National pushes one-law-for-all policy

National leader Don Brash has repeated his party's intention to speed up the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process and end it.

National would strip references to the treaty from legislation but also "look at" a shake up of the five Maori Government agencies.

Speaking in Whangarei this afternoon Dr Brash continued to push his one-law-for-all policy.

"No other group within our population is so governed and regulated as Maori. There are no less than five government agencies specifically set up to deal exclusively with Maori or with Maori issues," Dr Brash said in speech notes.

The agencies were Te Puni Kokiri (Maori affairs), Te Mangai Paho (Maori broadcasting), the Maori Land Court, the Waitangi Tribunal, and the Office of Treaty Settlements.

"In our first term of government, we will be looking very closely at each of these agencies."

National would look at what the agencies did and what changes were needed to ensure Treaty grievances were ended.

The party has pledged to resolve all historical treaty claims which must be lodged by the end of next year and settled by 2010.  It meant both the Waitangi Tribunal and Office of Treaty Settlements could be wound up then.

Dr Brash said there was duplication in some areas between NZ on Air and Te Mangai Paho.

There was duplication of a "large number of functions" by TPK and other agencies.

"Our goal in the medium term has to be to provide all services to New Zealanders through agencies that are not ethnically based," Dr Brash said.

"We will not be rushing that process but we will be moving down that path."

Dr Brash said he stood by his Orewa speech last year.

"We are one country with many peoples, not two peoples living in some sort of partnership," he said.

"We have put up for far too long with a treaty process that is undermining the essential notion in our democratic society of one rule for all in a single nation state."

Dr Brash said treaty principles in legislation were a source of divisiveness and had to go.

"National will remove them from legislation, Labour will leave them there to fester."

He said consulting with Maori was costly, slowed down projects and was not representative as many Maori lived in urban areas and had little tribal link.

Dr Brash said letting the treaty settlement process drag on was poisoning the relationship between Maori and other New Zealanders with the former group being dependant and the latter feeling they were missing out.

National would make part-time Waitangi Tribunal positions full-time and increase the capacity of the Office of Treaty Settlements to get the work done faster.

"Suitable people" would be appointed direct negotiators with claimant groups.

- NZPA

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