Saturday, 31 May 2008

no maori MPs?

i was too tired to post yesterday, and only have a few bits and pieces to contribute today. first of all, i would also like to express my sadness that hon mark gosche is retiring from politics. he's a great guy and i'm sure could have contributed so much more had it not been for his personal circumstances. i wish him and his family all the best for the future.

second, why on earth is the business round table paying for a report into the viability of the maori seats? surprisingly enough, they've got exactly the answer they paid to get. i wonder why they didn't pay a maori academic to carry out the research, since maori will be the most affected by this. probably because then they wouldn't have gotten the "right" talking points.

the problem for the business roundtable is quite clear. voters in the maori seats are never going to vote for right wing parties. because they're smart enough to know that right-wing policies have lead to poor outcomes for their community in the past. the employment contracts act, the failure to raise minimum wages, the abolition of trades skills training, the slow and steady privatisation of the health system; all of these and many other policies hit the maori very hard, as they hit most people in on lower incomes.

by abolishing seats they can never win, the right has a greater chance of ruling the country. there is another alternative, of course. they could develop and implement policies that would appeal to voters in the maori seats. they could actually try to be competitive in those seats. in the last election, neither national, nz first nor act stood candidates in the maori seats. i bet united future didn't either. for national, there was hardly any point given the focus of the orewa speech by dr brash. if right-wing parties are going to target maori with dog-whistle politics, it means they aren't even trying to appeal to those voters.

it looked like things were going to be different under mr key, what with him taking that teenage maori girl to waitangi, and rubbing noses with tame iti. i haven't taken the trouble to have a good look, but i haven't seen any response from mr key on the BRT research. i'm very interested in hearing what he has to say about it all. it looks like no-one has bothered to ask him.

i know i'm very clear. the maori seats will go when maori are ready for them to go. with mr key making noises about a referendum on MMP, there is the danger that we may lose our proportional voting system in the next 10-12 years. without it, the maori party will find it almost impossible to win seats, and i don't believe a single current maori MP is there because they've won a general electorate seat. if the maori seats are lost and we go back to FPP, there is the real possibility of having no maori in parliament. how can that possibly be good for nz?

since the BRT obviously have money to spare for research, i'll make a sincere plea that they donate the funds to child cancer research, or that they put that money towards rebuilding homes in myanmar/burma or china. to waste it on a report like this, which is so clearly self-serving, seems almost criminal.

finally, i'd just like to pay a tribute to photo-journalist trent keegan who died in kenya this week. i reiterate the points i made in an earlier post, about the value of such journalists - those who do a vital job by exposing corruption, and put themselves at risk to do so. rest in peace mr keegan.


Poneke said...

voters in the maori seats are never going to vote for right wing parties.

Not seeking at all to detract from your article, just a clarification. New Zealand First won all the Maori seats at the 1996 general election. NZ First is very much an old-style, conservative right-wing party.

stargazer said...

ah, but aside from immigration, their policies are more left-wing than right eg increasing minimum wage, free doctors visits, no asset sales etc.

and you might recall that the rt hon mr peters had clearly promised to go into coalition with labour in that campaign, which was the basis on which maori voters cast their votes for nz first. that broken promise cost them dearly in 1999 (as well as the predictable meltdown with the shipley govt).

stargazer said...

oops, except for justice policy. on that, they're somewhere right of the act party.

and now that i think back, what mr peters actually said was that he would never go into a coalition with national.

Ben R said...

In terms of the Maori seats, you're right about there being a need for them with First past the post, but the Royal Commission found there was no need for them under MMP? It distorts the system & is anti-democractic.

Joseph's opinion (which I haven't read) presumably just confirms that?

stargazer said...

ben, you seem to have missed my point of this report coming out just weeks after key is proposing a referendum on MMP, which has the potential to return us to FPP. so lose the maori seats now; then lost list maori MPs when we go to FPP.

i don't believe they're anti-democratic at all. everybody, on whatever roll, gets two votes. an electorate vote and a party vote. until we're mature enough, as a nation, to elect maori candidates through general electorates in a proportion that somewhat matches their proportion of the total population, i don't think the maori seats should go. either that or we entrench MMP.

Ben R said...

"everybody, on whatever roll, gets two votes. an electorate vote and a party vote."

But with the separate Maori seats you can get an overhang (ie. more than 120 MP's). This means that a party could win more than 50% of the party vote and not have a majority. So it distorts the system, by giving more influence to one groups vote. That's not democratic.

"so lose the maori seats now; then lost list maori MPs when we go to FPP."

Sure, but the seats aren't going to be abolished before a referendum on MMP (if there ever is one).

I think the electorate is more "mature" than you give it credit for. Remember that Dunedin voted in an Indian woman, Sukhi Turner, as Mayor in the mid 90's, while Gisborne has an Asian mayor. Wairarapa had Georgina Beyer, Maori & transgender, as their electorate MP.

stargazer said...

absolute crap ben. any party can create an overhang. if act win 5 electorate seats and only 1% of the party vote, they'll create an overhang. do you actually think about what you're saying?

Ben R said...

"if act win 5 electorate seats and only 1% of the party vote, they'll create an overhang."

That's a fair point, but the scenario is more likely to occur through the Maori Party winning all the Maori seats.

I think another option would be to entrench MMP, and perhaps lower the 5% threshold for party MP's.