Arguments over the UN declaration

The Herald reports:

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says the Government’s support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People is more than just symbolism and it will be used to further claims of self-determination by iwi.

And Act Party leader Rodney Hide launched a stinging attack in Parliament not just on the decision to back the declaration but on Prime Minister John Key, calling him “naive in the extreme” to suggest it would have no practical effect.

It is very clear that he declaration has not status in law, and it has no legal effect.

However I would not go quite so far as to say it will have no practical effect. I am sure Iwi and others will use in advocacy on various issues, and it may have some “moral” effect – just as other non binding UN declarations can have some moral effect on decision making.

The UN recently reviewed NZ’s human rights records and recommended we do not introduce tasers. Now that excited the Greens and they used that to argue that we should not fully introduce them, but the Government has happily ignored the UN on this issue.

Labour leader Phil Goff said the National-led Government was trying to marry together forces that were totally opposed to each other.

“What we are seeing is the impossibility of balancing out the interests between the Act Party, the Maori Party and the National Party.”

He denounced the secrecy surrounding the announcement and said the Maori Party had been “duped”.

It is no secret the ACT Party and Maori Party disagree on many issues. But one doesn’t need them to agree, just as Winston and Jim Anderton didn’t agree on much (apart from the fact they both should have been Prime Minister).

The travel plans were kept secret – and the announcement made yesterday at 4.45am in New York.

Mr Key defended the secrecy yesterday, saying he hadn’t wanted to steal Dr Sharples’ thunder.

The intention was to make this a big thing for Dr Sharples, and it is a significant win for him. However Ministers should not be doing secret overseas trips, unless to dangerous war zones.

I also regard it as bad political management that ACT found out through the media. Under “no surprises” they should have been told in confidence.

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