Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Indigenous rights, secrecy wrong

Today the NZ Government reversed policy and backed a United Nations resolution on the rights of indigenous people. When the resolution was adopted back in September 2008, four countries voted no: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States—all countries trying to resolve issues with their indigenous people.

The National Party-led government signalled nearly a year ago that it would back the resolution. Back then, Prime Minister John Key said it was “an aspirational, non-binding declaration.” That’s important because the resolution was mandating special accommodation to indigenous peoples. Today, Key said the move was “just another symbolic sign”.

So, the government thinks the move is purely symbolic and of no real practical consequence. Then why was it necessary to send Pita Sharples to New York in secret? Whatever the merits of this endorsement, the secrecy just feels wrong. John Key owes us a full explanation.

Update: The neoconservative Act Party is pissed off at John Key. They hate this whole thing, declaring that Key was "naive in the extreme" to suggest it would have no practical effect. They also said the secret move violated the no-surprises clause of the confidence and supply agreement with the Act Party. But party leader Rodney Hide predictably declared their agreement isn't in trouble. Of course he'd say that. He knows damn well that if an election were held now, Act would probably cease to exist, so he has to stick with National no matter what—it's the only way they'll ever be part of government (and they probably won't even be in Parliament after the 2011 elections).

No comments: