Saturday, April 29, 2006



The mother of all U-turns

In the 2005 election, National campaigned on an anti-Maori, anti-Treaty platform, promising to eliminate even the pallid rights Maori had gained over the foreshore and seabed, remove Treaty clauses from legislation, eliminate the Maori seats, and generally attempt to roll back the growing recognition and influence Maori have won for themselves over the past two decades. Now, they look set to make the mother of all U-turns, with Gerry Brownlee expected to urge National's Northern regional conference to reopen debate:

He is expected to urge National to debate its stance on the Treaty and the constitution, including the recommendations of the United Nations' Special Rapporteur Rodolfo Stavenhagen.

They include issues that National opposes, such as making Waitangi Tribunal findings binding, entrenching MMP and the Treaty, and using iwi and hapu to provide customary self governance.

The reason for this sudden reversal is simple: the Maori Party. Currently they effectively hold the balance of power in Parliament, and with the number of Maori seats expected to increase, that power looks likely to grow. Currently National's policies effectively rule out any cooperation - it is difficult to work together when your policies are diametrically opposed - so if National wants any hope of power at the next election, it needs to change. Its a great example of what Maori can achieve by standing up for themselves electorally - but it will be amusing to see how it goes down amongst National's redneck supporters.

From a left-wing perspective this is a welcome move - and not just because National's policies were unconscionable. It will also allow Labour to cease its stupid pandering to rednecks, and return to openly advocating the values it is supposed to adhere to.

15 comments:

I'm pretty sure National doesn't oppose the entrenching of MMP - If my memory serves it's already entrenched...

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 4/29/2006 06:12:00 PM

it is a pretty stunning turn-around. but i'm sure there's a catch.

any national policy will likely still contain assimlatory undertones, but wil appeal to maori national-party voters, of which there are a number.

i've always thought the strident anti-maori position at the last election was out of sorts with some aspects of the party that prefer a more rational assimilation.

by this i mean the sorts of national supporters who aren't specifically anti-maori, but are anti-"separatism". meaning that they like maori who aren't too different from mainstream nzlers, and dislike anyone who talks about sovereignty or distinct/separate rights.

Posted by che tibby : 4/30/2006 09:53:00 AM

and strangely, the NZHerald put this article on line this morning:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10379543

which almost contradicts the DomPost Article?

Posted by che tibby : 4/30/2006 10:07:00 AM

wow. it's like post-o-rama from che today.

read brownlee's speech and a couple of phrases spring to mind.

"straw man" and "bullshit".

no wonder they can't get elected.

Posted by che tibby : 4/30/2006 09:19:00 PM

Brownlee's speech struck me as light-weight/superficial and dull. Brownlee's not the sharpest tool in a shed with few cutting edges. (That's why they can't get elected!)

No obvious straw men or bullshit or U-turns that I could see though. On the other hand, if you think that having one public law and a race-blind constitution (except perhaps for the odd symbol or gesture) is "assimilatory" in any way that implies that assimilation is bad (or something that should end) then the odor of bullshit mixed with straw (not to mention both an exaggeration of the place of government in human lives and a conflation of constitutional issues with ordinary social policy initiatives) is unmistakable.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/30/2006 10:23:00 PM

the straw man was the rudolfo stuff. he refers to stavenhagen, then kind of plucks a number of his recomendations and says,"these are things the maori party might run with".

of course, we don't know that they are such things, but the rest of the speech is hinged on them. he then doesn't say, we might be partners with the maori party (which the dompost article suggests), but says that national will need to figure out how to handle these (fictional) maori party platforms.

the tone though is "how do we close down the maori party [who might be standing on this fictional platform]".

strawman.

and, our constitution is race-blind and we only have one public law. claims to the contrary are alarmist bullshit.

Posted by che tibby : 5/01/2006 07:35:00 AM

I dont trust a word of it.

he's not called "basher brownlee" for nothing.

Also this is from the party who's leader believes in the "moral obligation to lie"

Fraser

Posted by Anonymous : 5/01/2006 10:27:00 AM

Tibby's straw man detector is clearly malfunctioning.... the chorus of hossanahs from Peta Sharples et al. after the Stavenhagen report to the effect that "that's what we've been saying" and "that's what we're demanding" indicates that Borwnlee's point are very fair reading of Maori Party goals and platforms...

I agree that we have basically a race-blind constitution. If you interpret the Treaty as a partnership between maori and non-maori (a la the 1987 Appeals Court decision) and insist on either referring to it in legislation or fully lifting the treaty itself under such an interpretation into the law (whether entrenched or not) then that changes.

Core, correct National party proposals recognize this and remove the threat by removing the references and not doing the lifting. You can get the same effect less drastically by simply getting the right interpretation. Unfortunately with thinkers/opiners such as Tibby around that's impossible.

Brownlee's tone was a little abrasive - he's a dimwit and an inelegant "bullet point only thanks" speaker at best - but the core content that (i) the Maori Party have messed up MMP for the conceivable future and (ii) shrinking the House so that it becomes more of an electorate-based system overall amplifies that mess is correct. That content does not equate to "how do we close down the maori party". Can't argue with what you think about "tone", but insofar as you insinuate tone is "really" what's meant, you, Che Tibby have to that extent erected *another* stinky straw man. Stop it.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/01/2006 11:38:00 AM

anonymous (if that's your real name).

you make a number if mistakes. 1stly. pita sharples response to the UN report really appears to be opportunism. very little in the report appears to have any relevance to modern new zealand treaty politics. consequently, arguments in this vein are bound to be knocked back by parliament.

for example, entrenching the treaty in the constitution. this has been tried before and the main opponents were.... you guessed it, maori.

virtually all of the points brownlee forwards are simply irrelevant, and will not generate serious debate in the house.

this implies that brownless is not engaging with real issues.

what he is doing is encouraging the national party to devise counter-arguments to these issues, should the need for them arise. the object is not therefore to engage with the maori party, which is what the original dompost article suggested, but to counter them.

and why do i think this? because the remainder of the national party's maori platform acts directly counter to the maori party, and distinct maori representation.

2ndly, the maori party has not stuffed up mmp. if the number of list MPs drops the chances of an overhang do increase. but more MPs doesn't endanger our political system. if anything it makes it a little easier to legislate. see NRTs other post on representation and the select committees.

maybe the better approach is to not limit the number of MPs?

and lastly, thanks for calling me a thinker. perhaps if there were more of me around, we wouldn't have numnuts trying to assimilate a vibrant culture like maori.

Posted by che tibby : 5/01/2006 12:21:00 PM

OK - so Sharples response to the Stav.report is opportunism and should be discounted. I assume then that Turia's press release on the Maori Party's web-site saying:

"'The report is absolutely crammed full of suggestions for areas we need to improve, including 22 specific recommendations' said Mrs Turia.

'I found the Rapporteur’s concluding comments particularly helpful and am extremely disappointed that the Race Relations Conciliator has chosen to reject the opportunity Professor Stavenhagen provided for further debate' said Mrs Turia."

must also then have nothing to do with what the Maori Party wants/thinks. How terribly unfair of Brownlee to just take the leaders of a party at their words.

And of course none of that activity could have anything to do with current NZ treaty law.... that must be why Mai Chen wrote at length in the _Herald_ back in march:

"There appears to be a growing consensus among Maori of the need to improve the constitutional status of the Treaty, as evidenced in submissions to the Constitutional Arrangements Committee by Maori groups, in a recent major hui designed to discuss the place of the Treaty held at Te Tii Marae in Waitangi in 2005, and in the Maori Party's policies."

Coming the raw prawn is so unbecoming.

The Dom-Post/U-turn idea seems way off but that's not Brownlee's problem (he doesn't need any additional problems).

Posted by Anonymous : 5/01/2006 02:58:00 PM

ouch. will consider one ass kicked re: maori party.

my constitutional information out of date.

will do a little more reading and get back to you.

although i'd still prefer to not be argued into the ground by an anonymous voice.

Posted by che tibby : 5/01/2006 04:30:00 PM

Graeme: MMP is not entrenched. s168, relating to the method of voting, is entrenched - but looking at it, all the sections relating to the party vote and MMP system could be repealed or altered without affecting it in any way (in the case of repeal, there would simply be ballots without party votes, meaning the method of voting would be governed by subsection (3) rather than subsection (1)).

At present, a government could unilaterally alter the electoral system so as to (e.g.) give us the execreable SM system (all the flaws of MMP, with none of the benefits), or repeal party votes entirely, leaving us with a 69-seat FPP house. This simply isn't good enough; the electoral system is too important to allow politicians to play with it like this (especially when there are still unreconstructed FPPists out there who want to return to the "good old days" where they could win a large majority while getting fewer votes than the main opposition party). Such changes should not be made without a referendum, and so we need the relevant sections entrenched ASAP.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/01/2006 07:38:00 PM

Anon: Gerry never explicitly says "we are going to have to reverse our policies", but it is implicit in his outlining of the political reality of the Maori Party's expected influence. It ought to be clear to the most brain-dead amongst the audiance that if National wants any hope of power, it is going to have to deal with the MP, and give some ground on some of those issues. Clearly they don't want to give too much, and Brownlee seems to favour a more formal constitution in order to prevent constitutional issues being settled by coalition negotiations - but that's still what he's saying. What's interesting is that Brash is denying it - which suggests that this is a trial balloon to see which way the membership wants to go, rather than any formal policy yet.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/01/2006 07:57:00 PM

I/S "All of the flaws of MMP with none of the benefits"

None of the benefits?

How about the broader cross-section of people - women, Maori, other ethnic minorities - who could serve in an SM Parliament, as contrasted with an FPP one; how about the ability of a party without strong local electoral support (say, the Greens) to ensure there is Parliamentary representation for their views, even though they are unlikely to win an electorate seat? How about the ability of some members to have concern for the whole country rather than parochial concerns in making decisions?
You don't think these are among MMP's benefits?

All of the flaws?

High likelihood of disproportionate power being held by a small party? Existence of overhang?

The only real difference of rour purposes between MMP and SM is each system's effect on proportionality. You don't really think proportionality is MMP's sole benefit, do you?

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 5/02/2006 10:13:00 AM

Graeme: I look at proportionality as a key benefit, and ensuring that governments could not rule absolutely without actual majority support (let alone the 1978 and 1981 cases of their not even having plurality support) was perhaps the driving factor in why we changed systems. The rest is good - but was also just cream compared to emasculating Parliament and ensuring that the overall result actually reflected the way people had voted.

There was at the time significant hostility to the idea of list MPs, and there still is. SM would give us that, without the benefit of overall proportionality. It's better than FPP, but a long way from a preferable outcome.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/02/2006 10:54:00 AM