Goldsmith Update - April 2023

Goldsmith Update – ANZAC edition

As autumn settles in, we take time each year to commemorate those who paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their life for their country. Lest we forget.

My family remembers Edgar Penman, my great grandmother’s brother, who lost his life at Gallipoli.

The scars of the Great War and the Second World War that followed it are still carried through the generations. Only gradually do they heal. We have been fortunate indeed to have lived in peace for so many decades.

Continuing peace should never be taken for granted, however. Which is why it is pleasing to see the Trans-Tasman relationship, which is so critical economically and strategically, has been given a boost with the Aussie’s move on citizenship rights for Kiwis.

The War for Talent

A more benign battle is under way between the nations, however. The war for talent is raging during a period of skills shortages around the world. The timing of the Australian citizenship move was striking and not accidental. It comes at a time when they’re very keen to attract our skilled workers.

It will have big implications and underlines the importance of building a strong economy here that can compete with Australia. National focuses on economic growth and improving productivity. Sadly, this Labour government is interested only in redistribution and higher taxes on the most highly skilled.

Nicola Willis comes to Epsom

National’s deputy leader, Nicola Willis, is coming to town for a public meeting on Family Boost, our policy to help young families with the cost of childcare, and the Cost of Living.

Inflation is eating into people’s savings and weekly budgets. Our inflation-fighting plan is to get the Reserve Bank focused solely on inflation, to stop unnecessary costs to businesses and the productive economy, to reduce bottlenecks in the economy (such as worker shortages) which are holding back growth, restoring discipline to government spending and adjusting tax rates for inflation to stop workers going backwards.

Where Labour’s idea of co-governance leads

Last week the New Zealand Herald published my article on co-governance. Because it was behind their paywall, may didn’t see it. Here it is in full:

New Zealand is one of the world’s oldest continuous democracies. Of this we are rightly proud.
One of the pillars of democracy is that every adult has an equal say in who governs them, and through that vote, an equal say in important government decisions affecting their lives.

Some of those decisions are about water, which is essential for life. All of us have a shared interest in the reliable supply of clean drinking water, efficient wastewater systems and resilient stormwater - the so-called “Three Waters”.

But the idea of an equal say in civic and national affairs - which most Kiwis have taken for granted for decades, is under direct attack by the Labour Government. The current example is the Three Waters reforms – however rebranded. The Government proposes 10 new entities that will oversee local water services, guided by boards appointed by representative groups that are 50 per cent Māori and 50 per cent everyone else.

The Minister in charge, Kieran McAnulty concedes that the proposals have moved away from a one-person, one-vote approach to democracy. He followed up with the extraordinary statement: ‘There are provisions that we have in this country that wouldn’t stand up to a purely academic democratic framework, but that’s not how we work in New Zealand’. The radical view that honouring the Treaty of Waitangi requires 50:50 decision making between Maori and everyone else has been adopted by the Labour government for the water reforms.

The National Party rejects that view because 50:50 co-governance in matters of important public policy is inconsistent with equal voting rights and equal standards of citizenships. Mr McAnulty and Labour Ministers keep referring to examples of co-governance from the National era: over the management of the Waikato and Wanganui Rivers. There is a huge leap from involving local iwi in the management of a significant natural resource like a river, to saying that all water infrastructure in New Zealand will be governed on a 50:50 co-governance basis.

That idea leads us down a dangerous path; a path that leads in the opposite direction to the idea we started with – that every adult in New Zealand should have an equal say in who governs them and in who makes important government decisions affecting their lives. This is not just scaremongering, as some people allege. Labour has already taken the first steps in moving New Zealand’s electoral law away from equal voting rights.

They did this by passing the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngai Tahu Representation) Bill, which gives Ngai Tahu the right to appoint two councillors. In Canterbury right now, Cantabrians elect 14 councillors. Everyone gets a vote – Māori, Pakeha and everyone else. And then something extraordinary happens. Ngāi Tahu appoints two more councillors. No voting and no election. This is not a Māori ward, allocated proportionately to the population. These are additional appointments made by an independent entity – Ngāi Tahu. Something like the English aristocracy of old.

Labour MPs have said they want this kind of arrangement in all councils. If the logic holds at local government that Māori votes should carry more weight than everyone else’s, how long is before an argument is made for changes at the central government level? Perhaps an Upper House with 50:50 representation? Ultimately, this takes New Zealand in the direction of two standards of citizenship. Show me another country in the world that works well and has different standards of citizenship, based on ethnicity.

National supports public services being delivered the best way to meet need, and in many cases Māori providers will do the best job. But National does not support the co-governance of public services, or separate systems for Māori and non-Māori. National supports one standard of citizenship for all. Meantime, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, like his predecessor, has never explained or justified the Canterbury Bill and has failed to put forward a coherent explanation for the 50:50 arrangements in the Three Waters legislation. He plays the latter down as advisory, which is nonsense. But what is despicable is New Zealand’s Prime Minister characterising opposition to his Three Waters proposals as ‘dog whistle racism’. Mr Hipkins dishonours his office by heading a government that makes profound constitutional changes, without explaining or justifying them, and lazily denouncing any criticism as racism.

We all deserve better than that.

All the best

Paul Goldsmith | MP