Chris Trotter opines on Phil Goff’s “Nationhood” speech:
To these New Zealanders he was saying: “It’s okay, you and I think alike on this. I’m not going to brand you a racist because, like me, you were offended by Hone Harawira’s obscenities; or because you were repelled by the dirty dealing between National and the Maori Party over the ETS legislation.”
Well, I too was offended by Hone Harawira’s obscenities – although no more than I was by Trevor Mallard calling Chris Finlayson “Tinkerbell” in Parliament – , and I’m certainly repelled by the dirty dealing between National and the Maori Party over the ETS legislation.
If Goff had confined himself to that, he would have been, to use Trotter’s words, “taking the first, and absolutely necessary steps towards Labour’s rehabilitation – and re-election”.
But he didn’t confine himself to that. Goff found in necessary to dog-whistle to racism by regurgitating a thinly disguised version-lite of Don Brash’s “Nationhood” speech. Even worse, he defended the status quo on the foreshore and seabed.
The Foreshore and Seabed Act is racist legislation. It nationalised without compensation all foreshore and seabed for which the Court of Appeal found iwi or hapu had the right to make claim to customary title before the courts had even had the chance to consider one single such claim. But it didn’t nationalise any of the over 12,000 parcels of foreshore and seabed in private fee simple ownership. It deprived one specific group of New Zealanders of their right to have their claim to property rights determined by the Courts. The fact that the group of New Zealanders so deprived were defined by race makes the legislation racist – pure and simple.
As recently as July we looked to be finally working towards a political consensus on the foreshore and seabed, with Labour Shadow Attorney General David Parker stating:
National’s change of heart has established an opportunity to revisit the Act, which we support. John Key said in April that our submission indicated ‘there could well be agreement between the three of us, National, Labour and the Maori Party, (in) which case you’ll get a much better solution and one that’ll achieve what we want…’ ”.
We hope this remains the case. Changes which need to be made include restoring the ability for iwi and hapu to gain a customary title to the foreshore and seabed.”
But now we have Goff’s shameful backtrack to again supporting that racist legislation:
But for all the criticism I have heard, most people accept that the current foreshore and seabed rules aren’t broken and they’re a good foundation for moving forward. They believe its good legislation for all New Zealanders.
It’s hard to see why the country should be put through all the grief just to put a new brand on law that’s working.
Trotter is right to remind us that a class analysis is required, and that Goff needs to return Labour to its egalitarian, socialist roots. He needs to also recall that the Labour Party has some racist roots, exemplified by things like the Foreshore and Seabed Act and the lower rate of unemployment benefit for Maori that persisted through to the 1950s. Trotter is wrong to assert that it is all about class and not at all about race.
The people who waged the wars and made the laws that alienated 63 million acres of Maori land and nationalised the foreshore and seabed without compensation were not just les mofos riches – they were also les mofos blancs.