Keith Locke speech on Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) Bill , In Committee

KEITH LOCKE (Green): My colleague Hone Harawira and I have been talking in the media about the possibility of helping this Government, perhaps by going to Fiji on a little trip to talk in our own very humble way to the different political forces there about a transition to democracy. But I am having second thoughts now, because one of the people I would have to talk to, and I would have to handle it very gently, is a chap called Commodore Bainimarama.

I am a bit worried that if I went and talked to him now, the first thing he would do is to say: “Look, you have a fantastic Government over there. They have just provided me with the blueprint for exactly where I want to go.” That is the Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) Bill. He would then point out clause 13(1)(g)(v), where the body set up by the commodore—or, in our case, the equivalent of the commodore here, Mr Rodney Hide—can review any item on the agenda of any committee of a local body. The commodore would say that was fantastic, because that would mean that Fiji’s 3,200 military people can easily monitor the agenda items of all of those bodies and they could get put on the agenda items like having a picture of the commodore hanging in every public building in Fiji. That would be a great agenda item. In our case it would be a picture of Rodney Hide. I think the parallel is there.

The commodore would say that with Fiji’s big armed force—3,200 people armed with guns—they have taken over a country of 750,000 people. Rodney Hide, with only 3 point something percent of the vote, seems to be taking over all the local bodies of New Zealand. Then Commodore Bainimarama would point out clause 13(1)(e), where, under this bill, he and his appointed group have to provide the public with information only as they think fit. The commodore would say: “We could do that a bit more, although we are really doing that already. We are just starting up our own television station, and making sure the local papers have pages that we provide the copy for. The New Zealand Government could go down that track with its special committee as well. It might add a little bit to the $750 million debt per Aucklander, but there is a great democracy called China that could provide the money for this at a reasonable rate.”

My concern is that this bill is providing a blueprint that moves in slightly the wrong direction. One of the reasons I am worried about going to see Commodore Bainimarama is that he will say: “Look, you Greens might be a little bit into negotiations and democracy and all that sort of stuff. We want to go where the New Zealand Government is going. However, we are very worried about Sue Kedgley. I understand she is moving amendments that are going to strip away the sorts of powers that we see as a model for our rule in Fiji today.”

I think the good people of New Zealand are a bit worried about where we are going with this bill, and are very worried where Commodore Bainimarama is taking his people and the influence that might have on the Pacific. They will be very concerned, and, hopefully, will be ringing up National and ACT members tonight to say: “Please support Sue Kedgley’s amendments.

We do not want a Bainimarama-type Government for Auckland. It is interesting that in respect of Fiji’s constitution there are some good elements, possibly, to Commodore Bainimarama’s proposal, but he is trying to strip away any indigenous representation in that country. That has a few parallels with the Auckland local body approach, where all of the recommended seats for the tangata whenua are now being cancelled by this proposal. The Green Party has a whole pile of amendments.