INDEPENDENT NEWS

Brash Report: Keep Racial Politics Out Of Researc

Published: Thu 2 Oct 2003 03:56 PM
The Brash Report
An update from National's Finance spokesman
No. 18, 1 October 2003
Keep racial politics out of research
Racial divisions in New Zealand are being heightened by this Government. My colleague, Simon Power, recently issued a press statement setting out an appalling list of cases illustrating how this Government's policies are intensifying racial divisiveness in the research field.
Otago University provided the most recent example when its Council voted (by 10 votes to 2) to require all research projects to be the subject of prior consultation with Ngai Tahu.
He cited the research project at Lincoln University studying foot-rot in sheep that was denied funding because its Maori reference group felt 'the outcomes for Maori need to be better targeted'. And a research project at Canterbury University into the growth of paua and crayfish was canned because it didn't have strong enough Maori connections.
Just this month the Government announced that the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology is putting almost $2 million 'to support research that is driven by the priorities identified by hapu, iwi and Maori organisations'.
Meanwhile, the Government has cut back sharply on the funding of soil science (crucial to our farming industry) and completely cut research on bees.
This defies sanity. Where is New Zealand heading? There is absolutely no basis whatsoever for preferring one racial group to another when allocating research money, or indeed for allocating anything else. We are all New Zealanders, equal before the law, whether we are Maori, European, Asian, or whatever.
The RMA' again
It's interesting the Government has decided the Resource Management Act is far too cumbersome, but only when the Government wants to do something itself. Indications are the Cabinet will shortly consider a new process, giving the Government power to bypass the RMA for 'worthy' infrastructure projects.
So the Government will simply bypass the RMA when it wants an investment made promptly, yet leave the private sector to swear and curse over delays and costs.
The RMA needs to be fundamentally reformed, and quickly, for everyone's benefit.
Welfare
Welfare dependency has been reduced recently in the United States and Canada, according to figures just released by the US National Center for Policy Analysis. Welfare beneficiaries in the US fell 46% between 1994 and 2002, while the Canadian number fell by 38% over the same period. These figures were sent to me by Lindsay Mitchell who, as some readers will know, has been active in advocating a Parliamentary review of the Domestic Purposes Benefit.
She points out that, by contrast, New Zealand welfare rolls have remained virtually static over the last decade despite a big drop in unemployment. In 1991, when unemployment was high, 20% of the working-age population were on a benefit. In 2002, the number was 19.8% - despite last year's very buoyant economy, caused by the low exchange rate in 2000 and 2001 and strong immigration.
Katherine Rich's discussion paper on welfare reform has prompted many submissions from National Party members and the public, and National is now preparing robust policies to grapple with New Zealand's serious welfare dependency problem.
Last Saturday's speech
My speech to an ACT conference in Christchurch, "A Nation in Peril" attracted a lot of media interest but hardly for the right reasons! A number of people have urged me to present the speech to a wider audience, so I encourage you to look at what I did say (using the link) and not what some of the media say I said!
It is one of the most important speeches I have given.
Don Brash
More of my speeches can be seen on my website: http://www.donbrash.com

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