Editorials 16 June 2010

The Herald says the reshuffle is only the start for Labour:

Probably the most notable aspect of the Labour Party’s reshuffle was Phil Goff’s acknowledgment that further change is needed.

Halfway through the electoral term, his party is struggling to dent the Government’s popularity, despite the helping hand provided by policies such as the mining of the conservation estate and an increase in GST.

Clearly, Mr Goff will need to place more figures with vigour and political appeal around him before the end of the year. Yesterday’s reshuffle of positions and responsibilities should have been merely the starting point. …

Mr Goff has acted decisively against those exposed for their misuse of credit cards. A tougher test will be orchestrating a thorough Labour renewal this year.

The party’s failure to gain traction leaves Labour that option or one other – a resuffle from the bottom, in which Mr Goff and deputy Annette King are moved by their colleagues rather than the other way around.

I believe Goff is safe until the election.

The other three editorials are on the foreshore and seabed announcement. First The Press:

The 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act was one of the most contentious and deeply flawed pieces of legislation passed by the previous government.

The act stripped Maori of the basic right to have the courts test foreshore and seabed claims and led to the split in Labour ranks which produced the Maori Party. Labour was subsequently unable to find an acceptable alternative to its legislation but now Prime Minister John Key has achieved just this, with a solution that is fairer for all New Zealanders. …

For Key and Attorney-General Chris Finlayson, the agreement brokered this week is one of the most significant achievements of their first term in the Beehive. It offers the prospect of a balanced and lasting settlement to a divisive issue which has for six years been, as Key aptly noted, a “weeping sore” in New Zealand.

And the Dom Post:

A last-minute pre-Cabinet meeting on Monday, involving Mr Key, Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson, the Maori Party and the Iwi Leadership Group, came up trumps. In a deal that is too timid for some Maori and too bold for some Pakeha, the hated 2004 legislation will go, foreshore and seabed now vested in the Crown will become “public space”, which cannot be sold, and customary title and customary rights will be recognised by way of a new court process or direct negotiations with the Crown.

Mr Key seemed genuinely to want this agreement. He has increasingly grasped the uncomfortable fact that the country cannot move forward unless and until Maori grievances are honourably settled. With that at least partially achieved thanks to Monday’s deal, the prime minister, Maori Party MPs and iwi leaders, however, must do more than pat each other on the back. That many Kiwis are unhappy almost goes without saying.

And finally the ODT:

The Government has had its way with its favoured plan, and despite contending otherwise, has made some concessions whose effective outcome may be determined not by elected Parliament but by unelected courts – hardly a desirable situation in a property-owning democracy headed by a Government which purports to have sought “balance” in its scheme.

The Maori Party can claim a long-term gain sufficient to cover any embarrassment about its short-term compromise.

There may yet be room for adjustment, or at least for some acknowledgement of the equal status – if it still exists – of the vast majority of New Zealanders, including urban non-tribal Maori, whose future connection with the foreshore and seabed is apparently to be legally classified as of inferior virtue.

Thus does grievance lie upon grievance.

The ODT very unhappy it seems.

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