National's Treaty Settlement policy is back to the past, before 2005 that is, with a promise to conclude settlements by 2014. If this was full and final then that might be a cause to celebrate, but it is just an aim.
It seeks to "Appoint independent settlement facilitators to chair negotiations, keep the process moving forward, and ensure both parties act in good faith." a small step forward, although you may wonder who represents taxpayers in all of this.
However what's most disconcerting is its faith in the Waitangi Tribunal. The Waitangi Tribunal is little better than a kangaroo court, but it wants to provide "more support" to it.
This is a nonsense, as former Waitangi Tribunal member - ex. Labour Cabinet Minister Dr. Michael Bassett might testify:
"the industry doesn’t want the Tribunal process ever to end. After 23 years, no decision has yet been made to close off new historical claims. The major parties dither. Labour wants the party vote of Maori; National isn’t sure they mightn’t need the Maori Party’s support after the coming election. Both major political parties know that what is happening is wrong, and that ordinary Maori in whose name the claims are made, aren’t getting a cracker out of the money being spent on lawyers, researchers and Tribunal staff."
Previously he wrote "Existing claims must be settled as quickly as possible. Stopping fresh historical claims means that full and final settlements already made have a chance of working longer term. The Waitangi process was never intended as a permanent career for lawyers and under-employed “researchers”. It was to assist ordinary Maori whose interests, sadly, are too often over-looked."
National could do worse than listen to a man intimately involved in this process for years, but no - it wants power - it wants to broker a deal with the Maori Party to break Labour's stranglehold on the Maori vote - it will do that by continuing to feed the new Maori state funded aristocracy. National may not do a deal with NZ First (largely because it expects the party to disappear), but it will do one with the Maori Party.
I'll leave the final verdict on that to Dr Bassett:
"When politicians settled on land grievances as the cause of Maori problems they made a mistake. It would have made better sense to examine welfare and the huge damage it has done to Maori society. The Waitangi Tribunal should be scaled down. The industry is of no use to 99% of the people it’s meant to serve. "
Sadly the Maori Party seems unlikely to agree.