As we head towards Waitangi Day a core issue for the Government is about to be tested. Pitching the Sale of State Owned Energy Companies will be fraught with subtle yet powerful undertones that will test Nationals mettle and it’s real desire to forge a long lasting relationship with Maori.
The easy route would be to complete the round of consultation hui and satisfy the Governments ‘obligation’ to consult. But, I suspect iwi and Maori are well past the box-ticking mentality.
Perhaps even some concessions that would see c.9 of the SoE Act being substituted for something ‘more meaningful’ to the current political landscape, the PM may even a propose to iwi a shareholding interest in SoEs (albeit too small to be effective).
But the Real Issue confronting all New Zealanders – Maori and Paakeha alike is that we have a vested interest in these SoEs not because of some romantic view that the State knows best, but that we must take leadership and derive the benefits from more efficient and high performing companies that deliver to us as citizens. Privatisation in itself will be a shortsighted gain with very few people benefiting – the risk being greater disparity between ‘haves and have nots’.
Waitangi Day is a time to see who walks their talk, a debate on retaining a Treaty of Waitangi clause in the SoE Act must not detract from the central issue of keeping kiwi assets in kiwi hands. Now is a time to have Maori on your side!