Winston Peters has complained about the amount of money that has been paid to Treaty claim negotiators. NZ Herald reports:
A total of $7.8 million has been paid to 13 negotiators, among whom are five former Labour and National MPs: Labour’s Rick Barker, Paul Swain and Fran Wilde, and National’s Paul East and Sir Douglas Graham.
Mr Peters then described the payments as “colossal and unjustified” to media.
That sounds like a lot of money – but there are billions of dollars involved in the Treaty claims and they can’t be settled without negotiating. Peters doesn’t seem to be suggesting any alternatives, he’s just making headlines targeting what he knows some people will be annoyed about. He’s Treaty bashing for political gain.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson took offence at Peters’ comments.
Speaking in Parliament last night, Mr Finlayson said the comments were unfair, disgusting, vulgar and crude, and accused him of an “intemperate attack” on the negotiators.
“These external negotiators are very good value for money, providing excellent service and are achieving results,” Mr Finlayson said.
“I say to New Zealand First that their tendency to personalise things and attack the individuals as they have done with my treaty negotiators is something I resent and something I think is quite simply disgusting.
“These people are good people and I am very proud of the work they are doing regardless of party or regardless of background.”
Mr Finlayson said John Wood, chancellor at Canterbury University, had done “phenomenally well” in two difficult treaty negotiations: Tuhoe and the Whanganui River.
“Mr Peters is nothing more than the Donald Trump of New Zealand politics who wants nothing more than a cheap headline.”
Always looking for opportunities for cheap headlines Peters responded.
Mr Peters lashed out himself saying Mr Finlayson needed to “get a grip and stop reverting to hissy fits every time some truth is told about his organisational spending”.
“Reverting to diversions and straw men in some vain attempt to avert attention from gross expenditure items to individual treaty settlement negotiators simply won’t do,” Mr Peters said.
“The public will want to know just what sort of complexity justifies those extraordinary costs and Mr Finlayson needs to know that puerile attacks on me are going to have no effect at all.”
Peters uses some interesting phrases:
- “get a grip”
- “hissy fits”
- “reverting to diversions”
- “straw men
- “vain” and “attempt”
- “puerile attacks”
- “have no effect at all”
There could be some projection amongst that.
The Herald headline is Finlayson dubs Winston Peters ‘Donald Trump of NZ politics’.
For every Donald Trump or Winston Peters attention seeker there are a number of willing media attention givers.
Finlayson’s speech in Parliament yesterday:
Maori, Other Populations, and Cultural Sector
Speech – Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations)
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations): I want to take a call on Vote Treaty Negotiations and thank the previous speaker for her helpful comments on the Post Settlement Commitments Unit.
She raises some very interesting issues, and I agree with her that early engagement, particularly with local government, provides opportunities and also enables issues to be clarified at an early stage, and that is exactly what I want to do on the harbours negotiations, which are coming up.
I also want to pay tribute to the Office of Treaty Settlements for their excellent work over the past 12 months. They are a very dedicated bunch of people, and I am very proud to work with them. Some of them also act as Treaty negotiators. So, for example, Ngāti Hauā and Heretaunga Tamatea were negotiated in-house, and that is my plan with Ngāpuhi as well.
But I do want to say something about the money expended on external Treaty negotiators, because of what I think was a vulgar, crude, and intemperate attack on them by the right honourable Mr Peters earlier in the day, where he said that the fees were colossal and somewhat bizarrely said that I was giving jobs to my mates.
I am very fond of both Paul Swain and Rick Barker, but I do not know that they would want to be called my mates. Unlike that honourable member, I do have great respect for them.
I asked Mr Swain some years ago whether he would like to work with me on the Ngati Porou matter, and he did such a very good job that I asked him whether he would work on some others. So in recent times Paul Swain has negotiated the Taranaki settlement, which will, hopefully, be signed in September; Mana Ahuriri ; Ngāti Hineuru, which we are going to debate for the first time tomorrow; and Maungaharuru-Tangitū . Mr Swain is an excellent negotiator, and if anything I do not think he charges enough. I have huge respect for him.
The second person that Mr Peters insulted was Mr Barker. I approached him after he left Parliament in 2011 and asked whether he would like to do a few negotiations for me, and he is doing a great job—for example, Te Atiawa; Ngā Ruahine , which we are debating for the first time tomorrow—so I am very happy to say that these external negotiators are very good value for money, are providing excellent service, and are achieving results.
I say to New Zealand First members that their tendency to personalise things and attack the individual, as they have done with my Treaty negotiators, is something I resent and something I think is quite simply disgusting.
As I said this afternoon to a journalist, Mr Peters is nothing more than the Donald Trump of New Zealand politics, who wants nothing more than a cheap headline.
These people are good people, and I am very proud of the work they are doing, regardless of party and regardless of background.
Another person that the right honourable member attacked this afternoon was John Wood, who is the chancellor of Canterbury University and has been doing an excellent job there. He was twice our ambassador in Washington, and he is an outstanding public servant who has negotiated two extremely difficult Treaty negotiations and done phenomenally well. I refer to his negotiation with Tūhoe and his landmark negotiation in respect of the Whanganui river.
These are the sorts of people I have had working with me over the years, regardless of party and regardless of background, and they are dedicated to achieving just and durable settlements for the benefit of New Zealand.
If the New Zealand First speaker who obviously wants to stand up next for his penny’s worth has any decency he will apologise to those people, because his leader’s statements were unfair and were simply disgusting.
The final point I want to make is in relation to reform of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act , because I do think that the Hon Nanaia Mahuta was a little unfair on that issue. This is the first comprehensive rewrite of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act for well over a generation.
The 1993 Act was never really fit for purpose, and so what we are seeking to do is take a fresh look at it. There has been an exposure draft put out to enable proper discussion, and there are lots of issues, and we make no apologies for the fact that there is a lot of work to be done there, polishing the jewel so that everyone benefits from the reform.