Wednesday, February 06, 2008

National backflips on Maori seats

I was slightly heartened by John Key's comment that, according to Stuff that (paraphrased) "the National Party would have no second thoughts about abolishing the Maori seats once the historical treaty settlement claim process had been resolved".
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Well only that the policy remains, except for the bizarre linkage between the seats and treaty settlements. This significantly incentivises the prolonging of that process. Why do those seats assist that process? The only people assisted by the Maori seats are the members of the Maori party
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John here is a new concept, it is called a principle.
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In New Zealand, as in all other liberal democracies, all eligible people 18 and over have the right to vote. This right should not have any limits or privileges. In a modern 21st century secular liberal democracy, race based seats have no future. Only one political party benefits from these, and it is racist itself. Only one political party benefits from winning constituencies defined in part by race, and by doing so gets a notably higher proportion of seats in Parliament from those race based constituencies (3.3%) than it would win based upon nationwide party vote (2.1%). MMP was partly advanced on the basis that it would allow party lists to comprise a more representative variety of people from different backgrounds, and this has happened.
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The Maori seats should go. It is NOT racism, it is NOT Maori bashing. It simply reflects that constituencies in the New Zealand Parliament should be based on geography - nothing else. It will mean National wont always win Northland (because most of the votes for that constituency are non-Maori), and it might never win seats in East Cape/Gisborne, but it wont mean Maori representation is over.
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However I suspect John Key wants to reserve the right to "do a deal" with the Maori Party after the next election, as he can't be sure of National getting 47-48% of the vote. No different than Helen Clark with Winston Peters and Peter Dunne - but how do we know John Key wont sell out National voters? We DO know Helen Clark does deals but tends not to sell out Labour voters (throwing a new bureaucracy, getting rid of tolls on a road and other baubles are nothing compared to what National might do).

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