Alf is braced for race relations to become somewhat strained when Kiwis tumble to the implications of the Maori Council’s latest initiative.
The council is prepared to take the Government to court if it does not act in good faith over its Treaty of Waitangi obligations, a spokesman says.
According to the latest intelligence on this matter from Stuff-
The council will today lodge two claims to the Waitangi Tribunal over the Government’s plans to partially sell four state-owned energy companies.
Acting in good faith presumably means acting in a way that will pass muster with the Maori Council.
Hence it is likely to require the Government to do things that risk pissing off other citizens.
Doing things that pass muster with the Maori Council, just as likely, will mean our re-elected National-led Government must temper or change what it said it would do on the campaign hustings.
This perverts our electoral system.
Maori Council spokesman Maanu Paul says the council’s grievances relate to (a) water rights and (2) whether the Crown was acting in good faith as required by law.
The Council was prepared to take the Government to court over both issues, Paul said.
Yeah, but what does it want?
Ah. Here’s the answer.
It wants something for nothing.
The Council is seeking a piece of the 51 per cent share the Government plans to retain in each of the energy companies.
Dividends received would be put into a trust and would go to those who were found to have rights over the water.
In other words, Maanu and his mob doesn’t want to buy shares to get a slice of the action, like the rest of us will have to do.
It apparently wants the Government to hand over a stake and give them some sort of say in what happens.
It said it would vote with the Government, will not sell the shares and wants a representative on the board of each organisation.
Hmm. We Nats have have just done a deal with the Maori Party and given them some Ministerial posts.
But we would be dreaming if we thought they would vote with the Government, whenever Maori interests are at issue.
Indeed, Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell has issued an open call for iwi to challenge the Government over its proposal to drop a Treaty clause from legislation to facilitate the energy company share sales.
“We must take our claims to court to challenge whether the Crown is abiding by those principles, especially since we have yet to settle Treaty claims related to water, and the use of water resources,” Flavell said.
Iwi leaders had given unanimous support to keeping the clause in new legislation for the partial privatisation of four energy companies, he said.
Oh, and Maori Party co-leader and government minister Tariana Turia has written an open leader to say the issue is “worth fighting for”, and something she would “stand strong” on.
In an apparent reference to a threat to walk out on the Maori Party’s second confidence and supply agreement with National, Turia said she was “not one prone to idle threats”.
So what does all this Maori uproar mean?
Among other things, it suggests we are wasting our time conducting general elections.
We had a general election just a few weeks ago and voters returned a Government pledged to sell shares in a clutch of state-owned energy companies.
The income from these sales was intended to help us fund certain projects at the same time as we balance the books and restore a budget surplus (all going well) in 2014/15.
That, at least, is what the electorate was entitled to think would happen.
The Maori Party insists on a Treaty clause in any enabling legislation.
And the Maori Council says it wants things done “in good faith”.
But did you hear what Environment Minister Nick Smith had to say on the matter (which has some bearing on “good faith”)?
…he was disappointed about the claim relating to water rights as the Council had not participated in the freshwater forum at all over the past three years.
There had been extensive consultation with other Maori groups and a national hui was planned for the end of the month.
But this was the first contact Smith had with the Council.
“The Government has had very constructive engagement…in improving New Zealand’s management of freshwater and it’s a bit out of left field that the Maori Council has not engaged at all in that process but is now wanting to hope off to court.”
So the Maori Council has steered clear of the freshwater forum and its consultations.
And Maori voters stayed away in droves from the ballot box at the election.
Obviously they have tumbled to the fact they don’t have to bother with all that democratic voting and consulting and submitting to to get what they want.
Not when they can hire a barrister.