Monday, August 14, 2017

National resorts to racism on water

National knows it can't defeat the Labour-Green policy on water charging on fairness grounds, so they're now appealing to racism, with Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson scaremongering that making farmers pay their fair share will mean reopening historic Treaty settlements:

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson is warning that Labour's water taxes could force existing full-and-final Treaty of Waitangi settlements to be opened for renegotiation with iwi.

He said the policy overturned accepted policy of successive Labour and National Governments of the past 25 years that no one owned the water.

Governments applying a tax on water was an assertion of Crown ownership "and then that gives rise to the counter assertion that Maori own water".

"They are dicing with death, quite frankly," he told the Herald.

"It opens a complete Pandora's Box. I'd like to know [if] it is Labour Party policy that, after all the work we've done, both political parties over 25 years, are they proposing to re-open treaty settlements so that this matter can be looked at?

Except of course it wouldn't, for the simple reason that those settlements cover historic claims. A unilateral government assertion of water ownership would be a fresh injustice, and simply not covered by those settlements.

But Finlayson's dishonesty gets worse, because National has itself recognised that it needs to settle the issue with iwi. Their Cabinet paper on the Land and Water Forum's mock consultation notes that "Cabinet also agreed on June 2 [CAB Min (09) 19/7A] that there is a need to make real progress in the unresolved area of Māori rights and interests in water", which is why the iwi leadership group has been involved in the entire process. They have considered and rejected a nationwide "Waterlords" settlement which would resolve any issues around the Treaty and water allocation and pricing, primarily because they want to impede any progress in that area in order to continue subsidising farmers (or rather, letting them effectively own and sell the public's water, without having to pay for it).

This isn't a "Pandora's box". The model for an easy, full and final settlement to resolve this exists, and iwi are keen. What is lacking is goodwill from the government to sign it. And Finlayson knows all this - so he is actively trying to mislead the New Zealand public about it, trying to appeal to the racism of rednecks in order to protect the stolen "rights" of a privileged few. And to be honest, I thought he was a better person than that. But I guess now that English is back in charge, National is back to the same racism he ran on in 2002. He lost then; lets hope for the sake of New Zealand that he loses again.