Te Ururoa's sideshow
I went to one of Te Ururoa Flavell's foreshore and seabed 'roadshow' public meetings on the coast last night. The Waiariki MP had encountered compliant crowds all day, but not at this one. He was told in very clear terms and it was amply demonstrated by many participants that the foreshore and seabed deal the Party have struck with the Nats is basically worthless. Tariana Turia has made a Q and A video (in the tubemeke part of the sidebar) and he showed it at the meeting. I'd seen it twice before and had made notes, particularly the question of the "political reality" where she says of the new foreshore and seabed bill:
"if we were negotiating on what's fair, just and moral, then we would have a very different outcome."
I asked Te Ururoa and he was forced to concur that what was negotiated is unfair, unjust and immoral. And yet the salesman still wanted us to buy it. Like changing the wrapper on a shit sandwich is going to change the taste - it still reeks, we all know what it is - and it ain't fucking vegemite.
Tariana in her video said they would send someone - I guess that's him and the MPs - around for a week to talk to people about it. We certainly told him what we thought. More like roadkill than roadshow.
Tariana advised in her video that this was basically the best deal National would give and she went on to compare 3% max compensation for confiscation under Crown's current Treaty settlement policy to what could be had via the new foreshore and seabed bill. She went there. If it's not 100% though it's still confiscation and that's the problem. It ain't right. She was asking Maori to lower their expectations and that's a very hard sell to people who have had low expectations enforced upon them from outside, have had to un-learn that, and see in the Maori Party the opportunity to address these abuses of government.
[My comments in red]
Te Ururoa gave his presentation largely without interruption, but when he recounted the timeline there was dispute. He was trying to be nonchalant about the Nats "speeding things up." I said the cutting short of the select committee process is the same shit that Labour pulled in 2004 with the original bill and that it will all come down to a back room deal with the Nats screwing the Maori Party in the same way it came down to Dale Jones and Michael Cullen screwing Maori over in 2004. The Nats have out-flanked them.
Who is running the timetable, I said - National, he replied. Who wrote the bill? National. Whose bill is this? National's. It's not the Maori Party's bill at all. So why the hell vote for it? It's not the 2004 Act itself that has to be repealed it is the confiscation mechanisms that must be repealed - that's the important bit, if they got rid of those bits then the Act would be OK. Trying to claim the repeal of the Act in itself is some achievement is nonsense if the confiscation clauses are merely restated in the new bill. Repeal of the 2004 Act in these circumstances is not a promise worth keeping.
He trotted out the all the red herring talking points that our mate Ben had prepared for Finlayson as if they were his own. A diligent salesman, but he's no details man. The patronising shit about why a Minister can't approve a negotiated settlement was ripe. Having to go through legislation rather than a Ministerial decision via order-in-council for the award of title was challenged. How is it fair, I asked, that someone, or a company, can get freehold title for reclaimed land out of s.245 of the RMA via a Minister, but Maori title cannot be done via a Minister because... they can't be trusted. Ridiculous and insulting as well as inconsistent.
I said the bottom lines of access to court is too vague and allows the confiscation to take place via the tests - and that the test is framed by Finlayson's SOP at clause 61 to be just like the old FSA 2004 one. I had lost him at this stage and he said he hadn't read it and that wasn't filling me or the other people present with much confidence. He said there was still time to walk away from the deal. If only that were true - they've already committed themselves and they will be out-manoeuvred. As one of the other people put it: "the Maori Party may be working harder [than others], but not smarter." Hone saw the writing on the wall and that's why he ran a light year from the bill (he was on the select committee). Te Ururoa said they've already agreed to back them on everything except the SOPs (that he knew nothing about) and that discussion may be a break point. It should be, but it didn't sound like they were contemplating anything of the sort.
After a rough session where we remained unconvinced this bill would do anything other than legitimise all the mining and drilling that is planned by the Crown and will lock in the confiscations that have happened all the way to 2011, Te Ururoa breezily attempted to use the same old bullshit line about being open to ideas. This was too much. They cut the process short and say they will do all the changes at committee stage/2nd reading, but we won't have any chance to object to it then. We can't properly tell him yes or no now to the bill because we don't know what the law will say - and neither does he. It is preposterous.
I said I had put forward ideas at select committee stage but had seen no evidence that anything I or anyone else that wasn't a big infrastructure company had said was taken on board. So how long have we got to get back to him with our ideas that he will be listening to (before the caucus votes for whatever the Nats put in anyway?) I asked. Realistically, I said, how long have we got to email you our ideas on this bill before it's too late. I had my pen poised over my pad and I kept looking at it as he struggled to find an answer. All I could hear was the ticking of the clock and him shuffling papers around for what seemed like an age. I didn't look up at him, just at the tip of the pen. The meeting waited in silence. Then he finally said: "a week." I took a long blink, looked up and repeated, slowly: a week. Maybe it was my unchecked expression of derision that did it, maybe it was the laughter from the others, maybe it was the earlier exchange over Hone and who would be the next male leader of the party now "you pulled the pin on him" that had something to do with it, but he seemed a little irked. "A week," he repeated. "One week" I repeated in disbelief. "You wanted a time: a week." - he reiterated tersely. There was more silence as the bad punchline to an even worse joke sunk in. No one had to say anything - it's a farce.