Maori Party comes out strongly against Foreign Ownership | Tariana Turia

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Last weeks state of the nation speeches by the National and Labour parties was another reminder that the Maori Party is the only independent voice for Maori in Parliament.

The National Party failed to mention Maori at all in their speech while the Labour Party could only muster up one mention and even then it was negative.

Both speeches focused on the state of the economy and the National Party delivered a rating winner for political commentators when it raised the suggestion of selling public assets.

Amongst the cries of shock and horror not one mention was given to the health and wellbeing of our people, our culture and our environment shouldnt social recovery drive the economy rather than the other way round?

Why are we measuring the health and wellbeing of our nation solely on the state of the economy?

Needless to say the $million question since the speeches were delivered has been what does the Maori Party think of selling public assets and the dreaded P word – privatisation?

Any decision about the privatisation of state assets or foreign investment in New Zealand, especially natural resources or strategic assets, should be made on a case by case basis.

The test for us is whether private ownership increases or decreases our rangatiratanga – our national sovereignty and our control over our own society and economy.

And equally important is the fact that we know iwi up and down the country are eager to explore the potential they see in public private partnerships.

Many iwi consider opportunities for infrastructure investment as an intergenerational asset to benefit the generations to come.

Public Private Partnerships was a key focus of the Iwi Leaders Forum held in the Te Kauhanganui Chambers of Waikato-Tainui that I attended in August 2010.

Fifty one iwi sent representatives to this forum and there were some impressive presentations on opportunities for iwi participation in public private partnerships.

We believe that iwi will be the economic powerhouses of the future therefore we must ensure that iwi are invited and enabled to take up key investment opportunities as the Treaty partner.

We are proud of the advances that have been achieved in encouraging Government to include Maori at the top table.

Iwi have been engaged at the highest level of decision-making in the Marine and Coastal Areas (Takutai Moana) Bill, Emissions Trading Scheme, education and water management so I am confident they will also be willing partners in taking up every opportunity for economic development.

And I do believe that if iwi want to invest their treaty settlements in state assets then that is protection for all New Zealanders.

The fact is that the government holding onto assets have never benefited Maori just look at power companies, the oil, gold and petroleum rights that had been sold to overseas investors which we are then forced to pay through our nose for.

Where privatisation is of particular concernis when or if the Government considers the option of selling our assets off to overseas investors.

We must protect and preserve what is ours – foreign ownership is a whole new ball game and not one that the Maori Party is looking to play.

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