Thursday, October 16, 2008

A question of trust

Labour has said this election is all about trust. And we have a perfect example of how in John Key's evasions over the Maori seats.

National has clear policy on the issue. Their electoral law policy [PDF] states that National will

Begin a constitutional process to abolish the Maori seats once all historic Treaty claims have been settled, which we anticipate will be in 2014.
Such a policy would be an obvious barrier to any post-election relationship with the Maori Party, so it wasn't surprising last month when Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples let slip that he had been given a private assurance from Key that National would dump the policy post election. Key denied it, and denied it again during Tuesday's debate, saying that there had been "no formal agreement" (a transparent semantic dodge). But Sharples has a witness who backs him up:
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples last night said National's deputy leader Bill English and the Maori Party chief of staff, Harry Walker, were present when National leader John Key agreed that the Maori seats would not be abolished without Maori consent.


Mr Walker said last night that Mr Key was clear in the meeting that National's position could be put on the back burner. He said the talks were part of relationship building talks the Maori Party had with both major parties and had been held in Dr Sharples' office at Parliament.

It's pretty obvious that Key is lying, saying one thing in public and a different thing in private. And its obvious why: like Don Brash, he's trying to pander to the redneck vote, but he is also likely to need the Maori Party's support if he wants to be Prime Minister. The obvious question, though, is that if he's lying here, where else is he doing it? Key has made promises to the public that he will not sell state assets or cut government services. We have no way of knowing that he's not making similar private deals with his rich mates which likewise contradict those public promises. All we have is his word - which we've just seen, is completely worthless.