Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Me too" and mendacity on Nats' Maori policy

Despite talk that National has formed an understanding with the Maori Party that will allow them to do a deal after the election should both have the votes (a deal putting National into government and Pita Sharples into the Maori Affairs ministry), National has just released a Maori Affairs policy suggesting either a few problems for the talked-about deal -- or a few problems with the honesty of National's policy commitments.

As Liberty Scott accurately characterises it, it is "me-too" all over again:

  • "Me too" on continuing to support (read - use your taxes to spend money on) Maori broadcasting, Kohanga Reo, racially-based housing, racially-based "professional development," racially-based health provision and the like," despite this "support" having led to what Scott describes as "appalling violence, abuse and intergenerational criminal underachievement of the underclass of predominantly Maori families, failing again and again, and worst of all breeding children in a climate of fear, abuse and neglect." National is for more of the same.
  • "Me too" on "recognising the Treaty of Waitangi as the founding document of New Zealand," despite it being too hastily written and lacking too much to bear the weight of such an accolade.
  • "Me too" on "more support" i.e., taxpayers money, for the kangaroo court that is the Waitangi Tribunal. (National's David Farrar says "I especially like the commitment to speeding up the Treaty settlements by shifting the office to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, having independent facilitators and greater resourcing for the Waitangi Tribunal."
  • "Me too" on their backsliding on the deadline by which the Waitangi Gravy Train will be brought to a halt, and nothing at all about the fullness or finality of settlements. Scott has more on both these points.
  • "Me too" on establishing "post-settlement governance entities that best meet [Maori's] multi-dimensional roles and responsibilities," which presumably includes even more veto powers for iwi under the Resource Management Act.
  • "Me too" on the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Yes, they do promise to "reform the Resource Management Act to facilitate growth and development in the aquaculture industry" -- and the prospect of giving some weight to property rights to achieve this is dangled -- and they do promise to abolish the Maori seats, but it's this last and their position on the Foreshore and Seabed Act that will, at least on paper, pose the greatest problem for any coalition with Hone and Pita and Tariana.

And a deal with National is on the cards. Since the notion of reducing state spending on racially based policies is alien to National's policy document, one has to wonder if, like the Treaty Settlement policy, it's primarily about keeping the Maori Party happy?

But what about the policies on the Maori Seats and the Foreshore & Seabed Act? Opposition to Labour's Foreshore and Seabed Act, which removed from Maori the right to go to court and prove in common law their ownership rights over foreshore and seabed, led directly to the formation of the Maori Party. As Hone Harawira said recently, why would they give support to the party that introduced what is the worst violation of Maori rights for one-hundred and fifty years? (On which he's correct, incidentally.)

Pita Sharples said after National's policy release that abolition of the Maori seats is for Maori to determine (not as long as it represents a racial gerrymander it isn't) and National's stated policy on foreshore and seabed is "problematic" for any coalition deal ... "but they expect to see changes."

Now, John Key refuses to either confirm or deny whether or not those specific, high-profile marquee policies, either of them, are negotiable, but yesterday morning on National Radio he explicitly refused to rule it out -- and we all know what that means in politics, don't we.

So this looks like talking out of both sides of the mouth, doesn't it. Promising something in public to the electorate that the electorate wants to hear, while in private promising the Maori Party precisely the opposite in order to keep them on side.

Which all suggests that National intends either to break their promise to the electorate by backtracking on one or both of these big ticket policy commitments, or to break an understanding with the Maori Party -- that they will go easy on abolishing the Maori seats, and work towards abolishing the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Which do you think is most likely? And what does this say about National's honesty?

UPDATE:  Pita Sharples confirms the analysis in an interview to air tonight on Alt TV.

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