Today Parliament sits in full for the first time since the second earthquake. There’s lots to attend to: the government is required to explain the state of national emergency, change the census law, create a one-off provincial holiday, and alter the law on school zoning. But it looks like the Nats are more concerned with slipping through their foreshore and seabed bill.
As I/S at No Right Turn points out, prior to the earthquake the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill was well down the Order Paper. Now, it’s jumped up the a place where it should be debated this week. As I/S says: “They have, post-earthquake, consciously decided to prioritise it. If it’s not their intention to use the earthquake as cover, they’re doing a bloody good impression of it.”
Remember, this law is meant to be the full and final settlement of the foreshore and seabed issue. Slipping it through with a bare majority (58 Nats and 4 Maori Party MPs – maybe Peter Dunne) under the cover of the quake is hardly a recipe for a stable and enduring solution.
It’s perplexing that National doesn’t appear to have reassessed any of its policies. It is just using the earthquake as cover for things wouldn’t have thought it could get away with before, which is the most cynical politics – the shock doctrine.
Just as the earthquake was an opportunity for Key to become a statesman, so the quake was a chance for the Nats to rethink long-term, as such a massive rebuild requires. Instead, their moves have been labeled ‘opportunistic’ by the media and ministers are spending too much time putting out PR fires arising from their own pig-headed comments.
Why has National said it remains committed to public sector reforms, an expensive game of musical chairs, with few chairs left after all the restructuring stops, and asset sales, which even in National’s rose-tinted scenario are enormous and complicated transactions that create only marginal benefits?
Why not take a deep breath and reassess what the country needs in the light of these changed circumstances? I doubt tinkering with welfare and the public service would rank as a good use of government’s time, money, and resources in such an analysis. Nor would rushing a new foreshore and seabed law through while no-one is paying attention be a priority.