Monday, September 17, 2012

So much for good faith II

on Thursday, Maoridom gathered at Turangawaewae to discuss a joint negotiating position over water and asset sales. The result was a call for a national settlement to resovle the issue. The next day john Key gave his response, rejecting any prospect of such a settlement - and today he's threatening to nationalise water, foreshore and seabed-style, so he can sell it to his rich mates.

Which I think ends any pretence of good faith on the government's part. Unilaterally rejecting the other party's position before negotiations even start is not good faith. Nor are threats of confiscation. And good faith is important here, not just because it is decent, but also because it is required by law. New Zealand Maori Council v. Attorney-General (1987) (the "lands" case), in identifying the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi on which the case was based, found that one of them was a duty of partnership, which required the government to act reasonably and with the "utmost good faith". Those same principles are in play here. The government, in carrying out powers under the Mixed Ownership Model (such as, oh, deciding to sell stuff which is subject to a Treaty claim), is not permitted to act in a manner inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty. If the government refuses to obey that law (a law of its own making), then the courts will force them to, by enjoining any sale until a settlement is reached. it is that simple.