Monday, January 29, 2024

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 29/1/24

Seymour raises tax and Treaty issues in his “state of the nation” speech (which has not been posted on the Beehive site)

Just one statement has been posted on the government’s official website since Attorney-General Judith Collins announced the appointment of a new High Court Judge late last week.

It deals with education and the government’s aims to get better results from school students.

Latest from the Beehive

As schools start back for 2024, Education Minister Erica Stanford says there will be a relentless focus on ensuring students are achieving at school.

Attorney-General Judith Collins today announced the appointment of Whanganui Crown Solicitor Michele Marina Wilkinson-Smith as a High Court Judge.

But ACT leader David Seymour is among other ministers who have been generating news – and headlines – without making their pronouncements “official”.

He has released a press statement, headed “state of the nation 2024”, in which he contended the Clark, Key, and Ardern governments had three things in common.
  • They denied problems.
  • They governed without values
  • They made bad policy
Seymour insisted:

Over the last quarter of a century, the Clark, Key, and Ardern governments have all eroded the simple idea that YOU are the person that makes the difference in your own life. There’s been a cultural shift towards the idea that if there is a problem to be solved, or if life is to get better, the people in Wellington will do it for us.

Our change in values has resulted in more regulation of how you use and exchange your property, including your own time and money. It’s meant the government is spending more of your money – much of it wasteful – and taxing you more to pay for it.

Since the 1990s, the government has steadily crept further and further into your life.

Education results are going backwards. One in ten working age New Zealanders is on a main benefit. The price of a house is out of reach for most young New Zealanders. Productivity has flatlined.

The new government accepted it must get kids out of violent homes and into school so they can build their own lives, consent and fund building infrastructure so we have places to live, and increase the rate of productivity growth to enable the country to afford the defence force, the healthcare, or even the holidays of a first world country.

And it accepted that government policy must treat all people equally as human beings

“With a Government that accepts reality, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.”

In the speech, Seymour made just one mention of taxes. He said lower, flatter taxes encourage people to work, save and invest.

Then he tackled Treaty issues, noting that the PM has asked him to be Associate Minister of Justice, responsible for the Treaty Principles Bill.

Ahead of Waitangi Day, he explained why ACT is advancing this bill.

New Zealanders want to ensure that the wrongs of the past are put right and that every child has equal opportunity.

In recent decades, we’ve been told that in order to solve these problems we must become a ‘Tiriti-centric’ New Zealand where there are two types of people in partnership – tangata whenua (land people) and tangata tiriti (Treaty people) – who would each have different political and legal rights.

This is not only untrue, it is incompatible with the fundamental democratic value that all citizens are equal under the law. This divisive idea has been fuelled by unelected bureaucrats and judges promoting a ‘partnership’ interpretation of our founding document.

I have a very simple belief that each of us are united by something much greater than any kind of history or culture – that is, universal humanity. The same rights, the same dignities for every person. And that is what has driven all the good movements in human history – votes for women, the civil rights movement in America, and the end of apartheid in South Africa, along with the rights of people of different sexualities to be themselves and marry as they wish. That’s what I believe.

And when it comes to the Treaty of Waitangi, we as a country have a simple choice to make. We can either believe that the Treaty of Waitangi created a partnership between races, as some say, or we can believe that it delivers what it says itself in the Māori version: nga tikanga katoa rite tahi – the same rights and duties. That is the fundamental question.

Regarding the Treaty as a partnership between races required a belief that tangata whenua have different rights and duties in New Zealand from tangata Tiriti, Seymour said.

This means people get different positions in government, they get treated differently in the workplace, they get treated differently based on who their ancestors were, not on what they do today and the character of their own behaviour.

Seymour said he believes we are all equal and each of us should have a chance and a choice in life to be the best that we can. He maintains this is the only way forward for any society.

Every time we say that people have different rights based on ancestry, we breed resentment. And more importantly, we create the idea that which group you’re a member of is more important than your basic value as a person.

ACT therefore is promoting a proper debate on the Treaty principles, and its Treaty Principles Bill would be a law passed by Parliament that says the Treaty says what it means and means what it says.

We take the Māori text and we take what it literally says: that the government has the right to govern. There is one government. Some say Māori didn’t cede sovereignty. The reality is there’s five million of us on these islands and the practicalities of living together means there must be one law and Government. That’s the first article.

The second article says that we have a right to tino rangatiratanga: self-determination. Now, some people say that only applies to Māori. We argue it should apply to everybody, for a number of reasons. One, as I said, we’re all human. Two, many people who are Māori also are proud of many other whakapapa from around the world. So, it seems crazy to try and divide the right to self-determination and property to only apply to some citizens.

We believe that should apply to all, and that’s backed up by the third article, which says that we have nga tikanga katoa rite tahi: the same rights and duties.

Our Bill means Parliament would legislate that those are the principles, and that means that we are not a partnership between races. We are not people who have to look at our family tree to find out how we fit in. We’re all New Zealanders with the same basic rights and with that platform constitutionally we can get stuck in to tackling the real problems and challenges that New Zealanders face.

Seymour challenged those who disagree with the Treaty Principles Bill to stop calling its supporters “racist” (that is untrue and cheapens the word, he said).

And they should not say, or even hint, that there will be violence if they don’t get your way.

These arguments pave the road to division. Take those arguments off the table and try dialogue like adults.

Instead, you could just answer this: If the Treaty is a Partnership between the Crown and only Māori, then what is the place of a child born in this country today who is not Māori? Are they born into second class citizenship as Tangata Tiriti, where some roles in public life are not available to them because they have the wrong ancestors?

If the answer to that is yes, then where are the successful societies that treat people differently based on their ancestry? What is your model for the future of New Zealand based on those Treaty principles?

If the answer is no, then we have a bright future, but it requires casting off the divisive notion that the Treaty is a partnership between races, between tangata whenua on the one hand and tangata tiriti on the other, and embracing the Treaty as a commitment to all New Zealanders having freedom under the rule of law.

Māori leaders must ask themselves if the are dealing with the issues responsibly, or simply inciting baseless racial resentment, Seymour insisted.

It is an important question.

Over the weekend, Seymour featured in reports which focused on the tax and treaty issues:

One of two RNZ reports is headed

ACT leader David Seymour says simpler tax system would encourage a culture of success

In this, Deputy Political Editor Craig McCulloch says:

ACT leader David Seymour is on a mission to convince his coalition partners to make a flatter, simpler tax system the centrepiece of this year’s Budget, arguing “you can leave everyone better off”.

Finance Minister Nicola Willis has promised tax cuts in the May Budget, but she has yet to detail the way in which they will be delivered.

National campaigned on a proposal to adjust the existing tax thresholds, but as part of coalition negotiations with ACT last year, it agreed to consider whether the “concepts” of ACT’s tax policy could be incorporated “subject to no earner being worse off than they would be under National’s plan”.

In a sit-down interview with RNZ, Seymour said the key concept of his party’s plan was a flatter tax system, that is, removing some thresholds altogether and then giving targeted support to those on lower incomes through tax credits.

Treasury officials had been tasked with investigating ACT’s proposal and would report back before the Budget, he said.

The second RNZ report was headlined …

ACT leader David Seymour expects Waitangi events will be ‘tense’

In this, political reporter Anneke Smith said:

ACT leader David Seymour says he expects Waitangi commemorations will be “more tense” than usual this year.

Seymour is the architect of the Treaty Principles Bill that proposes to rewrite the treaty principles before putting them to a public vote.

The legislation is staunchly opposed by many Māori leaders, who have warned the government communities will mobilise if the treaty is altered.

Seymour will publicly front this criticism at Waitangi in a week’s time, where he expects the atmosphere will be intense.

“I think based on the comments that some people have made it will be more tense than other years,” Seymour told reporters at the weekend.

This report recalled Waitangi Day’s history of political protest.
  • In 1998, Helen Clark was reduced to tears after a veteran activist objected to her speaking on the marae.
  • Six years later, Don Brash had mud thrown at him in the fallout of his infamous Orewa speech.
  • In 2016, a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) protester threw a rubber dildo at Steven Joyce’s face.
But according to the government’s official website, Seymour has said, announced or proclaimed very little since he became a minister of the Crown.

Point of Order can find just this, a joint statement in which he spoke as Associate Minister of Education along with ducatin Minister Erica Stanford.

Data released today for Term 3 2023 show that despite the previous government’s hollow promises of bold actions, New Zealand school attendance rates remain abysmal.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seymour raises tax and Treaty issues in his “state of the nation” speech.

“This divisive idea has been fuelled by unelected bureaucrats and judges promoting a ‘partnership’ interpretation of our founding document”.

Why no mention of divisive apartheid promoting Politicians David? Politicians like Rata, Lange, Palmer, Wetere, Graham, Finlayson, Key, Ardern, Mahuta and Jackson to name a few?

“Some say Māori didn’t cede sovereignty”?

Then introduce them to our 1839 Royal Charter/Letters Patent, where Britain claimed sovereignty over all the Islands of New Zealand under the ’ Law of Nations’.

“The second article says that we have a right to tino rangatiratanga: self-determination”

Why don’t you put tino rangatiratanga in the second article into full context David? It does not mean self-determination.

Ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani- all the people of New Zealand- te TINO RANGATIRATANGA o ratou wenua o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa – the FULL CHIEFTAINSHIP of their lands, their settlements and their property.

“What is your model for the future of New Zealand based on those Treaty principles”?

They wrote it down in the secret He Puapua document David? Have you not read it?

As for tax, a 1% transaction tax is all that's needed