Is pressure getting to Key?
It would be fair to say that National’s asset sale programme is highly unpopular with the majority of New Zealanders – and with a sizeable portion of National Party voters. In fact, it would be fair to say that those individuals and organisations in favour of asset sales would be a distinct minority.
John Key doggedly maintains that National has a “mandate” for the partial-privatisation of Solid Energy, Meridian, Genesis, Meridian, and a further sell-down of Air New Zealand.
Whilst it’s true that National’s 1,058,636 party votes trumped Labour’s 614,937 – National’s support is less than one quarter of the population of this country. And when votes for Labour, NZ First, the Greens, Mana, Maori Party, and the Conservative Party are added together – they outnumber the combined votes for National, ACT, and United Future.
The only reason that National-ACT-United Future have a current one-seat majority in Parliament is because the Conservative Party did not break the 5% threshold, nor win an Electorate seat.
ACT, but contrast, gained less than half the number of votes that the Conservative Party did – but because of the quirky Electorate Seat Threshold rule (which lets Parties enter Parliament despite not breaking the 5% threshold), still gained one seat.
For the second time in two elections, a small Party has won more votes than ACT – but ACT has slipped back into Parliament because of National-ACT manipulation of the Electorate Seat Threshold. The other Party failed to win seats because it failed to break the 5% threshold or win an Electorate.
The Electoral Commission is currently reviewing MMP and it is likely that they will recommend to Parliament that the Electorate Seat Threshold be eliminated, as it serves no logical, discernible purpose and undermines the proportionality of our electoral system.
National’s “mandate” is therefore as shonkey as some of John Key’s promises.
The Maori Party finds itself in the same invidious position that NZ First was in 1998, and the Alliance in 2001. Both Parties were ‘tested’ by unforeseen circumstances, and the subsequent political stresses and public pressures tore both Parties apart.
The Alliance was effectively destroyed, and NZ First split in two, and never recovered it’s electoral hey-day support of 13.35%.
The Maori Party finds itself in a similar Rock-vs-Hard Place situation, as it contemplates public pressure over it’s support for National – even as it’s leader, John Key, has trashed the Waitangi Tribunal by stating categorically that it is not bound by Tribunal decisions and may gnore it’s recommendationa.
It has always been known (except by low-information voters) that Waitangi Tribunal decisions are not binding on any government. But governments of both Left and Right have, up till now, had the common sense and common courtesy to reserve judgement until being handed Tribunal recommendations.
To pre-empt the Waitangi Tribunal by suggesting – as John Key did – that National may ignore any recommendation, is high-handed arrogance. And it is a slap in the face to Maori, who place a measure of faith in the British judicial system of fairness in justice.
After all, our justice system was introduced to this land, as was the concept of private ownership, and Maori have had to adapt to both concepts. This, they have done – and with far more success than generally Pakeha have adapted to Maori tikanga.
So for John Key to dismiss, out-of-hand, any decision from the Tribunal insults not just Maori, but our faith in systems of justice that apply to everyone in this country.
If Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples want to remain aligned with a political party, that is so derisory to the Waitangi Tribunal and normal concepts of fair play, then they risk being tarred by association.
This blogger concurs with those who call for the Maori Party to disassociate itself from National. For their own mana, and ultimate political survival, the Maori Party must ‘walk’. There is no possible long-term benefit to be gained by continuing to associate with, and support, John Key’s administration.
But there is a lot of damage to be gained by maintaining their association with National.
Small parties are highly vulnerable to voter backlash. The history of The Alliance Party, United Future, ACT, and NZ First should serve as a stark warning to Ms Turia and Mr Sharples.
It is time to walk, Ms Turia, Mr Sharples. For your own dignity, if nothing else.
For the first time since the 2011 election, John Key has admitted that the first partial-privatisation – that of Mighty River Power – may be delayed.
A combination of several protest marches; thousands of letters and emails sent to MPs and Ministers; letters-to-the-editors of newspapers; and ongoing public concerns have given John Key and his National cronies one, giant, non-stop, collective headache.
On a practical level, Dear Leader seemed to be prepared to “weather the storm of public anger”, and hunkered down to wait out the first asset sale. Their thinking is that once the first power company – Mighty River Power – is part-privatised, that the public clamour would die away, and subsequent asset sales would attract less and less protest.
However, the people of this country had one last card to play; the Treaty of Waitangi. Long ignored by pakeha; the favourite rant of demented callers on talkback radio; and the dog-whistle-of-choice by right wing politicians looking to garner a few thousand extra votes, there’s nothing quite like mentioning “Maori” and “Treaty” to whip up a bit of racist hysteria. It’s practically a basic Law of the Perverse-Universe; “Maori” + “Treaty” = Kneejerk Racist Response.
When the Maori Council announced on 9 July that the part-sale of SOEs would result in Maori lodging an application to the Waitangi Tribunal, the response was as followed;
1. The Thinking Man & Woman
Absolute delight and a sigh of relief. Critics of privatisation finally had a powerful means by which National’s agenda might be stalled – perhaps even halted dead in it’s tracks.
For the first time, the Treaty of Waitangi would be a document protecting the rights of pakeha, as well as tangata whenua. This was something never foreseen by anyone – but when you think about it, has a perfect logic and symmetry to it.
2. The Unthinking Man & Woman
“Maori” + “Treaty” = Kneejerk Racist Response.
This blogger has tried to get into the minds of reactionary racists, to try to understand how their mental processes work. Without much success, unfortunately. The closest I can come to, to understand the mind of a redneck is that they are extremely fearful. But of what, precisely, who knows. Perhaps they whisper to each other that Maori are coming to steal their houses through the next Treaty claim, and put us all on boats back to Mother England? (Or Eastern Europe, for this blogger.)
Unfortunately, the Unthinking Man & Woman appears to be incapable of understanding that the Maori Council’s tactics are for all our benefits; to slow down or halt the part-sales process. Their minds are caught in some weird “neuron-loop” where all they can think of is Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty… ad infinitum.
Even one person who took the effort to post comments on a previous blogpost did not seem to understand. (See Mary’s comments here; It’s official: racists aren’t very bright )
And see more comments here, on Fairfax’s website: Harawira criticises Key over Maori water claim
No wonder Key is being stubborn on this issue; he is hoping to tap into a rich vein of racial prejudice, and to boost his Party’s standing in the next political poll. Such a rise would be temporary, as happened when Don Brash gave his infamous “Orewa Speech” in January 2004.
3. John Key
John Key has been rattled by recent events. He may choose to dismiss public opinion polls; street marches; and other expressions of public discontent – but he cannot so easily dismiss a legal challenge.
Whilst Waitangi Tribunal decisions are not binding on governments – High Court rulings most certainly are. Even governments must obey laws and Court decisions, irrespective of how ‘irksome’ such legal decisions may be.
9 July: Waitangi Tribunal hearing begins in Lower Hutt, after the Maori Council lodges an urgent claim testing the rights of Maori over water.
John Key states, “The Government’s very firm view is that no-one owns water: we certainly don’t believe Maori own water; we don’t believe they own the airways, air or sea.“
10 July: On TVNZ’s “Breakfast“, John Key says, “We could choose to ignore what findings they might have – I’m not saying we would, but we could.”
10 July: On TV3′s “Firstline“, Key says, “In the same way we don’t think anyone owns the sea and we don’t think anyone owns air.”
Unfortunately for Dear Leader, he may be engaging in a spot of wishful thinking, according to this comment made three days later;
13 July: TV3: Crown lawyer, Paul Radich admits, “It’s accepted that Maori do have rights and interests in water.”
16 July: “It was very matter of fact, I basically just said the Tribunal’s not binding on any government. ‘I actually said exactly the same words in front of the Treaty meeting house on Waitangi Day.”
16 July: John Key states, “You can’t rule that out. It’s a matter that could be subject to court action. We certainly hope it’s not delayed. I think we should work on the principle that there is a high probability that we will be going to court. “
Despite all of Key’s bluster and highly provocative remarks – many offensive – he has publicly admitted for the first time, that where public opinion and protest failed – Maori may succeed in halting National’s privatisation programme.
For the first time since 26 November 2011, there is now a distinct possibility that the privatisation agenda may be thwarted. It is a slim hope, but barring a sudden snap election, that is all we have to go on.
17 July: Key stated, “Why wasn’t it tested in 1999 when Contact was sold. In my view it’s opportunistic.”
This was backed up by his Deputy PM, Bill English, “The Maori Council doesn’t have any interest in any river, lake, spring or creek. The Iwi Leadership Group and individual iwis are working constructively with the Crown. They don’t represent any particular interest.”
Key and English seem to be going all-out to play hard-ball. Something has them ‘spooked’, and this blogger understands why, with comments made by Dear Leader yesterday: this is heading to Court.
And still, the inflammatory rhetoric kept coming;
17 July: John Key says, “The Crown’s long held view is that it’s irrelevant whether there is a change of ownership structure in Mighty River Power, it has no bearing to any rights or interests in water that Mighty River Power currently has long term water rights for… There’s a chance a meteorite will hit the Earth this afternoon, but I don’t think it’s likely.”
Key seems to think that if he repeats this mantra over and over again, that Maori will “fall in line” and make it happen his way. Dear Leader is dreaming in LaLaLand. Maori are tough operators and have learned to use the Pakeha system to their advantage, to address Treaty breaches.
Only, this time, it will be to the entire nation’s advantage, if the Maori Council succeed. We may yet stop National from thieving our state assets.
Last point: As TV3 News reported today (17 July); up to 84,000 meteorites hit Earth each year. So Dear Leader John Key may yet be in for a surprise.
= fs =