Sharples: let iwi veto foreign investment

By Derek Cheng

Pita Sharples. Photo / Supplied
Pita Sharples. Photo / Supplied

A minimum wage of $16 an hour, an iwi veto on foreign investment, and a policy for state assets to remain New Zealand-owned are among the Maori Party's wishlist this election.

The party's election manifesto, released at the weekend, includes many policies from 2008 such as superannuation from the age of 60 for those with lower life expectancy.

Among new policies is inserting a clause into the overseas investment law "to give iwi the first right of refusal".

Others include compulsory te reo in schools from 2015, a minimum wage of $16 an hour ($1 more than Mana, Labour and the Greens want), a financial transaction tax such as what the Mana Party has proposed, and a moratorium on offshore oil drilling.

The policy document does not include costings of the policies.

During the minor party leaders' debate yesterday on TVNZ's Q+A programme, co-leader Pita Sharples said he would only support partial asset sales if the shares were all New Zealand-owned.

"For those particular companies, iwi have shown interest and that's a form of saving and we need to save in New Zealand.

"If they want to do that, we would support them to invest in that."

The National Party wants to sell shares in Air New Zealand and four energy companies while retaining 51 per cent Crown ownership, but it is not imposing rules to prevent overseas ownership of shares.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, who quit the Maori Party this year, was staunchly opposed to the policy.

"Why on earth are we selling assets that we already own back to ourselves?"

The Maori Party manifesto's central focus was Whanau Ora and iwi-based solutions for Maori issues, such as marae-based health clinics and having each of the 5843 Maori organisations employ two Maori youths.

Several policies were aimed at alleviating poverty, such as a power rebate every year for low-income families, universal services for children under 6, and no tax on the first $25,000 of income.

It also called for all new laws to be vetted against the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and to include a statement on the impact on inequality, and for free trade agreements to adhere to Treaty principles.

At the campaign launch at the weekend Dr Sharples, 70, and co-leader Tariana Turia, 67, said they did not expect to be in politics beyond the end of the next parliamentary term in 2014.

Mrs Turia, who holds the safe seat of Te Tai Hauauru, said she might even retire before then.

- NZ Herald

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