Sunday, November 16, 2008

The other agreement

National has also released its confidence and supply agreement with the Maori Party [PDF]. Where their agreement with ACT was a coalition in all but name (even including a requirement for all ACT MPs to support policies the party had merely "participated" in developing - in other words, "we tell you about it, we outvote you, you support it"), the Maori Party is completely free to speak on other policy areas. They get a couple of minor policy concessions - no attempt to abolish the Maori seats, and a review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act (though one whose implied terms seem stilted towards National's preferred outcome of total dispossession) - but the real victory are two positions outside Cabinet (Maori Affairs and Community and Voluntary Sector) with

significant areas of responsibility within their portfolios, along with Associate Minister responsibilities, including service delivery, departmental support and funding
Those associate positions cover Health, Education, Social Development and Corrections, so if National lives up to its promise, there's potential for them to deliver real gains to Maori.

There's also an agreement to implement the recommendation of a 2007 report to provide greater electorate support to Maori MPs and those serving large electorates, which seems fair and reasonable.

On the down side, there's this odd little note:

Cabinet Manual

The Maori Party Ministers agree to be bound by the Cabinet Manual in the exercise of their ministerial functions, and in particular to be bound by the provisions of the Cabinet Manual on the conduct, public duty and personal interests of Ministers.

The ACT agreement didn't have such a clause, and neither I expect will peter Dunne's. Is it because they're brown?

It's a pretty good deal, especially given that National didn't need to sign it. The question now is whether National will live up to it - and whether it will deliver enough to Maori that they don't switch their support back to Labour in 2011.