Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell: Foreshore and Seabed deals & dealing with Iran

November 2nd, 2009

national party 2005 election iwi zombie billboard
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So today, the government formally agrees to dump the foreshore and seabed legislation. On one level, this means karma retribution for National, which made so much of the iwi vs kiwi billboards in 2005 – since it will now fall to a National-led government to sort out a lasting solution. So far, the only consensus from the hui consultative process this year has been about the easy part – scrapping the status quo.

All the divisive, contradictory parts remain. Any solution has to recognize customary rights for iwi and hapu, while not making access for everyone else in any way conditional. Good luck with that. In all likelihood, the government’s ‘solution’ will be to do nothing – and let the issue go back to the courts for the judges to make a ruling, based on the pre-foreshore and seabed legal framework. The gist of any such ruling will not be whether customary rights exist so much, as to define their scope – and whether they include the equivalent of ordinary property rights.

In truth, it would be helpful – as well as politically expedient – for the Key government to have that legal landscape clarified by someone else before it acts. Yet act it must, ultimately– if only because it is unlikely that the courts will have been able to tidily square the circle. Looking ahead, it seems clear that neither customary rights nor free access can continue to have their current meaning, not if a workable compromise is to be achieved. That will mean political headaches all around.

The obvious problem will be for the government of the day. The public is likely to react badly to any solution that requires permission from Maori before anyone can visit the beach. Any compromise on its very raison d’etre would also be very difficult for the Maori Party, which – regardless – may have to evolve, and show that it is more than a one trick pony, fighting only for its corner.

To date, the Maori Party love affair with National has been conducted on the basis of the old Bob Dylan song : “I can’t help it if you think I’m odd / if I say I’m loving you not for what you are /but for what you’re not.” So far, National has been the NOT the foreshore and seabed option for Tariana Turia and her colleagues – yet soon, they will find out where National really is on this issue, and not just where it isn’t. Will the love be able to endure ?

***

Anti America Day (Again)

On Wednesday, the Iran will mark the 30th anniversary of the seizure of the US Embassy by Islamic students. A pretty hollow carnival seems likely, given the trifecta of problems staring the regime in the face. Firstly, the government has banned any demonstrations on Wednesday concerning this year’s disputed election. Two, it gets to decide this week on its response to the ingenious deal being offered by the International Energy Agency to ensure its right to peacefully pursue a nuclear capacity.

The final issue – which is likely to cause the most problems for the government in Teheran – concerns the level of compensation the poor will; get for the neo-liberal economic reform programme that Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmedinejad wants to carry out, and which involves the elimination of subsidies for basic food and energy.

Yesterday, the Iranian parliament voted to extend the subsidy compensation to all Iranians, and not simply to the poor. Since the amount budgeted will not change, this means less for the poor. This could really stoke social unrest, as this Reuters report suggests, since even the earlier compensation package offered nothing for the likely rise in food prices:

The business daily Sarmayeh said a family of four with a monthly income of about $400 would receive $68 under the plan, but that this would only cover the expected increase in gas and electricity prices. Its report preceded the parliamentary vote.

There were riots in 2007, Reuters points out, over gasoline rationing plans. Perhaps the crushing of the election protests has emboldened Ahmadinejad to proceed, on the basis that a similar expression of sheer force will intimidate anyone seeking to protest over his economic policies. Thus, any claim by the Iranian government to moral legitimacy continues to unravel.

As for the IEA…this plan would essentially see much of Iran’s nuclear activity transferred overseas, for other countries to peacefully process on Iran’s behalf, in order to meet the country’s valid energy needs. Unfortunately, the co-incidence of the 30th anniversary of the US embassy seizure has made Wednesday a virtual “anti-US day “ in Teheran, and that bodes badly for the deal’s acceptance. Hard to see the hardliners in Teheran taking such an escape route, at the very moment it is celebrating its most successful historical example of tweaking the nose of the Great Satan.

Especially so, when the world continues to remain selectively blind to Israel and its store of nuclear weapons, within the region. As even this Voice of America news report said a few days ago:

President Mahmoud [Ahmadinehad] said when an ‘illegal regime’ has nuclear weapons, it is impossible for other countries to be denied the right to have ‘peaceful nuclear energy.’

Well, exactly. As with the foreshore and seabed, everyone has to compromise, not just a designated few. Oh, and in a related newsflash : the Obama administration has just dropped its prior demand that Israel must cease building settlements in disputed territories before ‘peace’ talks begin. What a farce.

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    1. 6 Responses to “Gordon Campbell: Foreshore and Seabed deals & dealing with Iran”

    2. By Joe Blow on Nov 3, 2009 | Reply

      1. Foreshore and Seabed
      Yeah my desire for there to be a resolution to the Foreshore and Seabed issue outweighs my hatred for the National Party and a morbid desire to see it having difficulties with its coalition partners. I hope you’re right Gordon and they will repeal the Act and let them sort it out in the courts with the original ‘one law’ the way it always was. Although it sounds like they will be stewing around trying to find an alternative for a while. Still it’s amazing what can be done when you haven’t got a bigot stirring racial hatred in opposition. I genuinely wish them the best of luck with it.

      2. Iran and Israel
      I never held much hope for the policy towards Israel changing much under the Obama administration, specially with Obama being so pro the ‘War on Terror’ and anti-Hamas not to mention Iran and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons which plays right into the hands of Israeli wants and needs. However, when he came out with that hardline ultimatum to stop settlements and the Goldstone report came out I must admit that I suddenly felt like something could possibly change, but now after the Obama administration tried to deter Abbas from sending the report to the Security Council and this change in policy direction it looks like the US is sure to veto the allegation of war crimes being sent to the International Criminal Court which, you’re right, is a ‘farce’. What’s worse is that it isn’t just back to Bush, it’s worse than Bush, because as it says at the end of the article above in the Al Jazeera “Even the previous American administration [under George Bush] in Annapolis agreed that settlement activity should be frozen.”
      I’d love to know what is said behind the scenes. It really does leave one reeling with suspicions about the influence of the Israel lobby. Surely it’s not that simple and not the only factor at play here. I wonder if Netanyahu just threatened outright genocide instead of his ‘soft’ expansion of settlements approach… I guess this Administration has got a lot to learn about Israel and hopefully we’ll see a change in policy some time during its next term in office when there’s nothing to lose. One can only hope.
      Still it’d be nice to see Hillary out of the picture. Slowing the expansion of settlements is hardly a concession worth Abbas coming to the table for. He already nearly committed political suicide when he agreed to can sending the Goldstone report to the UN Security Council. The last thing he needs to do is look anymore like America’s puppet…

    3. By Joe Blow on Nov 4, 2009 | Reply

      Hillary has done another turn around re-emphasising the Obama Administration’s official position on freezing settlements. It appears that this whole fiasco is down to Netanyahu being very forceful about refusing to stop settlements and a major gaffe on Hillary’s part in her natural inclination to massage Israel’s ego. The sooner they get her away from the Middle East the better!

      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/world/middleeast/03diplo.html?_r=1&ref=middleeast

      I’m glad it’s not all down to the Israel lobby…

    4. By Jane on Nov 6, 2009 | Reply

      Joe, Hillary is controlled by the Israel Lobby. Look up Haim Saban. He’s the puppet master in the Democratic party and of Hillary and Bill. I suspect Obama had to do a deal with him in order to get Hillary to bow out of the presidential race. Obama’s administration is filled with Zionists and Mossad is allowed to operate within the USA. No hope for fairness in the MIddle East any time soon.

    5. By Joe Blow on Nov 6, 2009 | Reply

      So Hillary is the Israel lobby then? I know she’s pro-Israel but surely there is still some room for the administration to stray from what the lobby wants… At least they’re back to the Bush policy again!

      The Goldstone report is getting a pretty high profile in the media and it is looking to be voted through to the Security General by the UN General Assembly meaning that the US will have to veto it in very public circumstances…

      Yeah I know it’s hardly a change but it is something to watch and wait and see as not even Haim Saban can stop it from happening…

    6. By Jum on Nov 8, 2009 | Reply

      NAct want the seabed and foreshore to be freed up for Maori for private ownership which means a free for all by the moneymen who will tempt Maori to part with it. (What happened to Maori guardianship meaning caring of the land. Now it’s title, ownership, learning fast the rules of greed. They’re babes in arms however compared to the business rotundtable.)

      Then no NZers will have any access to the beach except through some payment or other. That’s if we can see the beach through the skyscrapers and the ‘Charlies’ cafes dotting the beachfront.

    7. By Joe Blow on Nov 9, 2009 | Reply

      Actually, if the Act is repealed and the common law is once again allowed to govern native title as it always should have, Maori will have to show that they still have customary rights to particular areas of the Foreshore and Seabed. To do this they would have to show that they still have a relationship with the particular piece of land in the courts which has not proved easy for the Aboriginals in Australia.
      You sound like another victim of Don Brash’s scaremongering…

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