’s interest
    The Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament yesterday that a Minister who paid a facilitation payment to unlock a free trade agreement would retain his confidence is an abhorrent development in the Saudi sheep scandal, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.  ...
    1 week ago
  • #raisethequota
    Last Saturday was World Refugee Day. I was privileged to spend most of my day with the amazing refugee communities in Auckland. Their stories have been inspiring and reflect the ‘can-do’ Kiwi spirit, even though they come from all different… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Dairy conversions causing more pollution than ever, report shows
    The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) released two reports on freshwater quality and management last Friday. The water quality report shows that dairy conversions are hurting water quality and says that despite great efforts with fencing and planting, large… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Employers want urgent action on health and safety
    Moves by National to water down health and safety reforms have been slammed by employers – the very group the Government claims is pushing for change, says Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Relations Iain Lees-Galloway. “The Employers and Manufacturers’ Association has… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour calls on all parties to end coat-tailing
    Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway is encouraging all parties to support his Bill to end the coat-tailing provision when it is debated in Parliament this week.  “New Zealanders have sent MPs a clear message. An opinion poll found more than 70… ...
    2 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere