Monday, July 21, 2014

Conservative Manifesto flaw

Conservative Party hoarding, Western Park, Ponsonby, July 2014.

This post is part of the 100 Days Project
Day 11
I was at my sister's house the other day when, with a horrifed expression rising, she asked if I'd been targeted to receive Conservative Party messaging.   Her air of disgust had more reasonance after I read the leaflet she was referring to.  It wasn't so much that I disagreed with almost every piece of policy - it was more the way it revealed a profound ignorance of New Zealand's system of government and its constitution.
Case in point:
"The fact that in this day and age Maori are treated as 2nd class citizens and victims drives us nuts.  Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same old thing over and over, but expecting a different result.  Try something new.  We stand for equal rights and representation for all New Zealanders, plain and simple.  Nothing loony about that."
1) Maori occupy a specific place in New Zealand society but as their position as 'second-class citizens' and 'victims' derives directly from colonisation which obviously began well before the 1867 Native Schools Act and establishment of the Maori electorates which are being obliquely referred to above.  If Maori lost proportional representation and opened the door to language loss that year, they lost far more in the subsequent illegal annexation of land by the New Zealand government.  The government which couldn't constitutionally exist without the Treaty, signed in 1840 - well before 1867. 
3) Via the Waitangi Tribunal, the New Zealand government has repatriated and will repatriate about 1% of the resources taken from each hapu.  The process is indeed flawed, but stopping it before it reaches a natural conclusion is unfair to hapu who are still waiting for their compensation.  It will also make no material difference to the resources available to the rest of New Zealand.  And, given that the rest of the country is about 90% composed of land stolen from its original owners, frankly the suggestion to quit the process is just a bit morally repugnant.
5) Maori have been very under-represented in parliament since the establishment of the Maori electorates.  Indeed these were originally intended to limit Maori representation.  However every non-male, non-white group in society is under-represented in the parliamentry system and this is generally considered to be a problem.  Abolishing the Maori electorates is not going to suddenly produce true proportional representation - for any group.  And since Maori can't vote on both rolls, and since tau iwi and Maori can stand in any electorate, general or Maori, there's no procedural problem with the Maori electorates currently.
The policy referred to in this post is what political pundits call a 'dog-whistle'.  In other words it is supposed to mean little to 'ordinary New Zealanders', whoever they are, but act as a rallying call to hard right voters.
I'm not sure if it's craven cynicism or if Colin Craig actually believes what he's saying.  But either way, New Zealand's government is based on the Treaty, without which it could not constitutionally exist, and the Treaty enshrines the duality of governance in this country.  If you don't understand that then you shouldn't be in parliament.

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