Wednesday, September 14, 2016

National's arrogance bites it in the arse

Back in March, National introduced legislation to establish an Ocean Sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands, banning mining and fishing within the entire Kermadec's EEZ. The legislation has an obvious impact on iwi fishing rights and the Sealord settlement. Unfortunately, in typically arrogant fashion, National refused to consult with iwi first. Now, that lack of consultation is coming back to bite it in the arse - not just with court action, but a potential coalition collapse:

A battle between iwi and the Government over the proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is set for court after attempts to find a compromise failed.

The failure to reach an agreement on the matter prompted Maori Fisheries Commission (Te Ohu Kaimoana) chair Jamie Tuuta to send a strong warning to the Government today, saying the Kermadecs issue was "this Government's foreshore and seabed".

Te Ohu said the breach of iwi fishing rights was so serious that the the Maori Party should now consider severing its ties with the National-led Government.

The Maori Party's executive is holding a meeting this evening to discuss its relationship with National.

It didn't have to be this way, and a compromise could have been found which respected existing Treaty settlements while enabling the Ocean sanctuary (this probably would have involved not just the co-management on offer, but also buying out the settlement quota. Which isn't a great precedent, but we want these settlements to stick). National's arrogance has prevented that from happening. Worse, they've poisoned the ground for future marine sanctuaries as well, and turned a group who should support kaitiakitanga into bitter opponents of it - while putting the entire Treaty settlement process in danger.

I can't see the Maori Party supporting the bill, and with ACT pulling its support they now don't have the numbers unless they rely on the opposition. Who are likely to be wary of risking a Treaty settlement. Which means the entire thing now looks unlikely to pass, thanks to National's arrogance.

Heckuva job, you're doing there, National. Way to go with fucking up our most important national relationship.

(And just to reiterate: I want to see a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary (in fact, I want there to be other ocean sanctuaries too). But I want the government to obey the Treaty, keep its word, and treat its Treaty partners with respect too. These aren't incompatible goals, and I would expect a competent government committed to the Treaty to work hard to keep them aligned).