There are many big issues at the moment and two of the most important are the weakening of the RMA, and the Claim put to the Waitangi Tribunal today on Māori rights and ownership of water.
Both of these issues are interrelated and they are both connected to the exploitation of our natural resources for the illusory benefit of a few and the detriment of the many.
The report released last week by the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) outlines substantive changes to the principles of the RMA and as Green spokesperson Eugenie Sage says
The TAG recommendations are weighted towards facilitating development. This Government’s agenda is to weaken the RMA to advance its dig it, drill it, mine it, irrigate it agenda for resource exploitation. The proposal to drop the requirement for councils and decision makers to provide for the “preservation” of natural character and the “protection” of outstanding landscapes and significant indigenous vegetation and habitats as matters of national importance ignores Environment Court case law which had built up over the last 20 years. Changing these fundamental parts of the RMA will cause unnecessary litigation and tilt the playing field heavily towards development.
Yes this weakening of the RMA is a pretext for lowering standards to facilitate exploitation of our natural resources.
Fish & Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson has commented
The technical advisory group (TAG) seems to have gone way beyond its terms of reference, and indeed it smacks of political opportunism to fit a perceived Government ‘economic growth’ agenda,” Mr Johnson says removing the clause 7(h) – which specifically references ‘protection of the habitat of trout and salmon’ – would lead to further water quality decline.
“This would remove what water resource developers see as a roadblock to environmentally unsustainable development, enabling further and faster decline of freshwater quality. Make no mistake – any attempt to lessen the protection of trout and salmon habitat in the RMA is full-frontal attack on the environment.”
Very strong words indeed, highlighting the real concerns and danger of these recommendations from TAG. They need to relax the laws so that they can really get the exploitation ripping along – the Greens and Fish and Game NZ are fighting hard to stop them and Māori are too – just not the Maori Party.
And this issue directly relates to the other big issue of the moment. As The Māori Council nicely states
“Maori interests in national freshwater and geothermal resources will be crystal clear when Maori and specialist experts present their evidence to the Waitangi Tribunal hearing,” say New Zealand Maori Council co-chairs Sir Edward Taihakurei Durie and Maanu Paul.
“The claim sets out what interests Maori had and continue to have in springs, rivers, lakes, aquifers, waterways and geothermal resources,” said Sir Edward.
“The Council became concerned when Government announced its intention to sell off some of its assets without full consideration of the impact on Maori interests in water resources,” added Mr Paul. “The NZMC has a statutory responsibility to advise Government on behalf of all Maori.”
The Mana Party support the claim
"Government has consistently refused to deal with the Maori interest in water, instead running the line that "nobody" owns the water, while maintaining all rights of management and jurisdiction over it" said Harawira "but if that was the case, then what gives them the right to sell shares in power companies that use that water""
"Maoridom will be pleased to know that newly appointed Council co-chairman Sir Taihakurei Eddie Durie is spearheading the claim. Taihakurei Durie is one of this country's pre-eminent jurists, and has a greater understanding of the Treaty law than anyone else alive".
"I suspect that there will be many Pakeha supporting this claim as well" said Harawira "as more and more of them come to realise that The Treaty is the only chance of keeping our power companies in the people"s hands".
This line "nobody owns the water" that key is using is a smokescreen especially when in his next breath he says
"The Waitangi Tribunal's rulings are not binding on the Government, so we could choose to ignore what findings they might have - I'm not saying we would, but we could."
Get it? That is the key way - threats and spin. This will be a very interesting hearing and the report that comes out will show the truth, but the truth is irrelevant to key and his cronies. It is money they want and they will destroy us all to get it - well fuck them I say - we will stop them and we will do it with integrity and honesty - the two qualities our opposition lacks.