Smart move for National…or is it?

Nick Smith is going to put up a private members bill to further the creation of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

National MP Dr Nick Smith has lodged a member’s bill to establish a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary which could pass into law with the support of the Green Party, if the bill is drawn from the ballot.

But the Nelson MP insists his motivations are conservation, not to drive a wedge among Government support partners over the issue.

NZ First has opposed a sanctuary that curtails Maori fishing rights, but the Greens have said that environmental values outweighed fishing interests.

Smith’s bill would ban mining and fishing in the sanctuary and, if drawn, could pass with the support or even just the abstention of the Greens.

A sanctuary was the subject of a Green Party member’s bill and a Government bill under the previous Government, but it was put on ice to try to resolve objections and a legal challenge by Te Ohu Kaimoana, the Maori Fisheries Commission.

A solution to a sanctuary issue is included in Labour-NZ First agreement as well as the Labour-Greens one, but this morning NZ First MP Shane Jones said the parties were no closer to a solution.

“I haven’t spoken to [the Greens] formally, but I think it’s fair to say our friends in the Green Party, they’re aware of the NZ First position,” Jones told TVNZ’s?Q+A?programme.

“It’s a challenge for iwi themselves to come up with a pragmatic solution. But in the absence of a pragmatic solution that has us as NZ First agreeing to it, there will be no Kermadec Sanctuary.”

Green co-leader James Shaw has previously said his party’s support on a National MP’s member’s bill would depend on the nature of the bill.

Smith said he lodged his 40-page bill on Friday, and it was similar to the stalled Government bill. It would protect the 620,000sq km surrounding the Kermadec Islands in a “no mining, no fishing” sanctuary.

“I have indicated to the Greens National’s intent to introduce a member’s bill. With their eight votes and National’s 56, there’s a clear parliamentary majority for the sanctuary to proceed.

“They’ve always consistently supported the sanctuary and I’m confident of their support for this bill.”

It’s smart politics to try and drive a wedge between Labour and the Green party. If the Greens are true to their cause they will find it hard to find a reason to not support the bill.

I suspect that James Shaw will weasel out of it by promising to try and do something within the government…and nothing will happen.

National thinks they can get this across the line, and then trumpet how they can work with the Greens. Bill English and Nick Smith are the key people pushing that agenda…in the mistaken belief they can ignore Winston Peters and focus on a potential arrangement with the Greens. In that respect the plan is silly.

Still, God loves a trier, and Nick Smith is certainly trying.


-NZ Herald