Poor Analysis a Cause of “Closing the Gaps” Shambles?
Monday 18th Dec 2000 Stephen Franks Media Release -- Justice
“Ministry of Justice reports on Treaty of Waitangi issues are unbelievably woeful. If this is the so-called policy
“analysis” they rely on, it helps explain how the Government ended the year with Closing the Gaps in a complete
shambles,” says ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks.
“The Justice and Electoral Select Committee Financial Review released Friday is politely sceptical. But most of us
seemed gob-smacked at the committee hearing by the poverty of the Ministry advice on Treaty clauses in legislation.
“We expected analysis that worked its way through the hard issues. Ministers should be told of the problems for judges
interpreting Treaty slogans written as law. Usually, policy analysis tries to estimate the costs in terms of resources
applied in disputes, the behavioural incentives to litigate or to seek political solutions etc when there is
“This justice advice instead looks like something a first year Maori Studies student might offer for a tutorial paper.
“Ministers get more useful advice from newspaper columns than they got from the Ministry of Justice but they presumably
got what they asked for. The hostility to Dr Simon Chapple’s report warned officials to tell Ministers what they wanted
to hear, and not rigorous or thorough advice.
“There are plenty of sources of more rigorous evaluation. Sir Tipene O’Regan, Colin James, Simon Upton, Dr Simon
Chapple, Professor Ken Minogue, David Round, even Sir Douglas Graham have warned that race preference provisions in
legislation raise political and economic issues that go to the heart of law. But justice advisers should be setting out
the effects on fundamental protections such as equality before the law, property rights, vexed questions such as “who is
a Maori”, and who speaks for them, to exercise special Maori privilege.
“The Ministers are instead getting piffle, but perhaps that is all they ask for,” said Mr Franks.