Friday, March 10, 2006

Crude race-baiting

It looks like National is back to its tactic of crude race-baiting, with its call to stop the "ethnic plunder" of the coastline. Apparently, a disproportionate number of Maori and Asians were prosecuted last year for fisheries offences. And a disproportionate number of Pakeha were prosecuted for serious fraud - but I don't see National screaming about the "ethnic plunder" of our businesses and bank accounts.

In their quest to bash Maori, National has also missed the real story: the decline in the number of prosecutions. According to the more detailed figures in the Herald, illegal fishing prosecutions have consistently dropped over the last three years, from 642 in 2003 to barely half that last year. It might be interesting to ask why that has happened - whether it is because offending is decreasing, because offences are being dealt with by infringement notices rather than prosecutions, or because fisheries inspectors are failing to do their job properly. But the decline hasn't been reflected in the number of prosecutions of those identified as Maori - is this because Maori are suddenly committing twice as many crimes as they were three years ago, because of differential enforcement, or better detection and intelligence in the Maori community? But rather than asking those sorts of questions, the answers to which are likely to be both interesting and useful in shaping future policy, National would rather focus on the colour of people's skin. Talk about a "skin deep" analysis...


I'm not sure quite what the problem is with National pointing out the ethnic break-down of this type of offence. These statistcs are collected persmuably to enable us to see such patterns. Are you suggesting we shouldn't be collecting data based on ethnicty?

If National was on the basis of this information advocating something untoward then maybe there would be a case for the allegation of "race-bating" but what they are advocating is more fisheries officers to inform communities and inforce the law. Hardly controversial.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/10/2006 11:24:00 AM


The problem occurs only if National does not do it consistently, or if there is a consistent pattern of one-sidedness.

If they were to talk about all the ethnic breakdowns of criminal offences, highlighting those where Pakeha are disproportionately represented as clearly as those where Maori (or other groups) are, then it would be fine.

If they were to identify all the contexts in which Maori are disproportionately represented across society, casting as much light on disadvantage as criminality, then also it would be fine.

If they pick and choose which numbers to highlight, then it makes perfect sense to discuss the pattern of their choices.

Posted by Anita : 3/10/2006 02:25:00 PM

there is a problem regardless of whether they are consistant.
Being consistantly divisive and unproductive is still a problem !

Either the national party were doing a terrible job of trying to get Pita Sharples to teach them somthing or they are just being divisive and unproductive.

Posted by Genius : 3/10/2006 06:45:00 PM