Here's Sharples's point, such as it is, from the Herald's account of his maiden speech in parliament:
It strikes me as somewhat amazing that half the country and probably half of this House actually believes that Maori are the privileged group within our society. Cries of racial funding, gravy train, special courses are constant within these walls and eagerly published by every arm of the media to promote a negative stereotype of Maori...See the error? He sees the problems he cites as self-evident proof that the Government isn't doing enough for Maori. Has he ever considered whether the very real problems are a sign the Government has been doing too much?
He asked whether "privilege" meant diabetes, heart disease, asthma, glue ear and dying 10 years earlier than Pakeha. Or is our real privilege to be revealed in this country's disgusting incarceration figures? While one in every 570 New Zealanders is in jail, for Maori the number is one in 180.
The signs of Maori 'privilege' are real, and are written right across the law books, and on welfare payouts and treaty cheques that trail a large number of zeroes. The 'privilege' is real -- racial funding, the gravy train, the special courses are all real; the question really is whether or not this has been a good thing. It is all to clear it hasn't been. Sharples litany of Maori problems is not evidence that the privilege doen't exist, they're evidence that the privilege has done many Maori no bloody good at all.
A point from an article posted here yesterday is worth repeating. To paraphrase a commenter on that thread, we need to rethink the role of the welfare state in forestalling the development of individual responsibility. That is what has caused the problems that beset Sharples's Maori -- it is not lack of favours, it is too many. Government efforts have come to replace individual effort; the result is too many individual failures.
I can't help thinking a policy of benign neglect would have been kinder.