Editorials 11 May 2010

The Herald looks at the Tuhoe negotiations:

At the best of times, reaching a comprehensive settlement over Waitangi claims is a delicate and tricky matter. But for a number of reasons the negotiations are proving especially difficult, and not just because some people in the National Government are becoming increasingly worried that their party is earning a reputation among voters for conceding too much to the Maori Party. …

But what makes the Tuhoe claim especially difficult is that the tribe is seeking a major concession that departs radically from precedents set in other Waitangi settlements. After two years of negotiations, Tuhoe remains adamant that ownership of Te Urewera National Park is at the top of its agenda.

If the Government were to concede, the resulting settlement would go far beyond any similar previous arrangements in which iwi have obtained significant areas of Department of Conservation land only to return them immediately as part of the deal. For instance, Ngai Tahu gave Aoraki/Mt Cook back to the nation after its settlement.

At a practical level, the Tuhoe claim seems to envisage something similar inasmuch as it promises that public access to some of the country’s most beautiful land would not be compromised in any way. But, importantly, it goes much further in aiming to take over the ownership and financial management of the land from the department after a 10-year transition period.

Given the justice of its claim, there is no question that Tuhoe is in line for major concessions and a payment that will be close to the Tainui and Ngai Tahu settlements of $170 million each. All the most recent historical research suggests the Tuhoe people were treated exceptionally harshly and that they are owed a full apology and generous compensation.

Tuhoe was always going to be the most challenging negotiation.

The Dom Post says must choose between Mayor and MP:

Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton is a man untrammelled by self-doubt.

In a political career that stretches back 45 years to his days on Manukau City Council, he has been a member of four political parties and fallen out with virtually every high-profile figure he has worked with. Never does it appear to have occurred to him that he could be in the wrong.

So true.

Hence it comes as no surprise that Mr Anderton believes he can perform the roles of MP for Wigram and Christchurch mayor at the same time. He is mistaken.

They are both fulltime positions. One is based in Christchurch; the other is split between Christchurch and Wellington. Both carry fulltime salaries.

Anderton will earn a total of just over $400,000 (including super and allowance) or over $7,500 a week doing both jobs.

Christchurch ratepayers are paying good money to be represented by a mayor who devotes his energies to advancing the city’s interests. He cannot perform that role if he is spending several days a week in Wellington.

Taxpayers are paying good money to Mr Anderton to represent the interests of his electorate in Parliament. He cannot perform that role from the mayoral chambers.

One could clone Saint Jim.

However, it is not Parliament’s role to serve as a safety net for politicians who would like new jobs but are not sure whether they are going to get them.

If Mr Anderton wins the Christchurch mayoralty in the October local body elections, he should resign from Parliament. In fact, he should give thought to resigning ahead of those elections, or at least take unpaid leave for the duration of the campaign, as many other candidates for public office are obliged to do.

Just as he will not be able to represent Wigram’s interests in Parliament if he becomes mayor, so he will not be able to do so on the campaign trail.

Saint Jim has a private members bill that requires an MP to resign from Parliament if they contest a by-election. Yet he thinks he should be able to contest a Mayoral election as an MP.

The Press looks at the UK:

For the Lib Dems, electoral reform is at the top of their wishlist in any deal, whether it be a formal coalition or the sort of support arrangements common in New Zealand, with either Cameron’s party or Labour’s Gordon Brown.

This stance is not surprising given last week’s disproportionate election result. While the Lib Dems got 23 per cent of the votes cast, which was a disappointment following polls showing them at abound 30 per cent at one point, they won about 200 fewer seats than Labour, which gained 29 per cent of the vote. At the other end of the scale, the Tories gained 36 per cent of the vote, but won about 47 per cent of the seats.

These sorts of outcomes are as palpably unfair and undemocratic as was the unreformed voting system in New Zealand, and Nick Clegg should hold firm to his party’s proportional representation policy as he talks to Cameron and Brown.

And the ODT:

The election result has presented Mr Clegg with choices: going into government with the old Conservative foe, risking alienating many in his own party ranks; or throwing in his lot with Mr Brown and a governing coalition otherwise comprising a number of smaller independents, the chief danger of this being the perception of Labour, a distant second in the poll, as tarnished.

This could work against any subsequent referendum on electoral reform, thus defeating the chief purpose of such an alliance.

The markets, already spooked by Greece, have shown their impatience.

Mr Clegg’s role as “king-maker” – one he might have formerly anticipated with some eagerness – has been served up by the voting public along with a generously sized poisoned chalice.

We await the outcome with fascination.

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