MANA in Parliament, 17-19 July 2012Posted on July 23, 2012 by admin in Mana in Parliament
This week in Parliament the government progressed a number of really problematic bills.
First up was the Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill that, on the upside, seeks to address the milk price problem but, on the downside, will make it possible for investors to buy into Fonterra (via the Trading Amongst Farmers or TAF provisions).
This step towards privatising one of our biggest industries will no doubt lead to more milk price hikes in the future. Māori dairy company Miraka Ltd attempted to introduce some changes to prevent the milk price from being overinflated in the future, but was not supported in Parliament by any party other than MANA – including the Māori Party who tabled the change.
Also progressed this week was the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill that will enable the government to further open up the seabed in New Zealand’s EEZ to activities like mining, drilling and fracking. The bill puts economic development well ahead of environmental protection, making it much more likely for applications to be approved. A Treaty clause in the bill will do little to stop this and as a result, MANA has continued to oppose it.
See the MANA website for Hone’s media statement, “Makin’ it EEZ to Desp-oil Our Beaches”. The other major bill in Parliament this week was the final reading of the Social Security (Youth Support and Work Focus) Amendment Bill, which sets new lows in the treatment of people on benefits, including requiring those on a DPB with two or more children to be available for paid work when the youngest is just one year old and reducing support to young people who are without whānau support. It continues the government’s finger-pointing at beneficiaries while still doing nothing to create the jobs that are needed and making it more likely for young people to end up without any support at all.
See the MANA website for the media statement against this shameful bill. Unbelievably, all three of these bills have been supported by the Māori Party.
The other big issue this week for MANA has of course been the NZ Māori Council’s freshwater and geothermal claim against the Crown being heard before the Waitangi Tribunal.
MANA has made a number of media statements in support of the claim over the last two weeks (see the website for details), and Hone has spoken extensively in the media in support of the Council’s position that Māori ownership rights in water – inherent in the concepts and practices of kaitiakitanga, mana, and rangatiratanga – need to be determined and settled before the government can sell the power companies that depend upon it.
The word on the street is that the claim, and its very likely progression to the High Court, has already derailed the government’s ability to sell them – at least in the short term which is a huge win for Māori and indeed all New Zealanders.
MANA President, Annette Sykes, is one of the Māori Council’s lawyers and her rapid-fire questioning of the Crown’s witnesses revealed some very telling gaps in the Crown’s case: namely that they’ve done no analysis of the impacts of power company sales on Māori claims to freshwater.
How is the Crown able to say the sales should go ahead when they haven’t even done their homework and checked this out? While John Key may have backtracked a little from his premature dismissal of the Waitangi Tribunal, he has also indicated that the government would legislate to own water if further court action finds in favour of the Māori claimants.
It’s the foreshore and seabed situation all over again; MANA up whānau, we’re in for a bumpy ride.