web analytics

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.


History

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

      • 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

        🙄

      • 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


History

  • Crime states paint a dismal picture
    The crime statistics released today paint a picture of crime on the increase as Judith Collin’s promise of more front line cops fails to materialise, says Labour’s Police spokesman Stuart Nash “There were over 9500 more burglaries, almost 4,000 more ...
    18 hours ago
  • Nick Smith must urgently intervene to avoid housing delays
    National must urgently legislate to make the unitary plan operable while allowing a high court challenge against to make its way through the legal process, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland desperately needs this plan right away to ...
    2 days ago
  • Kiwis drowning in debt in out of control housing market
    New statistics reveal Kiwis are taking on record levels of debt in order to get into the housing market, as prices continue to outstrip incomes, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Stats NZ has today revealed real estate loans ...
    2 days ago
  • Planning reform report a turning point?
     A joint report from business and environmentalists on the Resource Management laws could be a turning point for both planning and environmental protection, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker.  “The four organisations, the Environmental Defence Society, the Property Council, the ...
    2 days ago
  • Privatisation and deregulation not the solution
    Deregulation, privatisation, and shifting more of the cost onto students isn’t the way to address inequality, lack of innovation and declining participation in tertiary education, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    2 days ago
  • Homeownership out of reach for middle income Aucklanders
    New figures show that even middle income Aucklanders are finding themselves unable to afford to buy a first home as National’s housing crisis rolls on, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “New data released by interest.co.nz shows that the lower ...
    3 days ago
  • More toilet cleaners or more tradespeople?
    The Government is not doing enough to help the construction and trades sector meet its workforce demand, instead steering students towards cleaning toilets, says Labour’s Skills and Training spokesperson Jenny Salesa. ...
    3 days ago
  • More cracks appear in health funding
    News that the Waikato District Health Board could lose $2.7 million from its budget because it failed to make an elective target is downright disturbing, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.  “This is a DHB that has tried ...
    3 days ago
  • Student debt cracks the billion mark
    New figures showing that student loan defaulters have now clocked over $1 billion in debt highlights National's failure to combat spiralling student loan debt, Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. "Threatening to arrest returning student loan borrowers at the ...
    4 days ago
  • Foreign Students just a commodity to National
    National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi has confirmed that his party sees international students as nothing more than a commodity, says Labour's Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. "Mr Bakshi’s appalling comparison of some students to 'faulty fridges' that should be returned to ...
    5 days ago
  • Tolley’s spin on Education spend doesn’t add up
    National’s spin about school funding won’t wash with parents who are paying more and more of the cost of their kids’ education every year, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “All the spin in the world can’t hide the fact ...
    5 days ago
  • National not facing up to export challenge
    “The latest export data from Statistics New Zealand paints a picture of an economy which is not paying its way in the world, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Exports fell 9% - led by milk powder exports falling to ...
    5 days ago
  • Correction over Talley’s statement
    Labour’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway has been advised by AFFCO Ltd that AFFCO is not advertising for staff in the Manawatu through MSD as stated in a press statement released earlier today.  “I have been advised by AFFCO that ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister, cut your losses – withdraw this doomed Bill
    Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga’s request for a five month extension on the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) is an admission that the Bill is fundamentally flawed, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson ...
    1 week ago
  • Coleman’s cuts create crisis
    Mental health services in New Zealand are in a state of crisis with Youthline saying that calls for extreme depression doubled last year, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.  “About 150 young Kiwis are missing out on help ...
    1 week ago
  • Government helping Talley’s to break workers
    The Ministry for Social Development appears to be assisting Talley’s-Affco replace experienced workers effectively locked out by the company, say Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni and Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “MSD is advertising for meat processing workers for ...
    1 week ago
  • Electives lag due to $1.7 billion hole
    The lag in hip and knee replacements is a direct consequence of the Government’s $1.7 billion underfunding of health, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.  “A comprehensive study by the University of Otago says that the rate of ...
    1 week ago
  • Speech to Master Builders’ Constructive conference
    Today’s all about being Constructive. And that is good because I believe there is a hunger out there for positive solutions. We must be able to believe there can be a better future. ...
    1 week ago
  • Māori Party housing plan complete failure
    The Māori Party’s housing plan to put more Māori into more homes has been a complete failure with fewer than five loans granted per year, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    1 week ago
  • Fund IRD better to go after tax avoiders
    National’s Tax Working Group used the following graph (p30) in 2010 as part of their justification to cut the top tax rate. The big peaks around the top tax threshold were evidence of a suspiciously high number of taxpayers ...
    GreensBy robert.ashe
    1 week ago
  • Pasifika youth ignored by the Government
    The Adolescent Health Research Group’s new report on the wellbeing of young Pacific people shines a spotlight on the Government’s failure  to deliver any “brighter future” for them, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.  “Their research shows ...
    1 week ago
  • Police in the provinces are dissatisfied
    Police in the cities of Gisborne, Napier and Hastings are a lot more unhappy than their big city cousins says Labour’s Police Spokesman Stuart Nash.     “In fact the top four districts for enjoyable work within NZ Police are ...
    1 week ago
  • Govt action needed after Wheeler holds
    The Reserve Bank Governor’s warning that “excessive house price inflation” is posing a risk to financial stability puts the pressure back on the Government to take action to address the housing crisis, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler’s ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister confirms – new ministry only about abuse
    ...
    1 week ago
  • Silver Ferns Farms decision a tragedy
    The rubber stamping by the Overseas Investment Office of the Shanghai Maling buyout of Silver Fern Farms is a sorry day for the once proud New Zealand meat sector, says Labour’s spokesperson for Primary Industries, Damien O’Connor.  “Generations of Kiwis ...
    1 week ago
  • Benching Nick Smith first step to Kermadec solution
    Side-lining Nick Smith must be the first step in sorting out the Government's Kermadec debacle, says Labour's Fisheries Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene. “Last week Labour called for Nick Smith to be removed from further negotiations with Te Ohu Kaimoana over the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Parents, schools, teachers oppose bulk funding
    Overwhelming opposition to the National Government’s school bulk funding proposal is unsurprising and Hekia Parata should now unequivocally rule out proceeding with the idea, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Bulk funding could only lead to bigger class sizes or ...
    2 weeks ago
  • MBIE gives up on enforcing the law
      The Government must provide labour inspectors with the resources they need to enforce basic employment law after reports that MBIE is only prosecuting the worst cases, says Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “Today’s news that MBIE ...
    2 weeks ago
  • West Coast population declines amid bleak economic forecast
    Despite the country experiencing record population growth, the number of people living in the West Coast fell, highlighting struggles in the region from low commodity prices and a poor economic forecast, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “The latest ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Recovery roadblocks cause for concern
    Strong pressure on mental health services, a flagging local economy and widespread issues with dodgy earthquake repairs are all causes for concern for people in Canterbury according to a new survey, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Today the CDHB’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Motel purchase must not kick people onto the street
    The Government’s purchase of a South Auckland motel to house the homeless must come with a promise that the current long term tenants will not be kicked out onto the streets, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “It is bizarre ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not everyone singing along to so-called rock star economy
    The Westpac McDermott Miller Confidence Survey shows there is serious unease about the economy’s ability to deliver benefits to many New Zealanders, despite the Government trumpeting headline figures, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “According to this survey a significantly ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Youth no better off under National’s “guarantee”
    John Key’s Youth Guarantee is such a spectacular failure that those who undertake the programme are more likely to end up on a benefit and less likely to end up in full-time employment than those who don’t, Leader of the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More low-skilled students becoming residents
    New figures showing international students now make up nearly 40 per cent of all principal applicants approved for New Zealand residency and that their skill level has fallen dramatically, are further evidence that National’s immigration system is broken, says Labour’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 35% of offshore speculators paying no tax
    Offshore investors are aggressively exploiting tax breaks to pay no tax on their rental properties according to IRD data released by Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “35% of offshore investors are paying no tax on their properties, and are pocketing ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Friday fish dump stinks
    This government has dumped bad news on a Friday to try to avoid political scrutiny in Parliament, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • OECD report card: National must try harder
    The OECD report on education shows there’s much more to be done for young Kiwis, Labour’s education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kermadec stoush shows Maori Party double-standards
    The Māori Party’s reaction to the trampled Treaty rights and the Government’s lack of consultation on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary reeks of the same arrogant mismanagement of the unpopular Maori land reforms, Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Flawed fish dumping calls
    The finding that MPI failed to properly enforce the law even when it had evidence of fish dumping seriously damages the trust and credibility of the Ministry, the industry and this Government, Labour's Fisheries Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Sidestepping Smith should be side-lined
    Nick Smith's arrogance and disrespect towards Māori is putting the future of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary at risk and he needs to excuse himself from further negotiations with Te Ohu Kaimoana, Labour's Fisheries spokesperson Rino Tirikatene says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must respond to cash for jobs scam
    Urgent Government action is required to halt  the emerging cash-for-jobs immigration scandal that is taking hold in New Zealand says Labour’s Immigration Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “Stories of rogue immigration agents scamming thousands of dollars from migrant workers are just further ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government dragging its feet on surgical mesh
    Jonathan Coleman is dragging his feet over any action to protect New Zealanders from more disasters with surgical mesh, says Health Spokesperson Annette King.  “The Government’s pathetic response is to claim all will be fixed by a new regime to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s baby number app goes gangbusters
    An interactive tool that celebrates Labour’s achievements in health over the decades has become an online hit, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Since the tool was launched last night, 18 thousand people have used it to find their baby ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Real disposable income falls in last three months
    Kiwis are working harder than ever but real disposable income per person fell in the last quarter thanks to record population increases, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson said. ‘In Budget 2016 the National Government said that what mattered most for ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Baby number app celebrates Labour achievements
    Labour has launched an interactive tool that allows New Zealanders to take a look back at our achievements in health over the decades, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Today is the 78th anniversary of the Social Security Act 1938, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Legal experts unpick Māori land reforms
    One of New Zealand’s top law firms has joined the chorus of legal experts heavily critical of the controversial Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill, adding more weight to the evidence that the reforms fall well beneath the robust legal standards ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Industries most reliant on immigration worst offenders
    The industries most reliant on immigration are the worst offenders when it comes to meeting their most basic employment obligations, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “The industries that are most reliant on immigration are Hospitality, Administration, Agriculture, Forestry and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time to remove law that discriminates against sole parents
    It’s time to repeal a harmful law that sanctions those who do not name the other parent of their child, Labour’s Social Development Spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Every week, 17,000 children are missing out because their sole parent is being ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government handling of Kermadecs threatens Treaty rights
    ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister should give Police Minister some backbone
    The Prime Minister should condemn the ridiculously light sentence given to Nikolas Delegat for seriously assaulting a police woman, Labour’s Police spokesman Stuart Nash says. ...
    2 weeks ago


History


History


History