Monday, June 28, 2010

David Round: The Maori Sovereignty Movement

Here are some of the ideas about Maori sovereignty as expressed by various Maori leaders in Maori Sovereignty, The Maori Perspective (ed. Hineani Elder, Hodder Moa Becket, Auckland 1995). I mention many of these people in the chapter on sovereignty in my 1998 Truth Or Treaty? Do not think that in the years since then the talk has become moderate or reasonable. It may sometimes now be expressed a little less angrily ~ the ideas are placed before the Waitangi Tribunal now, and are supported by a Maori academic ~ but the policy is still exactly the same. It is just that because now they seem to be making a little headway, there is, for the moment anyway, no need for the aggro. It will still be applied now and then when it looks as though the victim shows any signs of reluctance.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Allan Peachey: What About The Universities?

One of the things that I have been doing in recent weeks has been chairing Education and Science Select Committee hearings into the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill. This is a private member’s bill that would introduce voluntary student union membership into New Zealand. Under present legislation membership of student unions is compulsory although provision exists for students at a tertiary institution to vote to have membership of their student union to be voluntary. That, for example, is what has happened at Auckland University. I don’t want to say any more about that until the Select Committee hearings are completed and a recommendation returned to Parliament.

Frank Newman: Political monopoly

The other day I had occasion to listen to the Minister of Finance the Hon Bill English speaking on the role of think-tanks in shaping government policy. I wish I could say it was a thoroughly good and enjoyable speech. Unfortunately I can’t because it wasn’t. In fact it hardly rated as a speech at all as it offered nothing of insight. Its content was largely directed to acknowledging the host, the Business Round Table (no doubt many of whom are donors to the National Party cause).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ron Smith: War and Humanitarian Restraint in the Contemporary World

The first Geneva Convention of 1864 began a period in which the notion of independent parties, who would protect and support the victims of war, became increasingly accepted. Essential to this project was the idea that persons who did this work would be protected by all the belligerent parties. For their part, the independent Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), who provided this aid eschewed any commitment to the ‘cause’ of any belligerent party. The undertaking of the International Committee of the Red Cross (and the other humanitarian agencies who became involved) was to provide help to all parties in an even-handed way and, in the case of ICRC, remind them of their obligations under the (now) multiple conventions.

Monday, June 21, 2010

David Round: The Insidious Creep to Maori Sovereignty

Foreshore and Seabed Update: Well, so the government’s foreshore and seabed proposals are going ahead, and to hell with the rest of us. I must say I was a little surprised. The Prime Minister, great deal-maker that he is, is not afraid to call off negotiations from time to time ~ the Tuhoe claim to the Ureweras may spring to mind ~ but, despite the tough talk of taking it or leaving it, he actually ended up making further concessions to Maori; for example, in the brand new and very mysterious ‘universal recognition’. I am not quite sure what this involves.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Allan Peachey: Transforming Education

A few weeks ago I read an article in “Time” magazine (March 29 2010, p.40) entitled “Making the Grade President Obama’s plan for US education reform is a good start. Here’s how to make it even better.” It was written by New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and New York City Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein. Incidentally, there are 1.1 million youngsters in the New York public school system.

Roger Kerr: The Struggle for Consensus on Good Policies

Blimey, stone the crows! A few weeks ago something happened in Australia that I never believed possible. An inveterate critic of Australia’s economic reforms over the past 25 years came out and said he was wrong. John Carroll is a professor of sociology at La Trobe University in Melbourne. He authored a book Shutdown: The Failure of Economic Rationalism and How to Rescue Australia, which was published in 1992.

Ronald Kitching: About Crowds

"The renewal of civilisation has nothing to do with movements which bear the character of experiences of the crowd; these are never anything but reactions to external happenings. But civilisation can only revive when there shall come into being in a number of individuals a new tone of mind independent of the one prevalent among the crowd and in opposition to it, a tone of mind which will gradually win influence over the collective one, and in the end determine its character. It is only an ethical movement which can rescue us from the slough of barbarism, and the ethical comes into existence only in individuals..." So wrote the late Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mike Butler: Who’s pandering to whom?

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira said that Monday's agreement between the National Party and the Maori Party on the foreshore and seabed was “pandering to rednecks”, but closer inspection reveals the pandering goes the other way. The agreement aims to achieve an enduring solution to the seven-year wrangle but looks like another back-room deal done in the hope that most voters won’t notice.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Michael Barnett: Emissions Trading – Persuade us

On one hand we have a majority of small and medium businesses the Chamber deals with across NZ saying that the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) due to start on the first of July should be withdrawn and replaced with a comprehensive long term strategy to cut emissions in the agriculture and transport sectors – the two areas that account for over 70% of New Zealand’s green house emissions. On the other we have Government launching an information and story telling offensive that, if it is as persuasive as they say it is, should have been told and widely socialised 12 months ago.

David Round: Meaning of Maori Sovereignty

URGENT MESSAGE TO PRIME MINISTER: We interrupt our programme to send an urgent message to the Prime Minister. Mr Key, you are a lucky man, favoured of the gods. They have just offered you the perfect solution to a very nasty situation. Most New Zealanders are not at all happy with your government’s foreshore and seabed proposals, and they will be less happy in the future. In your anxiety to find something acceptable to increasingly greedy Maori you are promoting racial division and are increasingly unmindful of the interests of the rest of us. Your proposals go far too far. However, you have stated that you will go no further, and now the Maori Party and its friends have declared that you still have not gone far enough. Take them at their word. Declare that since they have rejected your bottom line the present 2004 Act will remain in place. Do not hesitate. The opportunity will not come again. Do not despise Fortune’s gifts; if you do, she will take her generosity elsewhere.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Frank Newman: Shane Jones should go

The actions of Shane Jones are worse than reckless. The man is not fit to hold public office and the public know that. I have no doubt voters would toss him out of office if they were given the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately they won’t have that opportunity. As a list MP Jones was not elected to Parliament, he was appointed by the Labour Party and it is they and they alone who will determine whether Jones has a future as an MP. No doubt they will decide that issue not on a matter of principle but on what is in their own best interests.

Mike Butler: National feeling ETS heat

Nick Smith and National Party MPs are publishing incorrect and misleading statements to neutralize the ACT campaign against the Emissions Trading Scheme, John Boscawen told a meeting in Hastings on Thursday night. “But this is a last-ditch attempt to justify the unreasonable excesses of the ETS regime”, he said. He urged everyone who opposes the ETS to email Prime Minister John Key and at least the top six members of Cabinet. He did note, however, that anyone who does so would receive a standard email in return containing eight misleading statements.

Ron Smith: Politics and Climate Change

Accounts of the National Party Northern District conference at Waitangi at the end of May make interesting reading for anyone interested in the mechanics of politics and/or the politics of climate change. After a couple of heavy defeats on the issue at previous district meetings, the Party was evidently determined to head off a third. To this end, the relevant minister (Nick Smith) cancelled all other appointments and made a late decision to attend. The Party leadership then manipulated the proceedings so that opponents of Government policy had no time to speak, or were not called at all. On the other hand, the Minister had unlimited time, both before and after the fully 90 seconds allowed to the mover of a motion urging delay in the implementation of the EFTS.

Monday, June 7, 2010

David Round: Claims of Maori Sovereignty Absurd

Last week I offered some arguments as to why any claim to ‘Maori sovereignty’ was absurd. Those arguments had a legal flavour to them; they centred on the actual words of the Treaty and their meaning, and the understandings and intentions of the signatories at the time. I did add, of course, that the Treaty was not the vehicle or instrument by which British sovereignty was acquired over New Zealand. The generally-accepted day when sovereignty was acquired was, until recently anyway ~ it is not impossible that fashionable cutting-edge revisionists have decided to question it ~ the generally-accepted day was the 21st of May 1840, when British sovereignty was formally proclaimed, and New Zealand became one country instead of a divided land of warring tribes. The Treaty was no more than a preliminary political proceeding, and in recent years the High Court has dismissed any claim that the Crown might not have sovereignty over part of New Zealand because a particular tribe did not sign the Treaty.

Allan Peachey: Bigger Government Not the Answer

In a recent Economist (23-29 January 2010 page 23) there was a statement which might have been staggering to some people but which came as no surprise at all to me: “…perverse incentives mean that governments can frequently spend lots of money without producing any improvement in public services. Britain’s government doubled spending on education between fiscal 1999 and fiscal 2007, but the spending splurge coincided with a dramatic decline in Britain’s position in the OECD’S ranking of educational performance.”

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mike Butler: Framing the race debate

A throwaway line by a newsreader on Thursday shows how a carefully framed debate moulds public opinion. One News reported that Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee was “forced to apologise” for failing to consult an East Coast tribe before awarding a permit to Brazilian company Petrobras to drill for oil in the Raukumara Basin off the Bay of Plenty. Newsreader Simon Dallow concluded that Brownlee “said he would try to liaise with iwi on permits involving their foreshore and seabed in the future”.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ron Smith: Not so Cold War on the Korean Peninsula

It seems quite clear now that the 26 March sinking of the South Korean corvette, Cheonan, was the result of a deliberate torpedo attack by North Korean military forces. There is no room for any doubt about the basic facts. The South Koreans, with the participation of international experts have now brought to the surface and examined the remains of their ship and the torpedo that hit it. Enough remained of the propulsion system of the torpedo to identify it as of the kind which the North Korean regime has available for supply and which they handily identify in their sales brochures. The Cheonan, incidentally, is not a small ship. At 1200 tons it is close to the size of a New Zealand offshore patrol -vessel, like the HMNZS Wellington, and with a similar-sized crew, who were mostly lost in the attack.