Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In the ballot XXIX

Another batch of Member's Bills currently in the ballot. Previous batches are indexed here:

Education (Kōhanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Māori, and Early Childhood Standards) Amendment Bill (Te Ururoa Flavell): This would amend the Education Act 1989 to recognise Kōhanga Reo in legislation and require the Minister of Education to consult with Te Runanga Nui when designating schools as Kura Kaupapa Māori. It would also weaken regulatory standards around licensed early childhood services to the level of "guidelines" to "better allow innovation", which sounds like a generally bad idea - though without a full copy of the bill, I am unable to judge how bad, or which exact regulations they wish to weaken.

Resource Management (Enhancement of Iwi Management Plans) Amendment Bill (Nanaia Mahuta): This would amend the RMA to give greater weight to iwi management plans. Currently regional councils and territorial authorities must take such documents into account when preparing their regional policy statements and district plans. The bill would strengthen that to "recognise and provide for", a technical change which imposes greater obligations without making consistency an over-riding concern. By front-loading consistency into the planning documents, the bill aims to reduce the overall number of objections to consents.

The bill would also encourage local authorities to include a statement of resource management issues of concern to local iwi in their plans, just as for regional councils. Nothing prevents them from doing this at the moment - its arguably covered by s75(2)(a) and the catchall of 75(2)(h) - but mentioning it explicitly in legislation encourages them to do so, rather than ignoring them.

Te Ture Whenua Maori Amendment Bill (Metiria Turei): The Green Party's response to the Foreshore and Seabed Act review, this bill would repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 in its entirety, and amend the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993/Maori Land Act 1993 to prevent the Maori Land Court from issuing a vesting order (converting Maori customary land to freehold title) over foreshore, seabed, or lake and river beds. The net result is to restore the right of access to the courts removed by the Foreshore and Seabed Act, allowing iwi and hapu ownership to be recognised where appropriate, but preventing subdivision and onselling. It's a far less complicated unravelling than the Maori Party's offering, and I'm not sure if it will be enough. I'm also unsure about the ban on vesting orders; while various Maori groups have said they want their mana recognised and have no intention of onselling any land gained, an actual ban in legislation discriminates on the basis of race, in that Pakeha owners of foreshore - and there are a few - face no such prohibition. While I don't want to see any further privatisation of the foreshore, IMHO this would be better dealt with through a settlement process rather than by enacting another discriminatory law.

As usual, I'll have more bills as I acquire them.