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Hansard (debates)

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House of Representatives
5 May 2004
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General Debates


General Debates

GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) : I move, That the House take note of miscellaneous business. If ever there was a week when the death knell began to sound for the Helen Clark Labour-led Government, this was it. This was the week when the bell started to toll. One Minister went overboard, one member is teetering on the brink of following her, one Minister went to sleep at an inappropriate time and failed to sign a trade agreement, and the Prime Minister herself told Māori that she would much rather talk with sheep than with them. This was a week when the posse came to town to put the heat on the Māori members of this House. Ten thousand people are standing out there, wanting those Māori members to listen to their concerns, and they are not being taken account of one iota.

I cannot help asking whether the Prime Minister still feels that she is simply a victim of her own success. What a week it has been for the Labour Government, and what a week it has been for New Zealand. For the first time in many months, the smell of an election—the smell of a change of Government—is well and truly in the nostrils of the voting populace. Earlier in the week, the Government narrowly survived a confidence vote.

Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member, and I will certainly not take this off his time. There is too much loud conversation. Members can have that outside. If members have select committees to go to, they can. I will give the member an extra half a minute.

GERRY BROWNLEE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Those murmurings were the nervous chatterings of the members who are about to lose their seats—the nervous chatterings of Martin Gallagher, who may as well go and pack up his bags right now, and the nervous chatterings of Stevie Chadwick, who wonders about the great experience she will have to leave behind. There is David Parker, sitting up the back, the man who will be first to go. We understand that he is already casting his CV around the south of the South Island, hoping to pick up where he left off in 1999.

Earlier this week the Government survived a confidence vote narrowly and only because United Future, the party that came to this Parliament to protect family values, decided to retain in office the party that has done the most to damage family values in this country. I say to United Future that, along with Labour, it will pay the price for that foolish mistake. I ask Parliament why the Prime Minister has not gone down to talk to those in the hīkoi who have assembled out the front. The National Party has made it very clear. We will not vote for this legislation, but for very different reasons from the reasons of those who are standing on the forecourt today. So there is no need for us to talk to them, but Helen Clark should have done a lot of explaining to those people.

I ask Labour members of Parliament how they can expect to survive when they are doing something that their people are so patently opposed to. I ask Labour members of Parliament why there is so much confusion about this bill. I can empathise quite strongly with everybody who is standing on that forecourt protesting right now. I can empathise because, like a lot of New Zealanders, we think we are losing something. Māori think they are losing something, and so do the rest of the population.

The Government has the problem that although Māori will be able to claim ancestral connection to the coastline of this country, non-Māori cannot. So we have fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth generation New Zealanders who are not Māori, and who, apparently—according to this law, when it is passed—can never feel the same affinity for the land, or love of the whenua, as someone who can claim some Māori whakapapa. If the Labour Party needs to know why people are so upset over this, then it needs to get in touch with that very point. It is not possible for any Government to survive if it sets out to divide and marginalise.

The sad thing is that this Government is saying to the vast majority of New Zealanders that any connection people thought they had to the coastline around this country cannot be recognised in any way, at all. But the Government is telling Māori New Zealanders to go along to the Māori Land Court, and, under their tikanga, explain their connection and have it recognised, and that a bundle of rights will flow from that; compensation will flow from that. Those who have no connection, and cannot have a connection, will be required to compensate those who have. That is a recipe for ongoing treaty grievance, and that will be the legacy of this outgoing Labour Government. Labour members may sit over there chewing their lollies now, trying to ignore the seriousness of the situation, but Helen Clark will be remembered as the Prime Minister who split this country down the middle.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment) : I do not think that any debate can take place in the House today without members acknowledging the events taking place on the forecourt of Parliament. For the many thousands of people who are there, the issue is obviously the foreshore and the seabed of New Zealand. I want to say to those people that we respect their point of view, we have listened closely to their point of view, but we do not agree with their point of view. The task of this Government is to govern on behalf of all New Zealanders, and that means guaranteeing that the foreshore and the seabed are there for all New Zealanders. It means access for all New Zealanders. It means Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed. It means that existing customary rights and ancestral connections are recognised and protected.

Our approach to governing this country is to provide a basis for all people to move forward together. We are a bicultural nation. Tangata whenua are the first people of this land. They signed a treaty agreement with the Crown. Today we are beginning the 21st century as a diverse and diversifying society. This Government recognises those differences but wants to lay a foundation for us going forward together. We are all New Zealanders and our future together will depend on all of us making a contribution to the 21st century. In the last 4 years we have made huge strides. In 1999, when this Government came into power, people will recall that we inherited a divided country—a country that was not performing economically and that was in the midst of major social breakdown. Many, many people said that the personal isolation that they found after 9 years of not living in a society where people felt they could and should care for each other was such that they wanted to see a change in direction.

In the last 4 years this Government has committed itself to doing basic things that bring people together. Our education policies are ensuring that people get early childhood education as a right. Our school policies mean they get extra education as a right. Our tertiary education policies have seen more people in tertiary education than ever before in the history of this country. Today we have more New Zealanders employed than ever in the history of this country. Some time this year the two-millionth New Zealander will find a job and start contributing economically to this country. We have the lowest rate of unemployment in 16 years.

We have services being rebuilt in every key area. Mrs King has seen her primary health organisations deliver primary health care into the community at a price people can afford, thereby guaranteeing that on the front line of our communities people are being made healthy because they can get access to health care. We have strengthened families. We have tried to work with United Future on ensuring we have a Families Commission. We are ensuring adequate incomes into those households. We have begun to rebuild the housing stock of this country.

In all of this we have sought to take all of New Zealand with us because we know that when all our talents are engaged in the project of building a better future, our lives will be better, and so will the future of this country. For Māori, this has meant a renaissance. For those who say that this has not mattered, I say it has. We have halved unemployment for Māori. We just have to go to a young Māori businesswomen’s award ceremony to see the huge number of young Māori women getting started in their own businesses. In art, sport, business, academic life—everywhere now—we are beginning to see the fruits of Māori exploding into a 21st century that will be good for them and good for this country.

Perhaps we are at a watershed. We have begun to lay the foundations for a way forward for all New Zealand. Yes, we know there is an issue over the foreshore and seabed, but what is at stake here today is bigger than that. It is bigger in the sense that we are laying foundations for social, economic, cultural, and environmental development that give us all a future. Let us go forward together.

R DOUG WOOLERTON (NZ First) : I think this is the first time I have spoken in a Wednesday debate—

Simon Power: It’s a pleasure.

R DOUG WOOLERTON: The National Party tells me it is a pleasure to listen. I am pleased the member is saying that; it makes me feel very warm and fuzzy all over. But I simply cannot remain silent and sit here and listen when a party that is trying to attain power at any cost poisons the relationship between the two peoples of this country.

I grew up in a family that was colour-blind, and in a community that was colour-blind—a community where each person was recognised and valued for what he or she could give to this country. I think the reason that is making the people who are marching and protesting outside rise up as they are is not just the issue of the foreshore and seabed but also that Māori, following the speech made by the leader of the National Party, feel threatened. They feel that non-Māori are poisoning the air against them. That is very sad, because I believe they feel they are being treated like the Jews were treated at the beginning of Nazi Germany. We cannot blame a whole race of people for the actions of a few. That is understood, and that is the way we think democracy should work.

Gerry Brownlee: Point of order—

Mr SPEAKER: I have been reflecting on that comment. I think the member had better assure me he was not referring to any member of this House with the comments he was just making.

R DOUG WOOLERTON: No, I was not referring to a member of this House.

Mr SPEAKER: OK. Please continue.

R DOUG WOOLERTON: The last thing we want to see in this country is race riots. I am concerned that, with the inflammatory language that is becoming more and more commonplace in Parliament, that is exactly the road we are going down. I do not believe it is right to stir up one race against another. I am anticipating that some people will say New Zealand First has said some things about Treaty of Waitangi gravy trains, and things like that, but we never spoke—and will never speak—about the Māori race. We talk about the institutions of Parliament and its departments, and we talk about the people who run those; we do not talk about the race of Māori people, which we respect.

From time to time, John Tamihere in the Labour Party speaks of a country where, in a number of years, the Pākehā New Zealander will be outnumbered by those with olive skin. We welcome that. The only issue we take with Mr John Tamihere when he says that is that he says it as some kind of threat. It is not a threat—and I might say I look forward to future generations of New Zealanders having skin that is somewhat more olive than mine is at the present time. That would be lovely, and it would be the New Zealand of the future. It is a New Zealand we want to see.

The legislation regarding the foreshore and seabed, which New Zealand First is promoting and will support, is legislation that respects the rights of Māori, non-Māori, and, most important of all, future generations of New Zealanders.

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade) : In just half an hour’s time, under the cover of the hīkoi, the National Party will release the long-awaited Creech report on the nuclear ships ban. It is no coincidence that it is being released today. That is the policy the National Party least wanted to release, and we will not learn much from what it states. I have not seen the report, but I suspect it will state something like: “We’ll repeal the legislation but we’ll keep the ban.” Yeah, right! Absolutely!

That has as much credibility as the National Party’s track record when it was last in Opposition in 1990 and said it would repeal the surtax. What did it do? It kept the surtax, it lifted the age of retirement and it reduced the payment. Then there was Lockwood Smith, who said he would repeal student fees. What did he do? He increased student fees. He promised to resign if he did not repeal them, but no, he did not do that. Of course he did not do that.

Let us look at Dr Brash’s credibility on this issue. On Sunday, Dr Brash stated that he had made no personal decision on where he believed National should go with the policy. Yeah, right! I know that statement is not true, because I know that Don Brash, who will not tell New Zealand what his policy is, will tell an American delegation. What did he say to the American delegation? He said: “If National were Government, we’d repeal the ban by lunchtime.” That is what he said. I defy one member of the National Party to say that that is not true. I challenge Don Brash to stand up and deny that statement. If we look at what Don Brash said in the paper today, we will see that when he was asked why he had two different stories and what he had said to the American congressional delegation, he said he could not recall what he said and that he considered the conversation private. I remember Jenny Shipley not seeming able to recall a conversation. He said the conversation was private.

A private agenda is a secret agenda, and we should have no doubt that the secret agenda on this issue is that the National Party if ever given the reins of Government will, against two-thirds of opinion in New Zealand, repeal the nuclear-free New Zealand policy. What it has confessed to is just as bad. Don Brash, cornered on the Holmes programme, admitted he would have sent troops to Iraq as part of the invasion. Eighty percent of New Zealanders are against that, but Don Brash and Lockwood Smith are for it. Why are they for it, against all common sense and ethics? They are for it because both those National members have said there is an economic benefit for New Zealand in doing that. How about that? They would put the lives of young New Zealand service personnel at risk in the hope—not the reality or the expectation—that they would get some economic benefit. That has not been done since the early 1960s, when Keith Holyoake admitted he sent troops to Vietnam for a better dairy deal out of the United States. That is the politics of bankruptcy, and New Zealand will not have a bar of it.

If Dr Brash has misled the public over the nuclear ban, is he misleading the public over other policies? He says, for example, that he will not lower the tax rate on high-income earners. That is what he says now. He has spent an entire career as Governor of the Reserve Bank promising to do just that. What do members believe—Don Brash the mealy-mouthed politician, Leader of the Opposition, trying to curry favour, or what he said over 9 years as the Governor of the Reserve Bank? He also said that he would not touch superannuation for people over 50. But what he is saying to every 35 to 50-year-old is that those people will spend the rest of their tax career paying tax for a benefit they will never get. But I do believe his admission that he will repeal the 4 weeks’ holiday legislation passed by this Government.

Hon DAVID CARTER (National) : It is the arrogance and the ranting and raving of Ministers like Mr Maharey and Mr Goff that will destroy this Government. Those Ministers stand in the House today and argue that things are going well for the Government, seemingly oblivious to the fact that 10,000 angry New Zealanders are on the steps of Parliament today. In response to Mr Doug Woolerton’s comments, there can be no doubt that the speech delivered by Don Brash, as leader of the Opposition, at Ōrewa, was a watershed speech. Of that there can be no doubt. Don Brash raised in that speech a number of issues of concern to most New Zealanders. He raised those issues when other New Zealanders had become too scared to.

Today I want to know what happened to the Prime Minister, who only a few months ago claimed in this House that she was fast becoming a victim of her own popularity and competence. Where was that Prime Minister today when 10,000 New Zealanders wanted to deliver a message to her? She was cowering in her office, too scared—

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows he cannot say that. He will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon DAVID CARTER: I stand, withdraw, and apologise. Where was the Prime Minister when she was not prepared to meet those people today? What has happened to that popular and confident Prime Minister, who now looks as if she will remain Prime Minister only by calling on the help of Winston Peters and 12 other members of Parliament whom no New Zealanders know? The Government is in trouble. It is terminal. In a few weeks’ time, it is due to deliver a Budget. Even yesterday, Helen Clark had difficulty in assuring the media that she would have the numbers to deliver that Budget—a Budget that is important for the Government, because it is one in which it will recklessly spend a $6 billion surplus of taxpayer money in a desperate attempt to buy votes from middle New Zealand. We had that clear statement from Michael Cullen today.

I ask how anybody can now trust the Prime Minister, who, in dealing with Tariana Turia last Monday, cajoled her to lie in the back seat of the Prime Minister’s car, then took the opportunity to have her office phone the media to make sure they got shots of Tariana Turia doing that. That is how Tariana Turia was treated by the Prime Minister, and it is little wonder that she has decided she does not want to remain a member of the Labour caucus.

The question that now needs to be asked is: what about all the other Māori members of Parliament, some of whom may well have attended the hīkoi today? Will they now be loyal to their constituents out on the steps of Parliament, or will they blindly support the Government on the seabed and foreshore legislation? Dover Samuels, who is trying to interject, should take a call. The public of New Zealand deserves to know whether we now have a Government with the numbers.

Hon John Tamihere: You’ve made some bad speeches, but this is the worst.

Hon DAVID CARTER: John Tamihere says that it has. He appears to be far more sure than the Prime Minister was yesterday. The Prime Minister can run from this issue, but she cannot hide. She can run from the by-election with Tariana Turia and she can be prepared not to defend her policy, but at the end of the day the voters of New Zealand will have the chance to vote on this policy. We know darn well that what Labour politicians have said to Māori is totally different from what has been said to the general public. That message will come out in the select committee process.

I conclude by reminding New Zealanders that when the Budget is delivered in this House in 3 weeks’ time, it may throw some money to middle - income New Zealand. That money is owned by the taxpayers of this country.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education) : It would be remiss of any member not to refer to the group of people who are outside today. I want to acknowledge their presence, acknowledge that people have very strong views on a piece of legislation, acknowledge that the Government has some way to go in helping people understand what is in that legislation, and also acknowledge that one of the important things we must do as a nation is to keep on acknowledging the different traditions and what is important to New Zealanders. That is what makes this country a great country—the fact that we can, while agreeing to differ, give to the traditions—

Gerry Brownlee: It’s too late.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It is not too late to acknowledge the traditions of different backgrounds. It might be a bit of a problem for Gerry Brownlee.

Where is the puppet? Why was the puppet not allowed to speak today? Was he on a long string? Richard said he was not allowed to come to the House today.

Mr SPEAKER: I will not have reference to members; otherwise anybody can refer to anybody. The Minister was obviously referring to a member of the House. He will change to another tack.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I will change to another tack. I predict that the next National Party theme song at the general election will be Sandie Shaw’s “Puppet on a String”. What we have heard from National Party members is that Richard Long—on television—claimed to be the one pulling the strings, and the one who makes the mouth work is Murray McCully. When Murray McCully is not in the House, the mouth cannot work. Sometimes he cannot even stand up by himself. It just frightens me that we have such a self-acknowledged problem.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is one of those interesting speeches that start to test the bounds of what is acceptable in Parliament. I notice that earlier in the afternoon it was quite unacceptable for a member on this side to make, I think, a fairly factual statement suggesting that the Prime Minister was cowering in her office and not prepared to speak to the hīkoi. You quite rightly intervened and said that a member cannot say that the Prime Minister is a coward. We accept that we are not able to put that comment out there. However, we now have a member suggesting that another member of this House somehow has nothing to say unless someone gives him the words to say, which is quite untrue, and does not engage in any activity or action unless he is directed by someone else. That is quite unacceptable.

Mr SPEAKER: What is unacceptable is any suggestion that a member is being influenced by a member who is not a member of this House. That part of the Minister’s speech was out of order. I now warn him. I do not want to have to terminate his speech, but he had better change tack.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It is clear, therefore, for the purposes of what is said in this House that the strings are being pulled by Murray McCully. He is being influenced in the House by Murray McCully, because the string is not long enough. The long string does not reach to the House; the short-string puppet is the one that Mr McCully runs.

I want to say, though, that people will remember today. People will remember the National Party, and the fact that the National Party did not have the courage of its convictions to abandon its nuclear policy in an open and transparent way. It is hiding under the skirts of Hone Harawira; that is what it is doing—hiding under Hone’s jacket. I do not know what is going on down there. I am not sure about relationships, but why can the National Party not have the courage of its convictions? It has had the report for months. National Party members know what they will be doing. They know that they want to trade bodies for beef.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it in order for Mr Mallard to say that the National Party does not have the courage of its convictions, when it has been ruled out of order for the National Party to say that the Prime Minister lacks courage and has spent the afternoon hiding in her office, not wanting to speak to the hīkoi protesters?

Mr SPEAKER: Courage of convictions has been allowed many times. To assume that a member does not have courage is out of order. I think the member was unduly breaking up the Minister’s speech on that occasion.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can I ask you to address the nature of the comments made in the point of order, the restatement of out-of-order comments by way of point of order, and whether that is acceptable to you?

Mr SPEAKER: No, it is not. There will be fewer people in this Chamber very shortly.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I want to go back to the essential point of this debate. Why would a party want to trade young New Zealanders’ bodies for beef? That was the approach that was rejected by New Zealanders in the 1970s. Why would that party want to abandon the nuclear policy that has been so roundly supported? I say to the National Party that it is about time it discovered some principles. It is about time it started to care about the standard of living for New Zealanders. It is also about time that the National Party had someone as leader in the House who knows when to stand up and when to sit down, and not have someone to pull the strings to do so.

METIRIA TUREI (Green) : We have a leadership crisis in our country. What nation’s leader of a modern democracy with any self-respect could possibly say in public, and with a straight face, that she prefers the company of sheep to that of her constituents? What nation’s leader could accuse thousands of her constituents, those who have supported her and her party for nearly half a century, who have welcomed and awhi-ed her on to their marae, of being “haters and wreckers”? That comment was made by someone who knows in her heart that what she is doing is wrong. New Zealanders are ashamed to have those comments made in their name.

Outside the walls of the House today we have thousands of people on Parliament grounds. Those people are from all walks of life—young, elderly, Māori, and Pākehā. They have travelled hundreds of kilometres from both ends of the country to be here today. They are here to legitimately demonstrate their absolute opposition to the confiscation of land and abrogation of customary rights perpetrated by the Prime Minister and the Labour Government in their foreshore and seabed legislation. They are here to protest the utter contempt shown to them by this Labour Government and the other political parties that support this legislative confiscation, because the foreshore legislation is fundamentally wrong. It is legislation that discriminates on the basis of race, as it applies only to foreshore and seabed areas that may belong to Māori as customary land. And, of course, we know that customary land is a form of title that only Māori can have under the law. The legislation overturns internationally recognised common law, and breaches our own New Zealand Bill of Rights Act as well as international human rights conventions. This legislation is unjust and utterly unnecessary.

Throughout the debate over this legislation, Māori have repeatedly argued that the concerns of the Government are entirely resolvable by good-faith discussion and negotiation. The Waitangi Tribunal also clearly identified areas of common interest that could form the basis of a good-faith discussion. I went to almost all the hui on the foreshore legislation, and heard at hui after hui the offers of Māori to sit down and work through cooperatively with the Government to come to a solution that everyone could live with. But instead of taking up the offer at least to try to work through the issues, the Government chose to resort to the patronising attitude of our colonial past, to legalise illegitimate policy, to alienate thousands of Māori and Pākehā, to extinguish legal rights, to confiscate land, and to put our foreshore and seabed at serious risk of future alienation and environmental degradation.

Under the bill, the foreshore and seabed are more vulnerable to sale than ever before. There is no provision to enhance or promote the sustainable management of the foreshore. The failed, abusive process up to this point weakens any future prospects of cooperative development of marine reserves and coastal protection initiatives. On top of that, Māori are treated as second-class citizens to whom the fundamental principles of justice do not apply.

The Green Party supports those Māori and Pākehā who have gathered today at Parliament and in their local communities around the country to oppose this legislation. We agree that there is no excuse for this raupatu, and that there are viable alternatives that are just. We agree that this country needs a solution, premised on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, that respects the needs of the whole community and the integrity of Tangaroa for his own sake. All it would take is a simple and respectful acknowledgment from this country’s leader. So I implore Helen Clark to go outside and meet her constituents, to go outside and meet with the people who have supported her and her party for decades, to go outside and say: “We didn’t get this right this time round. Let’s put it on hold, come together, and work out a solution.”

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Associate Minister of Māori Affairs) : Mr Speaker, e aroha ana ki a koe e te rangatira, te whakaruruhau i a mātau. Ā, kei te mihi nunui ki a koutou mō ngā iwi whānui i waho mō te Pāremata. He aroha ki a koutou i waho. Mōhio ki a koutou e te iwi whānui e tū ake au mō te mema Māori kei te tautoko te Rōpū Reipā, ā, pai koinā. Nō reira, kaua e wareware ki a mātou te tīpuna ratou, ā, takoto tonu, takoto tonu, ā takoto tonu.

  • [An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

[Mr Speaker, I sympathise with you, the one with whom we seek refuge. I extend a huge greeting in respect of the huge number outside of Parliament. The public must understand that I am actually getting up for the Māori member who is supporting the Labour Party, and that is that. However, we will not be forgetting them, the ancestors. Lie there, rest there, and continue to rest there.]

I want to address a number of things about leadership this afternoon, in light of the fact that the Māori members did meet with the hīkoi. We are the ones who go out on to the forecourt to meet with our people. In no circumstances will we ever allow our Prime Minister, our leader, to face off with our people in light of those circumstances, and the mana of the members Māori ill behoves us ever to place our leader at risk or in difficulty. Never again will we place her at risk or in difficulty from people who have already indicated that it is good for the Prime Minister to get the bash.

Gerry Brownlee: Stop putting a gloss on it.

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Mr Brownlee interjects. Ms Turei advises this House that the Prime Minister should go out into that situation. I think not. In no circumstances should a leader and a Prime Minister of this nation ever be subjected to that form of risk—to be spat on, as people were doing out there today.

If that is what Mr Brownlee wants, where was he? Where was he, as the National Party spokesperson on Māori? He was hiding up here with a telescope. That is where he was. He sits over on that side of the Chamber, interjecting all sorts of idiotic comments over to this side of the House, but he does not have the mana to go out there and front. He does not have the mana, after the Don Brash attack on Māori people. Māori people are out there in large numbers, not against this party or this Government but against a Parliament that year in and year out has continued to use the portal of the ability to go out into our communities to disavow our rights and to have a go at us as a people. The people—large numbers of them—are out there to protest against Parliament per se. My aunties, cousins, nephews, and nieces who are out there still like and respect me, thank the Lord, but they have come down here to send a message to Parliament that they count, that they have some dignity and humility, and that there is integrity and credibility in our communities.

Don Brash chooses to continue to deny that with a type of attack that has been carefully crafted by the National Party to fester race relation problems in this country. That is the problem. I make an impassioned plea to the National Party today that it is about time we started to build bridges. It is about time we started to see some leadership in this country. It is about time for those things when my boy comes home after listening to a Don Brash retort that my degree in law, earned earnestly at Auckland University, is a lesser degree, and that I am more incompetent, only because I am a Māori. When the debate shifts to that level and that extent, is it any wonder that Māori people have a sense of angst and frustration? Is it any wonder that they come together outside here to have a say on an issue that has brought them together, the foreshore and seabed?

Is Hone Harawira right or is Don Brash right? Well, I think both of them are wrong. We have said it in this House today and we will say it tomorrow. Huge pressures have come on Māori members—the stress, the duress, and the threats—but we will see them off, because the legislation that this Government will table and speak on tomorrow is one of the greatest pieces of work, in terms of knitting this nation together, that we will ever see. When the debate goes out into my communities we will see the truth—not the passion, not the emotion—of what we are endeavouring to do here, which is weave our nation together, rather than dividing it merely so that National can get control of$40,000 million. It is about money not mana, for the National Party.

Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON (National—Pakuranga) : That was one of the most confused speeches I have heard that member make in recent times. He started off by saying what wonderful, warm people were out on the forecourt—“We are with you. We are with you. My feelings, my thoughts, are with you.” He then went on to say how dreadful they were; that they would spit on people, punch them, and give them the bash. He said they were rotten, shocking, and evil. I am not sure which of those categories they are in, and I would like Mr Tamihere to stay and tell me, because he put them in both. He said that they were wonderful, warm, caring people, then that they were dreadful people who would spit on others and give them the bash.

He is also trying to get stuck into our leader. I want to tell people, because this my first time in the general debate since the last election—

Ron Mark: Where have you been?

Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: I have not been anywhere, but I have to say I have never been more proud in my political life than to serve in the party under a leader like Don Brash, and I will tell members why. I think his Ōrewa speech was one of the best pieces of work I have ever seen. Why? It was not because it was racist, as is coming from the other side; it was quite the opposite. It was the most non-racist speech one could get. What Don Brash said—and I want to know what was wrong with it, because no one seems to want to address the substance—is that he does not want any one group in our society getting special or favourable treatment based on race. That is what he said. Members should read the speech: he does not want any one group in our society getting special treatment based on race, and I agree with him.

But I want to say something else about this current Labour Government, because history has an enormously wonderful ability to repeat itself. There are no members here, if I look around this House, who have been through these events—excluding yourself, Mr Speaker, but I will not bring you into the debate—so I will tell them about it. In 1987, when I came here, the members of the Labour Government of 1984-87 were absolutely unstoppable. One could not lay a glove on them. No matter what we threw at them during the 1987 election, it just bounced off. The juggernaut rolled on and they actually won seats from the Opposition in the 1987 election. They won New Plymouth, they won Manawatu, and they won Birkenhead from the Opposition. But guess what happened? Within no time at all it had all turned to custard, and I mean big custard; I mean big, lumpy, chunky, oozy custard, to the point that they could not stop it. There was a stench around the second term that no one could have predicted during the first term. They were the absolute love doyens of the political world for the first term, and by the second 3 years no one wanted to be part of it. Several Labour members said that they wished they were not around. One of the members said to me one day: “I just wish I wasn’t around. I wish the ship would sink. It’s a mess.” And it got worse. Even Trevor Mallard has just tripped over at the thought of what it used to be like between 1987 and 1991. Well, they slung out Lange and in came Sir Geoffrey Palmer. That did not work. They slung him out and brought Mike Moore in, and daily it went down.

I want to tell members that that same stench is creeping in around this Government now. We see Tariana Turia bailing out—for what reason? We are going to a by-election, but I am not quite sure why.

I have to tell members on the other side that I found the process of this foreshore and seabed policy offensive. I saw the Government say that it needed to go out and consult on it, then set up a series of publicly funded hui where Government members spoke with Māori about it. Well, where was the publicly funded meeting in Howick and Pakuranga for my constituents to have their say? Where was it? It did not exist. Eighty-seven percent of the border of my electorate—Pakuranga—is water. Did we get one public consultation from the Government? We got not a mutter, not a murmur, not a jot. But Māori were allowed to have consultations—paid for—at hui all around the place. In fact, I understand there was one somewhere out near Whitford or Maraetai, where again the Government tipped in money. But there were none where my people are. If that is not racist I do not know what is. If one is going to consult, one should consult with everybody.

MARC ALEXANDER (United Future) : What we have here, I think, is an incredible amount of hot air blowing from one side of the Chamber to the other. If we could harness that hot air, we would solve all our energy problems for the next 100 years. The one thing that seems to be missing is a bit of constructive bringing together of both sides of the House to try to find an actual solution. Everybody is eager to point fingers at everybody else, but nobody wants to sit down and figure out how to proceed on the foreshore and seabed debate. It is an issue that is dividing this country like no other in the recent past. It is something that pits one New Zealander against another, and I think a lot of it is totally and utterly unnecessary. At the end of the day we have to put ourselves forth as New Zealanders first.

In America, for example, people think of themselves as being Irish American, Dutch American, or whatever it might be. New Zealand has to move in that direction. New Zealanders need to be proud of their heritage, and not lose the culture that shapes them. We need that—it is part of the cultural atmosphere of what New Zealand really is, but we also need to promote a sense of identity and nationhood. The fact that we are New Zealanders ought to be the primary focus, not the fact that we have one colour of skin or another. We should not instil a sense of prejudice in this country by passing legislation that pits one New Zealander against another. To have a group of individuals go from this country—Māori and non-Māori alike—and spill blood in its defence, and then come back and have this kind of warring on both sides of the House is utterly crazy and disruptive.

I heard the words of John Tamihere earlier, and I agree with him. No Prime Minister should be at the mercy of a situation like the hīkoi outside. At the same time, the Prime Minister of this country ought to at least invite some of the leaders of that hīkoi up to her office and sit down and have a dialogue that is constructive—one that recognises their right to voice their concerns, whether or not she agrees with them.

What we have had in the past is both Labour and National fighting against each other over this very issue. The speech at Ōrewa has certainly highlighted a number of things, and the first one is this: New Zealanders are sick and tired of being pitted against each other simply on the basis of race. There is only one race and that is the human kind, and we have to put aside all other divisions and see our common humanity and common goals for the future of this country.

I think that National is trying to exploit a problem that is happening under the administration of Labour. Let it not be misunderstood—had this issue come up under a National administration, it would be facing exactly the same kinds of problems that Labour is now facing. Rather than poke a finger in Labour’s eye, National should be prepared to sit down with Labour and be constructive. The reason for that is pure and simple: what we do not need is a solution pushed by Labour that will then be rescinded by the next National Government. We need resilience in how we decide this issue should be faced.

The point is that National must be forthcoming with its solutions and not just point out a hierarchy of problems. The responsible thing to do would be to let Labour and National sit down together and fix this problem. If we were at war with another country, there would be a great deal of unanimity across this House as to what we should do. This is no different. This is a war within our country. It is a war between the different factions of our people. We cannot allow this division to take over and strangle the sense of community and brotherhood that has been a hallmark of this nation. To pit Māori against non-Māori is an absolute disgrace.

What I want to see from both National and Labour is them taking the opportunity to sit down and advance solutions that the minor parties can come in behind and support, help, and craft along with them. Legislation of this sort should not be done by one of the larger parties in conjunction with only one of the smaller parties. That will not result in stability or resilience. We need both sides to put their heads together and be constructive.

RON MARK (NZ First) : I have to say that I actually came into the House to talk about ongoing debacles in the Department of Corrections, but on the back of the debate here today, that speech is off to one side. I am going to address some of the comments I simply cannot ignore from the now virtually totally absent National Party—the comments about the wonderful, bumbling Don Brash, raised by Gerry Brownlee—that Don Brash is a man who brought a message to New Zealand that everyone else was afraid to bring.

Well, sorry, the message was on the back of a 10-year-old speech delivered by Jim Bolger. What astounds me is that the media did not see that when it happened. The message was on the back of New Zealand First policies and speeches that have been made for 14 years by the Rt Hon Winston Peters. He started making those comments and expressing those concerns when he was a member of the National Party, and he was ignored. This is the very confused, bumbling Don Brash who, in the words of Jane Clifton, came into Parliament and made a right prat of himself yesterday, and regretfully made a prat of the whole Opposition, because he stands there as the Leader of the Opposition.

It was on my mind to stand up and, if it was within procedure, to move a motion of no confidence in the Leader of the Opposition. This is a man people need to judge very carefully. He says he is opposed to MMP, and then in the next breath says he is going to be No. 1 on the National Party list because he sees himself as an MP whose constituency is the whole of New Zealand.

How can a man who says he is opposed to MMP—that MMP should not exist, and does not deliver to this country the type of governance he believes in—then turn round and have any credibility at all when he refuses to stand in a constituency seat and demands and takes No. 1 on the list in his own party? Excuse me, but there is a credibility issue there—and excuse me, why has that not been discussed in the media and put to Mr Brash when he has been asked on other occasions to front up and answer questions about some of his rather confusing statements?

Excuse me, but Mr Brash has to accept that a lot of what we have seen outside this Chamber today is not so much a demonstration against the foreshore policy but a general expression of angst and dissatisfaction over race relations in this country in respect of the things he is promoting. Yes, he is against policies that have race privilege factors to them, but this is the same man who said he is happy with the Fisheries Act. Excuse me, but the Fisheries Act establishes taiapure and gives customary rights to Māori. This man says he is comfortable with that.

One of the great statements from Tariana Turia is that she acknowledges the good work done by National: the establishment of kōhanga reo, the establishment of the Māori health providers, and the establishment of education opportunities based on race, which were set in place by National. Our very confused Leader of the Opposition sits over there and says he is opposed to that, but he has not thought about it, and does not quite have a policy on which to go to the future.

Look at Mr Carter, who stood here and made a wonderful speech. Mr Carter and Mr Smith are clearly confused. Mr Carter has actively campaigned against the freedom-to-roam proposition put up by the Government. He does not want people tramping across private property to get to the lakes, the rivers, the estuaries, the streams, and the creeks, but Nick Smith objects to private property owners stopping access to an estuary by people who have crossed their land.

Why? Because they are Māori. He gets wonderful coverage all over the country about Māori stopping access to an estuary, but no one points out the fact that his colleague David Carter and the National Party have been campaigning for months against freedom to roam, against access to private property. Where is the consistency in that? Should we be surprised when Māori out there are saying: “This we don’t understand.” This is targeted at Māori, because Māori are the easy vote grab.

We are in a situation right now where under the National Party it is OK to say that Māori men bash their wives, but it is not OK to say that Asians are lousy drivers. There is a serious credibility issue there.

Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister of Energy) : As the general debate winds up, I turn the attention of the House back to the issue of asset sales, previous asset sales, and upcoming asset sales if ever the members of the National Party were to regain the Treasury benches. If ever they did, we know that Kiwibank would be on the block. It has been getting 400 new customers a day for the last several years, but that is not enough—they want to hock it off. People are joining Kiwibank at least in part because it is the only widely available New Zealand – owned bank that they can join. But Don Brash would sell it; there is no doubt about that. He would sell New Zealand Post. He has said so. His spokesperson on broadcasting has said that TVNZ will be on the block.

I want to know what the National Party is going to do about our energy assets. I want to know whether National members would put Genesis Power on the block, just as they put Contact Energy on the block when they were last in Government. Many New Zealanders do not know, because of the name changes, that the company called Genesis Power is owned by the taxpayer, as are the companies called Mighty River Power and Meridian Energy. Those are State-owned enterprises. Contact Energy alone is derived from the State and was privatised in the 1990s. All the rest of the electricity generating companies are in State ownership, and under this Government will stay in State ownership. Would the National Party privatise Transpower; the people who own the pylons, the people who own the transmission system from one end of the country to the other? “Oh, no!”, one might say, “No Government would be stupid enough to do that.” Well, people should consult history, because the National members sold the railroads.

The National members did not just sell the rolling stock when their thirst for ideology needed to be slaked back in the 1990s. They did not sell just the rolling stock. It was as though they were selling a truck company and the roads besides. They sold the railroads, and the end result of that was that we had an asset rundown in the 1990s. We had competitors priced off the track. Chaos was created in Auckland because nobody could get access to the suburban railroads. The track was not available to other people, and we let public transport run into disarray. This Government, because of some lucky timing and some good negotiation, managed to buy the track back for a dollar. None the less, that meant that the rail monopoly was broken. That means we can now have other people who are involved with the track aspect. Because the Government has bought back the tracks, it does mean we can now have some double tracking in Auckland. We can now have reinvestment in track. That sale of the railroads was a privatisation from hell.

The National Party has already said it wants to hock off airports. We should look at National’s history to see whether it did so before. We should ask ourselves what caused the original collapse of the National – New Zealand First coalition of 1997, 1998, and 1999. We should ask ourselves what happened in 1998 that caused that Government to fall to bits. Was it the privatisation of Wellington Airport? It most certainly was. If we look at what happened yesterday we see a review of the sale in 1995 of another airport, Paraparaumu Airport, before the New Zealand First Party formed part of the coalition Government. If we look hard at that sale, we find that it is full of errors. So said the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee yesterday. It said that an objective of the sale was to maintain the airport, but that it was not a condition of sale to maintain the airport. Can members believe that? The National members were to sell it to people who had an interest in an airport. Well, for goodness’ sake! At the price they got, less than one-half of the unencumbered valuation, one would have expected them to have people who were not only interested in maintaining an airport but who were committed to it, and were not shortening the runway and hocking offbits of real estate within months of the sale, for half the price they paid for the whole thing—none of that. But, no, that Government decided it had an ideology to move on sales. It needed to slake the thirst for that ideology, so it sold Paraparaumu Airport in the most extraordinary circumstances. The select committee found that, despite evidence that the airport was of strategic and national importance, it was sold without legal impediment to its sale.

  • The debate having concluded, the motion lapsed.