Friday, January 29, 2016

Frank Newman: Echoes of Orewa

Twelve years ago Don Brash, as the then leader of the National Party, delivered a landmark speech to Orewa Rotary:  He dared to confront the issue of separatism. While the response from some was predictably shrill, the message resonated with enough voters to rebuild National's support from what had been a crushing election defeat under Bill English.

This week it was Winston Peters at the podium in Orewa and Don Brash in the pews, but the message was the same - that racial privilege was dividing the country.

Mr Peters referred specifically to the changes being made to the Resource Management Act (reviewed in my 9 December column). He said, "Under the new bill, every council in New Zealand will be required by law, to invite the local iwi to discuss, agree and record ways in which tangata whenua through iwi authorities, can participate in the formulation of policy plans, including water management plans".

Previously the Environment Minister, Nick Smith, conceded, "The Bill is a compromise with the Maori Party and they have strongly advocated for better processes for iwi to be involved in council plan making. Councils will need to engage with local iwi on how they will involve them in their resource management processes. The objective is to ensure iwi are consulted on issues that are important to them..."

It is the reality of MMP that a party which gains just 1.3% of the vote can dictate the terms to the majority, but it seems National's concessions to the Maori Party have gone further than giving iwi greater say in local council rule making and consenting.  As Mr Peters alludes, iwi are also likely to be granted racial privileges regarding fresh water.

It is no coincidence that the RMA deal done with the Maori Party refers to water because National will soon announce a major reform of the way fresh water is managed. National MPs are already attempting to minimise the intensity of the impending debate by repeating the Party mantra that no one owns water. They conveniently ignore the reality that granting a use right that confers all of the benefits of ownership is ownership in all but name.
There are likely to be two key elements to the fresh water debate. The first is why iwi should have any special right to fresh water at all.  According to the Iwi Chairs Forum, water is important to Maori because, "Our wai (water) is an inseparable part of our whakapapa and our identity, and is a fundamental part of what drives our very existence."

National appears to have accepted Maori have a special rights regarding fresh water. Others  say spirituality and moon gazing should not be driving economics in a modern economy.

The second element of the debate is how water should be allocated and if Maori are to have special privileges, how they would be addressed. One option being considered is a tradeable quota system. Essentially this would give those holding a quota the right to draw a specified volume of water over a defined period (like 20 years or longer). Those rights have a value and would be tradeable on the open market which, according to market purists, would result in the water resource being fully allocated and put to its best economic use.

Another option is an administrative-based approach where decisions about who gets fresh water and how much, are made by local councils (with 50% or majority iwi representation on the decision making committees).

The issue is of particular importance to the farming and horticulture sectors, large industrial users, and  local councils.  All users will want to protect their existing use rights, be assured future rights will be allocated fairly on need rather than racial preferences, and they will want assurances about cost, given the supply of water is in effect a monopoly.

A discussion document on options for the reform of water management and allocation will be released by the government shortly and the public will be invited to make submissions. It's an issue that will get a lot of media attention, creating many more political opportunities for Winston Peters and others. 


Brian said...
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Echoes of Orewa.
Shades of political selective Journalism (signalling the death of Publish and be damned in this country)?
I looked in vain on the T.V. news, and indeed on Radio New Zealand for a comprehensive report on Winston Peters Orewa speech.
Alas to no avail, perhaps our Media thought it of very little interest to either viewers and a possible insult to Maori Iwi; or has our Media succumbed at long last to political pressure?
After all the last thing any Political Party in our Parliament wants right now is a Racial debate or this magnitude, when our own Helen Clark vies for the senior position at the United Nations.
Winston Peters has the ability to speak out on such matters; he is in the enviable position of sitting on the independent political fence. But it is fortunate that he is able and has the courage to do so, seeing that the majority of our elected and non-elected M.P.’s prefer to adhere to the safe maxim of “Discretion being the better part of Valour”. (It has another less controversial phrase name of “Following the Party Line”)
As we can see from the measures which might inflict pain on the general public such as TPP, the acquisition of water, Foreshore, special privileges etc., etc., our Maori population will be protected and their rights preserved for **Posterity**. Mr. Peters was totally right in his remark that we are well down the pathway of apartheid, he might have gone much further and said “We are already at that stage”.
The great pity is that the maestros Gilbert and Sullivan are not around to take full measure of this comical and tragic farce we see in our Parliament today. Especially when a minor party can so dominate, and blackmail a Governing Party in or out of government.
**Boyle Roche Irish M.P.**
Quote “To hell with Posterity, what has Posterity ever done for us”!

Stevo C said...
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When Don Brash gave his Orewa speach, Nationals ratings went through the roof, then the media crucified him for wanting equal rights for all NZers and he was basically run out of town. The media and our politicians it seems are all tarred with the same brush and are hell bent on taking us down a path of seperation, why would they be doing this unless they are under instruction from the hierarchy or they're in the pockets of maori. How did we get to the stage where about 1% of 14% of the population can call the shots and squeal racism everytime they dont get their way. We all know that NZ history is being distorted by the racist minority to suit their own agenda. We also know they were certainly not the first people to arrive on these shores and are definately not indigenous. This rubbish has cost the NZ tax payer Billions of dollars over the years for supposed injustices, how much have maori given for the wholesale slaughter of the prior inhabitants of our once great country? The answer is nothing, and that is exactly what they should have gotten from us.
Are there any investigative journalists out there that seek the truth? It appears not unfortunately.
Welcome to New Zimbabwe.

paul scott said...
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Yes. This is looking awful, we really do have a soggy wet Prime Minister.
At this good time he could make the break to lead New Zealand into a democracy of one vote one person, be remembered as a courageous PM , but he chooses to go further down the path toward a separate and supreme Council; An Upper House if you will.
The Emperor has no clothes and we will talk about it.
We will hold him to account.
How can we derail the gravy train. Knowing well where this limp and lame Government does not stand can lead us to vote NZ First. David Seymour says we would be wasting our vote. It doesn't look good, and to derail this train may take extreme action.
To do nothing is not an option.

Anonymous said...
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Hi Frank,

I was one of the original ACT candidates, and stood 3 times.
I classify myself as a classical liberal, in the sense that I hold respect individual life and individual liberty as my highest values, and see great utility in the notion of property rights and legal systems as vastly more likely to deliver the sort of security that allows long life, over resorting to brute force (at any level). And the level thing is important.

This issue is really much deeper than your article implies.
New Zealand was not settled under the doctrine of terra nova, but by treaty. That treaty was/is important in respect of its rather broad use of the phrase (lands and estates forests fisheries and other properties) in respect of property.
I think the notion of property rather important.

Companies and corporations can hold title to land without losing it at death of an individual - where is the clear distinction between that sort of association and a tribal one?

I spent years dealing with these issues with some of the best legal minds in the country when dealing with the Fisheries Claims, after the introduction of the Quota Management System.
I have been on a Water Management Committee for the last 5 years, and have chaired it for the last two, and have some clear understanding of the depth of legal argument around the notion of property that has nothing at all to do with race, and everything to do with liberty and justice.

Can you name me one major instance in history where rights have been allocated "fairly on the basis of need". If you can, it will be the exception rather than the rule.

I see a great need for society as a whole to move away from scarcity based thinking, and to realise the levels of abundance that exponential technology actually gives us access to.
We could develop automated systems to deliver all the essentials of life to every person on the planet - and doing so would break our current system that is based on markets and money.
Markets can only ever value any universal abundance at zero or lower. If you doubt that consider air, arguably the most important thing to any of us, yet of zero market value due to universal abundance.

So the idea that markets will ever deliver universal abundance (eliminate poverty) of anything, is a myth. Market value relies on scarcity, and markets will develop methods to create scarcity where none need exist (evidence our "intellectual property" laws) - purely and simply to maintain market value.

So it is not an issue of "racial privilege", it is very much more dimensional than that.

In history, exponential growth has meant 2% per year, or 3 doublings per century. Exponential growth in information technology is now doubling every ten months.
That trend is taking its first baby steps into the realm of hardware with first generation 3D printers. They are little more than toys at present, but by the time we get to 4th generation (12 years away), they will enable decentralised manufacture of most goods, and automated delivery of most services.

These issues are huge.

I agree with Hayek that one of the great powers of markets was the ability to coordinate cooperation through the price/profit signal, and increase the abundance of goods and services available. And we have certainly lived through a period that has enjoyed many of the fruits of that.

And we are now entering an entirely new domain, that none of the parents of economics foresaw - fully automated manufacture, fully distributed trust networks with real time global communication, and those things really do change everything.

I make the clear claim that money and markets are rapidly approaching (if they haven't already past) the point where their basis in scarcity is actually delivering greater risk than benefit to the vast bulk of humanity (which includes both of us, and most readers of this), given the exponential increase in computation and manufacturing capacity we now possess.

Greengrass said...
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Well said, Frank plus commentators.
As mentioned, the RMA changes would give iwi 50% of the vote on councils .
All they need to do then is get one additional maori elected as a councilor to gain a majority on the council and tip total power into the lap of maoris.
Is this how democracy is meant to work?

mitch morgan said...
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John Key is in the box seat simply because of the calibre of opposition leaders. No other Party leader looks anything like a potential Prime Minister, with the possible exception of Winston Peters. The Labour Party self-destructed when they dumped David Shearer; Mr Little appears as the Trade Union leader of his past and not as a person to lead NZ out of the mire, the Greens are laughable and the Act leader jumps when the strings are pulled. The Conservative Party was massacred by media set-ups and any other minor parties are denied media coverage.
Let's hope that Winston can drum up enough support to put the wind up Mr Key and create a viable opposition. Did anyone else notice that in his "State of the nation" speech John Key made no reference to our $120 billion dollar national debt?

Ray S said...
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While it may be considered as nothing more than grandstanding by Mr. Peters, he has made statements many people are wary of saying for fear of attracting the racist label. It beggars belief that any governing body pays so much attention to such a small percentage of the population. We have MMP to thank for that.
Unfortunately the capitulation to maori will continue ad infinitum. At least until
such time as a strong leader comes along.

Barry said...
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I agree with the comment of Stevo C on January 29 2016 at 12.30 pm.

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