I am very pleased to report that the glimmer of hope for the restoration of the fundamental principles of democracy and the equality of citizenship has turned into a ray of sunshine! The incoming Government has released their coalition agreement which, if the parties stay true to their word, will make a significant contribution towards delivering the real change many of us voted for.
National, Act and NZ First have committed to a policy programme that will go a long way to restore democracy in the many areas where it has been eroded. The coalition agreement includes the following policies relating to “the principles of liberal democracy, including equal citizenship and parliamentary sovereignty”.
✔ The Coalition Government will defend the principle that New Zealanders are equal before the law, with the same rights and obligations, and with the guarantee of the privileges and responsibilities of equal citizenship in New Zealand.
✔ The Coalition Government will work to improve outcomes for all New Zealanders and will not advance policies that seek to ascribe different rights and responsibilities to New Zealanders on the basis of their race or ancestry.
✔ The Coalition Government will reverse measures taken in recent years which have eroded the principle of equal citizenship, specifically we will:
✔ Remove co-governance from the delivery of public services.
✔ As a matter of urgency, issue a Cabinet Office circular to all central government organisations that it is the Government’s expectation that public services should be prioritised on the basis of need, not race.
✔ Restore the right to local referendum on the establishment or ongoing use of Māori wards, including requiring a referendum on any wards established without referendum at the next Local Body elections.
✔ Stop all work on He Puapua.
✔ Confirm that the Coalition Government does not recognise the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as having any binding legal effect on New Zealand.
✔ Amend section 58 of the Marine and Coastal Area Act to make clear Parliament’s original intent, in light of the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Whakatohea Kotahitanga Waka (Edwards) & Ors v Te Kahui and Whakatohea Maori Trust Board & Ors  NZCA 504.
✔ Amend the Waitangi Tribunal legislation to refocus the scope, purpose, and nature of its inquiries back to the original intent of that legislation.
✔ Conduct a comprehensive review of all legislation (except when it is related to, or substantive to, existing full and final Treaty settlements) that includes “The Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi” and replace all such references with specific words relating to the relevance and application of the Treaty, or repeal the references.
✔ Introduce a Treaty Principles Bill based on existing ACT policy and support it to a Select Committee.
✔ Stop work on Three Waters.
✔ Repeal and replace the Natural and Built Environment Act 2023 and the Spatial Planning Act 2023.
✔ Replace the National Policy Statement for Freshwater 2020 to rebalance Te Mana o te Wai to better reflect the interests of all water users.
✔ Ensure government contracts are awarded based on value, without racial discrimination.
✔ Repeal the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Act 2022.
✔ Ensure a ‘National Interest Test’ is undertaken before New Zealand accepts any agreements from the UN and its agencies that limit national decision-making and reconfirm that New Zealand’s domestic law holds primacy over any international agreements.
As you can see, there is much to be pleased about. You can read more at:
While there are issues that still need attention - such as the lack of commitment to no co-governance arrangements over natural resources, and National's pledge to support a Treaty Principles Bill only as far as the Select Committee stage - overall, these documents represent a significant programme of reform. But we will need to be vigilant - until these changes are made into reality, they are just words. Our job now is to hold the Government's feet to the fire to make sure they do follow through with their promises.
In the meantime, let’s show our support to the leaders of the coalition by sending congratulatory messages for a job well done.
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