Hone Harawira wins in Te Tai Tokerau, and I am celebrating

In a very low voter turnout, Hone Harawira has won the Te Tai Tokerau byelection.  Congratulations Hone!

Together, Mana & Greens have the ability to drag Labour over to supporting tino rangatiratanga and clawing back the devil takes hindmost neoliberal ideology that has driven both Labour and National for the last 25 years.

So let’s work together for that end, and to restore kaitiatitanga over our most precious and treasured lands and waterways.

And maybe the disastrous polling for the Maori Party (less than 10% of the vote) may give them cause to reassess their alliance with the Party that is the class enemy of most New Zealanders, be they Tangata Whenua or Tangata Tiriti.

Kia ora, Hone! Kia kaha, e hoa ma.

Goff – Down with Don in the sewer

Don Brash, 27 January 2004:

Is it to be a modern democratic society, embodying the essential notion of one rule for all in a single nation state?

Or is it the racially divided nation, with two sets of laws, and two standards of citizenship, that the present Labour Government is moving us steadily towards?

Phil Goff, 26 November 2009:

We can choose our future based on principle and with the interests of all New Zealanders at heart.

Or we can have a country where one New Zealander is turned against another, Maori against Pakeha, in a way that Labour strongly rejects.

And both speeches were entitled “Nationhood”.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m as angry as anyone about the Maori Party’s sellout in supporting watering down the ETS to something that will be completely ineffective.

Goff was right to attack them on that (even though Labour’s ETS would itself have been been only minimally effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions).

But he didn’t stop there – he’s crawled down into the sewer with Brash by dog-whistling the racist underbelly of society. Disgusting!

Hypocrisy and duplicity – The tale of the two Māori Parties

I’ve always (until now) been a defender of the Māori Party, which is understandable because they have more often than any other political party voted the same way as the Greens in Parliament.

But no more! The position they have taken on National’s Emissions Trading Scheme proposal is nothing short of rank hypocrisy and duplicity. Just compare what they said in their Minority Report [PDF, pages 113, 114] in the Emissions Trading Scheme Review Select Committee report with what they have actually signed up to.

What they said:

At a fundamental level, there was opposition to an ETS which allows sectors to pollute and trade up to the Kyoto target, but which does not include incremental emission reduction targets in its design. With the emphasis on trading—establishing and maintaining the conditions for it— the overarching problem of unsustainable economic growth remains unaddressed. More specifically, we opposed the bill because of its relative ineffectiveness and inequalities, including the subsidisation of the nation’s largest polluters at the cost of households and small-medium businesses.

What they did:

Agreed to subsidisation of the nation’s largest polluters to the extent of $1200m annually until 2015, and $800m annually to agriculture thereafter.

What they said:

The Māori Party continues to oppose the introduction of an ETS on these grounds, and would do so more strongly if a replacement scheme were to be less effective and more inequitable.

What they did:

Agreed to an Emissions Trading scheme that is less effective and more inequitable.

What they said:

We also remain deeply concerned about protections in the form of intensity-based allocations and subsidies, which again distort the market model by allowing protected businesses to increase their emissions without penalty, and to be rewarded for it.

What they did:

Agreed to precisely that which they were “deeply concerned” about.

What they said:

For this reason the Māori Party continues to support the introduction of a carbon tax regime as the best mechanism to introduce a price on carbon. A carbon tax is a simpler regime, which provides certainty on price, and as the report notes, it is more stringent than an ETS when set at a sufficiently high rate, and applied to all sectors—incentivising polluters to change without the option of trading their way out and continuing with business-as-usual.

What they did:

Agreed to a weak and ineffective ETS.

What they said:

The Māori Party strongly believes that more needs to be done. Instead of relying on carbon sinks from forestry or buying credits on the international market to achieve our targets, we need to be focused on decreasing domestic emissions. A commitment to prioritise emission reduction will best serve the climate system and protect New Zealand businesses and taxpayers from market uncertainties.

What they did:

Agreed to an ETS that does precisely that, and is unlikely to reduce emissions at all, let alone to even National’s timid 20% or less target.

Hard to see how it would ever happen again

While like the rest of the Green Party, I wished the Maori Party the best of luck with their decision to support a National-led government, it probably wouldn’t have been what I would have chosen to do in their place. I have no desire to play a game of “I told you so”, but what I am wondering is this: How exactly does National think it will ever get the Maori Party on side for a future agreement on confidence and supply if it sides with gormless idiots like Rodney Hide on “a matter of principle” like denying an under-represented community their right to be represented how they choose? It’s not as if anyone is calling for Maori to have a more effective vote- (rather, to be able to sign up for voting for candidates that represent them more directly, if they so choose) any ward seats designed to service the Maori community would presumably represent a similar population to other wards. You could perhaps argue that this might set back race relations in the long run by segregating politics, but even that argument ignores the fact that we’re still in a place where Maori politics gets squashed whenever it does not have special seats set aside to enable its development. And the final argument? We shouldn’t do it for Auckland unless we do it everywhere? Fine, let’s be consistent and do it everywhere. That’s not an argument against the prospect at all. (This argument has also been run on protecting assets from privatisation, and is just as wishy-washy there.)

What exactly have National actually given the Maori Party in return for their incredibly patient support of a government that doesn’t seem ideologically inclined to work with them? The most significant thing is obviously the foreshore and seabed review, but that hasn’t exactly paid off yet. Apart from that, there’s really only the opportunity to fly a flag on the harbour bridge. There are business interests funding National that have got better treatment since the election than this coalition partner has.

If National really wants a second term, it would do the right thing for the country and actually start engaging with the Maori Party. It’s not likely that Act is going to represent a significant bloc next term given that they’re polling below the margin of error, so the “redneck vote” that views the idea of Maori deciding to represent themselves as abhorrent will have nowhere else to go. And even if Act do represent a significant bloc next election, can you imagine them withdrawing support from National over local body Maori seats when they support entrenching the parliamentary ones? This whole “debate” is frankly bizarre and doesn’t even have a leg to stand on. Even those Pakeha members of the public who cared enough to submit about Auckland’s supercity generally endorsed the idea of Maori seats. It’s really hard to see who exactly National is siding with if it’s not worried about the precedent of favouring the Maori Party over Act.

What’s missing from ACT’s agreement with National?

I’ve just beeen having a look at the three respective confidence and suppply agreements that National has signed with the Maori Party, United Future and ACT.

The Maori Party and United Future ones have a clause that reads (in the Maori Party case):

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.

However, the agreement with ACT states:

ACT agrees that its leader and any Minister or Associate Minister shall fully represent the government’s position and be bound by Cabinet Manual provisions in respect of any areas within their portfolio responsibilities and to support all areas that are matters of confidence and supply.

Now, I don’t know if I’m reading too much into this, but it puzzles me why ACT would not want the bit about “… be bound by the provisions of the Cabinet Manual on the conduct, public duty and personal interests of Ministers” in their agreement; and why National would not insist that it be in it.

Is it because Heather Roy wants to continue moonlighting as a territorial soldier while being Associate Minister of Defence? Or does Rodney Hide want to stand for Mayor of Auckland City while restructuring it as Minister of Local Government?

Or are there even more sinister reasons why ACT Ministers will not be bound by the Cabinet Manual in respect of conduct, public duty and personal interests of Ministers?