Monday, May 27, 2024

What to say on the government's racist Māori wards bill

I've spent the afternoon working on my submission on the Local Government (Electoral Legislation and Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill - National's racist bill to eliminate Māori representation from local government. It's an important bill, and the timeframe for submissions is tight - only two days left! National is doing this specifically to limit public opposition on its racist legislation, and I urge everybody who opposes it to submit.

If you're wondering what to say, here's a few things I went with:

  • The bill breaches te Tiriti o Waitangi. You can read the Waitangi Tribunal report here, and there's a summary in their press release. As for what that means for Parliament, I take it as a given that the government should not breach te Tiriti, and if the Waitangi Tribunal tells them that a bill will, then that bill simply should not be passed (I take the same attitude towards bills that breach the BORA).
  • The bill's Regulatory Impact Statement makes it clear that the proposed changes are worse than the status quo in every way that they were assessed.
  • Question 3.1 of the bill's Departmental Disclosure Statement notes that it will breach our obligations under international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Again, this is something that we Just Shouldn't Do, and is likely to result in adverse comment during periodic reviews, which may in turn impact on our international reputation. As we have agreed to be subject to the individual complaints mechanisms for both instruments, there's also the possibility of complaints to the UN Human Rights Council and Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
  • The short submissions period for the bill is undemocratic and brings Parliament and our democracy into disrepute.
  • Māori wards ensure a Māori voice in local government, in the same way that the Māori seats do in Parliament. It is simply inappropriate to subject that voice to a Pākehā veto.

If you want more, has a full submission guide here.