Check out what is missing from climate reporting law – but Govt has ensured the Treaty plays a part in trade deal with UK

Latest from the Beehive

Press statements and ministerial speeches were flowing into Point of Order’s email in-tray faster than the government’s publicists could post them on the Beehive website this morning. 

The outpouring included news that the parts of Waikato in Alert Level 3 will remain at that alert level till Wednesday.  

More significantly, the PM addressed the nation in Churchillian terms:

 Today I’m speaking directly to all New Zealanders to share a plan that will help us stay safe from COVID-19 into the future.

 A future where we want to continue to protect people’s lives, but also to live our lives – as safely as possible.

This speech was accompanied by other ministerial speeches and announcements dealing with something the PM described as 

 “… the new framework we will use to help us minimise the impact of COVID, and protect ourselves”.

It included an economic support package (especially for supporting Auckland businesses) and a plan (with more money) to accelerate Māori vaccination rates.

Inevitably this did not satisfy the government’s political opponents.

Act leader David Seymour said his party had hoped the Government would admit its errors and give a clear way forward based on building resilience against endemic COVID.

 “That has been half delivered with a very complicated version of what ACT calls Freedom Day.

 “The net result is that restrictions will end near to December 1, but when exactly will be decided by laggards. Freedom Day puts the responsibility on the person making the decision to get vaccinated. Labour’s plan means your freedom depends on the laziest person in your community.

 “The Government’s approach means it clings to power and keeps people guessing. Every DHB reaching 90 per cent is not a realistic target, so the Government will have to intervene. The most significant announcement is it will make another big announcement on November 29th.”   

National’s critique (here) is headed Labour Cancels Christmas With Incoherent Plan.

But Point of Order figured the mainstream media will be keeping readers up with the play on those matters.  Hence we focused on an announcement from Climate Change Minister James Shaw and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark under the headline NZ passes world-first climate reporting legislation.

The Ministers said New Zealand has become the first country in the world to pass a law that will ensure financial organisations disclose and ultimately act on climate-related risks and opportunities. 

We are apt to wonder about whether any law can ensure anything, but the objective (at first blush) seems worthy.   

The Financial Sector (Climate-related Disclosures and Other Matters) Amendment Bill – which has passed its third reading – will require around 200 of the largest financial market participants in New Zealand to disclose clear, comparable and consistent information about the risks, and opportunities, climate change presents to their business.

 “In doing so, it will promote business certainty, raise expectations, accelerate progress and create a level playing field,” David Clark said.

James Shaw said the legislation was one of several actions the Government is taking to meet its international obligations and achieve the 2050 emissions targets required by the Climate Change Response Act 2002.

A notable feature is that this legislation seems to have bypassed Labour’s highly influential Māori caucus.  Point of Order found no mention of the Treaty, nor of Māori.  

On the other hand, our trade negotiators kept the Treaty in mind while dealing with their British counterparts on the UK-NZ free trade agreement.  

According to the announcement from the PM and Trade Minister Damien O’Connor, the deal struck in principle features:

  • A boost of almost $1 billion to New Zealand GDP, unprecedented access for New Zealand exporters to the UK market
  • UK to eliminate all tariffs on New Zealand exports, with over 97% being removed the day the FTA comes into force
  • NZ exporters to save about $37.8 million per year on tariff elimination alone
  • Elimination of tariffs on all honey, wine, kiwifruit, onions, a range of dairy and meat products, and most industrial products
  • Significant increases for beef and sheep meat market access
  • Working Holiday arrangements to be improved and extended

We imagine nothing in the deal is intended to be discriminatory and anybody in this country who trades with Britain should be able to benefit from the liberalisation of the rules.

But according to the ministerial press statement, there is a special provision for some citizens:

 The agreement also recognises the unique and historical relationship that exists between Māori and the British Crown which is reflected through an indigenous chapter creating a platform for cooperation on a range of issues important to Māori. New Zealand is the only country globally to successfully include such a chapter in two Free Trade Agreements.

The full text of the ‘Agreement in Principle’ – available at www.mfat.govt.nz/nz-uk-aip – makes special mention of Maori on other matters.    

The chapter on intellectual property says:

 Reflecting their importance to New Zealand, including Māori, the chapter will include provisions on genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional culture expression that: recognise the relevance of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources to IP systems; provide for consideration of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources in patent examination processes; commit both countries to working together to promote multilateral outcomes on these issues at the World Intellectual Property Office InterGovernmental Committee (WIPO IGC); and provide for review of these provisions in the FTA (including within 2 years of entry into force if no international instrument has been adopted at WIPO).

Then there’s the chapter on the environment which brings the spiritual beliefs of a minority of our population into considerations:

 New Zealand and the UK commit to an ambitious chapter that will support both governments’ trade and environment agendas and responses to the urgent threat of climate change. Acknowledging the special relationship of Māori with the environment in New Zealand, the chapter will include Māori concepts such as kaitiakitanga, mauri, and whakapapa.

  The environment chapter (among other things) affirms commitments to implement Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), and to promote trade and investment in environmental goods and services which support the transition to a low carbon economy, and cooperation on carbon markets and pricing. This will include the most comprehensive list of environmental goods agreed to date, with tariff elimination at entry into force of the FTA for these environmentally beneficial product.

It will also …

 Acknowledge Māori perspectives on sustainability and the importance of the environment to Māori.

Another chapter deals with commitments on cooperative activities that aim to enhance the ability of women to benefit from the FTA and address barriers for women in trade, such as lack of access to markets, business and leadership networks, and finance.

 Future cooperation may focus on promoting financial inclusion, building trade-related capacity and enhancing skills of women at work, in business and at senior levels, fostering women’s entrepreneurship, and supporting economic opportunities for diverse groups of women in trade and investment, including wahine Māori.

The curious implication is that – without this mention – Maori women would be excluded from benefitting from those commitments.  Really?

Then the trade agreement acknowledges the Treaty of Waitangi as a foundational document of constitutional importance to New Zealand,

“… and recognising the significant interest among Māori in the FTA, New Zealand and the UK have committed to develop an indigenous trade chapter that will include:

      • Recognising the value of Māori leadership and economy, Mātauranga Māori and the Te Ao Māori world view.
      • Providing for cooperation as appropriate between New Zealand, including Māori, and the UK in a way that promotes Māori participation in the agreement, including the trade and investment opportunities that will arise from the FTA.
      • A commitment by the UK to cooperate with New Zealand to identify appropriate ways to advance recognition and protection of the Haka Ka Mate. Separately, a side letter will also acknowledge Ngāti Toa Rangatira’s guardianship of the Haka Ka Mate.
      • Reference to relevant international instruments.

The agreement recognises the need to protect the right of governments to regulate in the public interest and includes specific exceptions and general exceptions.

The general exceptions will allow New Zealand and the UK to protect their respective health services and there’s a Treaty of Waitangi exception,

 “… which will protect the New Zealand government’s ability to adopt policies it considers necessary to fulfil its obligations to Māori, including under the Treaty of Waitangi.”

Here at Point of Order, we wondered which people in Britain might complain they have been overlooked in the recognition of indigenous rights.  

It seems we weren’t the first to wonder who are that country’s indigenous people. 

An article in The Guardian addressed the question several years ago under the heading There is no such thing as an ‘indigenous’ Briton:

 The problem here is with defining the term “indigenous”. The dictionary definitions are of little help. After all, most people were born in the country in which they live and thus surely “originate” there; on the other hand, go back far enough in history and no group outside Olduvai, in eastern Africa, can lay claim to being truly “native”.

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3 thoughts on “Check out what is missing from climate reporting law – but Govt has ensured the Treaty plays a part in trade deal with UK

  1. Ardern’s continual communist rhetoric has become vomit inducing even to many of her once stupid followers.
    She is now supported only by those that read NZME/Stuff publications or watch Tv1 and Tv3 news . . . they are rapidly diminishing.

    Like

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