Post mortem #4: Maori Party, National, and the Treaty
Current National and Maori Party coalition negotiations raise two interesting issues. One is fairly self-evident. The other is something I’ve just noticed in the above image of Pita Sharples anf John Key…
“Mr Key said there was no reason why partial asset sales would need to be treated as a matter of confidence and supply.” Source
The sale of state assets is usually a budgetary matter. As I’ve written previously, past asset sales were generally included as part of bugetary legislation and passed by the government-of-the-day using it’s majority in the House.
The Opposition – whether one party as under FPP, or several parties under MMP – would automatically vote against the government’s budget. If the budget passed, the government had Supply (money to pay for ongoing state activities, such as paying salaries; building infra-structure; making purchases; paying for borrowings; etc).
If the budget was voted down – the government fell.
At present, John Key’s coalition-government consists of 62 seats out of 121 (there is an “over-hang of one seat),
Those 62 seats comprise,
John Banks/ACT: 1
Peter Dunne/United Future: 1
62 out of 121 is a majority – just barely. Lose one seat – in a by-election or a defection – and the majority is cut down to one. Lose two seats, and Key’s majority is lost, and becomes a minority government.
No wonder John Key spat the dummy a couple of days ago and called MMP a “weird system”.
Which is why the Maori Party’s the seats becomes vital to the longer-term survival of this new, National-led coalition government. Last term there were four by-elections. There is no guarantee that there won’t be one or two or more this time around.
Key needs the Maori Party as political “insurance”.
The only way that the Maori Party can be placated regarding asset sales is that the issue is removed from the main body of the upcoming Budget, and presented to the House as separate legislation. The Maori Party may then vote with the National-led coalition to ensure Supply, and the business of government carries on.
When the issue of asset sales is presented to the House as separate legislation, the Maori Party will no doubt vote with the Opposition, as Sharples and Turia promised their constituents during the election campaign, and try to vote down the Bill.
No doubt the Bill will proceed through the House, as John Key utilises his two seat majority early on, to guarantee it’s passage.
Once the Bill is enacted and becomes law, the asset sale can proceed unhindered.
At the same time, the National-ACT-Dunne-Maori Party coalition is embedded. There is face-saving all around.
When I looked at the image above, of John Key and Pita Sharples meeting and greeting each other as equals, the scene reminded me of a photo taken in the early 1970s, of then-Prime Minister, Norman Kirk. I found the image using trusty Google.
Let’s compare the two,
My, how we’ve matured as a society since the early 1970s.
The symbolism of those two images shows – to me – how the New Zealand social and political meme has been re-defined in only 40 years.
When Norman Kirk led the young Maori boy across the grounds of Waitangi, the image was one of the Pakeha culture as the dominanant patron of this country, leading the “maori child” walking together, hand in hand. It was the archetypal British Colonial “father-figure”, taking in-hand the “childlike” indigenous people.
In the right hand image, the Maori male is an adult Pita Sharples, meeting John Key on a level playing-field. They are meeting as true Treaty partners.
Despite what one may think of National; their policies; and the Maori Party supporting this government – I find something positive in the right-hand image. I think it bodes well for our future and demonstrates that pakeha fears over the Treaty is without foundation.
We’ve come a long way. The journey is yet to end, if ever.