Don Brash and Winston Peters formed an unlikely alliance today in protest against what they believe is "preferential treatment" for Maori in new planning laws.
The two men, once sworn enemies, united in criticism of proposals to change the way iwi are consulted in the resource consent process.
Dr Brash, the former National Party leader, was making a submission on Resource Management Act (RMA).
He said radical reforms of the RMA would do more than any other single measure to improve New Zealanders' standard of living.
However, the National-led Government's proposals were "pitifully limited" and "barely scratched the surface of what was needed".
The "cost" of progressing these "modest changes" was a significant expansion of iwi rights, he claimed. The bill would "vastly extend" Maori involvement in the planning process by requiring councils to invite Maori to enter into what are known as "iwi participation agreements".
"This is surely a recipe for further delay, for corruption and for anger on the part of the rest of the community," Dr Brash said.
His old party had persisted with the changes despite being offered a "vastly better alternative" by Mr Peters.
The New Zealand First leader has offered to support broader RMA reforms in exchange for removing any iwi-specific provisions. It was "incomprehensible" that Mr Peters' offer was not taken up, Dr Brash said.
All this goes very much further than “consultation” and opens the door to endless delays and, at worst, corruption as those whose vital interests are held hostage to this long drawn-out process resort to payments to short-circuit it. At the very least, it gives iwi a seat at the decision-making table simply by virtue of race or ancestry – and that has nothing to do with democracy as normally understood.
It seems particularly inappropriate, and unnecessary, when those with a Maori ancestor have proved over and over again, in Auckland as all over the country, that they are perfectly capable of being elected to local councils in their own right. There simply is no longer any need for special statutory arrangements to ensure that the “Maori voice” (if indeed there is such a thing) is heard at the decision-making table.
Sorry Nick, [Environment Minister Nick Smith] if this is the best that Government can do, it is not nearly good enough. Nothing wrong with trying to improve the quality of New Zealand’s fresh water. But all New Zealanders have an equal stake in that, and giving a priority right to those with a Maori ancestor is definitely not the right way to take us forward in the 21st century. Ironically, Governor Hobson had it right in 1840 when he noted that the Treaty conferred on Maori the rights and privileges of British subjects – no less but also no more.
But, once again, it sets a precedent that somehow Maori own something that isn’t actually ownable. Because, if they can own the future value of fish never caught, they can similarly own the future value of land they don’t hold, water they don’t control and other resources they can lay a claim to.
National was returned for a third term with the largest majority ever seen under MMP, yet they are the least effective because their minority coalition partner tails keep wagging the National dog.
Apartheid New Zealand