Presenter: National used to have a date, didn’t they?
John Key: No, what they said was they wanted the claims lodged, and they’d like to see them cleared up by a certain time, but that’s not necessarily guaranteed, I mean, no one can guarantee that, including the current Government, and the reason is that you have to go through a process, and you need durability in that process. (TVNZ’s Breakfast, 5 March 2008)
Funnily though, I think others in his caucus are pretty clear there was a timeline:
Presenter: National MP Georgina te Heuheu is confident a five-year timeframe for settling the country’s Treaty settlements is achievable. It comes after the National Caucus recently reassessed its Treaty settlements process, among other issues, in Taupo. Miss te Heuheu says the party believes if it wins the next election then all claims will be settled by 2013.
Georgina te Heuheu: Our policy going into the election last year had us setting the date for settlement of claims in 2010. We didn’t make it into government so, from a very practical point of view, we’ve got to review that. So what we’ve said is that we’ll set the time for settling claims five years after taking office. (RNZ, 9 Feb 2006)
Or was it that Ms te Heuheu was mistaken? Well not according to (then) National party leader Dr Brash:
Dr Brash:…in the election campaign we said look we want all claims lodged by the end of 2006; all claims paid out fully, fairly and finally by 2010. And that seemed to us to be highly desirable to accelerate that whole process and get it finished. Now of course we didn’t win the election and the question is, well given that we may well not become government until 2008 is 2010 still a realistic deadline.
Presenter: It makes sense that you can’t do anything about Treaty settlement time frames unless you’re in power
Brash: Well we don’t know when it will be. So instead of saying five years beyond 2008 we said five years from when we become government, and that could be later this year or next year. (Radio Live, 9 February 2006)
But then we have seen other examples of policy on the hoof where his caucus was not included – repeal of clause 59 springs to mind! And as with that example I’m not sure his colleagues will feel entirely comfortable defending their new party position.