Thursday, July 22, 2004

Treaty time-limits

What do I think of the suggestion that the government is considering a cutoff for lodging historical Treaty claims? I think it's a bad idea. As I've said before, it's great to have a goal, such as settling everything in ten or fifteen years, but having a cutoff date after which no claims can be filed is likely to lead to injustice and allegations that the process is being manipulated to avoid righting past wrongs.

The process of historical investigation surrounding Treaty claims takes time, and while it can be sped up (by for example increasing resources and hiring more historians), it is something that has to be done properly. While I am keen to see historical claims settled as quickly as possible, I want the government to get it right. It should not be needlessly rushed to meet some arbitrary politically imposed date at the expense of justice.

As for National's claim that they would do it in five years, if it was properly resourced and they committed the funds required for just settlements, then it would of course be a Good Thing. But I think that we have very good reasons to doubt their sincerity on this, and I'd rather we took our time than rush things and (deliberately) make a hash of it.