Monday, August 16, 2004

More on a "Treaty Council"

Dr Alex Frame has been kind enough to provide me with a copy of his submission on the foreshore and seabed settlement, in which he proposes the idea of management by a "Treaty Council". It's a short but interesting read. Those worried that this sort of co-management will erode our customary right to go to the beach shouldn't be; the proposal is quite explicit that

the Council's management of the estate shall be such as to accord to all New Zealand citizens the greatest degree of public access, enjoyment and use, without discrimination on grounds of race, origin, belief or status, compatible with the Three Articles of the Treaty of Waitangi, the general laws of New Zealand, and the efficient management of the estate.

[Emphasis added]

The Council would be forbidden from selling the beaches, or from granting any lease with a period of longer than 20 years. While its not stated (this is a skeleton proposal, after all), ports and other long-term developments could easily be permitted by Act of Parliament. Current law requires this if the crown wants to sell any part of the foreshore; that bar could easily be lowered to the granting of longer-term leases.

The overall approach is one of co-operation and localism. The council would co-opt members where local issues were at stake, and not just from the Maori community. The aim would be to apply the broad principles stated above to produce a local solution for local circumstances, rather than trying to insist that "one size fits all".

As I said earlier, I like this proposal. It's co-operative rather than adverserial, has great symbolism, and allows all parties to save face. I just hope that the government has the courage to change its mind and adopt it, rather than trying to plough on with its current plans.