It is amazing how quickly positions can change when it comes to an election. For months we have been told by Bill English there would be no tax cuts, at the same time John Key was fudging. In May 2014 prior to the budget Key’s position was reported as follows
“I suppose if that’s was where we ultimately decide to go, then yes. But then again it’s just so early, we haven’t really made any call like that, whether we might just spend it on areas of need, those decisions haven’t been made yet,” he said. Key said he did not know yet when a decision would be made about whether National would offer tax cuts.
“Obviously as we go into the campaign we’ll want to think about what we are campaigning on if we are in the position to have a third term. So all of those decisions will have to be made sometime in the next four and a half months.” (http://www.interest.co.nz/news/69919/john-key-suggests-national-government-may-include-middle-class-tax-cuts-its-platform-sept_ )
Now just weeks out from the election Key announces a tax cut that may or may not be a tax cut and may or may not happen in 2017. We have a National government in a state of electoral dilemma. We are now seeing all forms of manipulative behaviour that really brings to the fore the game playing and manipulations that are the underpinning issues raised in the ‘Dirty Politics’ book.
Alongside the ‘claytons’ tax cut promise (which is the tax cut promise you get when you don’t really get a tax cut) is the recent announcement by the National Party in regards to Treaty settlements and Māori representation in parliament. In the Herald article by Yvonne Tahana it is noted:
Leader John Key released Treaty negotiations, Maori affairs and electoral law policies yesterday.
Under the first, the party wants to settle all historical Treaty settlements by 2014. The electoral policy would see the seven Maori seats abolished once that is accomplished.
Mr Key said sorting out Treaty issues was an important “milestone” that had to be reached before any constitutional change could happen.
While the target had been set there were variables that could impede on that timeline, including the claims laid before the September 1 deadline.
Putting Treaty issues to one side, Maori had the same concerns as the rest of the country and that’s why one franchise would eventually be the way to go, Mr Key said.
“The vast bulk of aspirations are identical to the beliefs of non-Maori New Zealanders. At the forefront of that is greater economic prosperity, greater opportunity through education, greater security.”
This morning, Mr Key said he didn’t think seven Maori MPs should deal with all the Maori issues.
“If all 120 members are on a universal franchise, one country, one voting franchise, then all 120 members of parliament have to take a keen and active interest for their constituents,” he said.
“Maori leaders themselves have been saying there will be a time when the Maori seats are no longer required.
“They may disagree with our timing, but the fundamental principle they don’t disagree with.”
Having been a part of the Constitutional Review Panel there is no evidence to support John Key’s assertions that our people agree with the removal of the Maori seats. What is clear is that our Treaty rights must be embedded and that the Maori seats must remain untouched unless our people collectively agree that there is a need to look at them. The Constitutional Review Panel were in agreement with the position of the Royal Commission that “The purpose of separate Māori representation is to prevent the exclusion of the Māori people from the policy and law-making processes by guaranteeing them representation in the legislature”. (Royal Commission on the Electoral System (1986), p. 94.)
Where John Key draws upon liberal rhetoric (in a neoliberal way!) to espouse that all 120 members of Parliament should be taking “a keen and active interest for their constituents”, there is no evidence that this has ever been the case for Māori and in particular in regards to ensuring that there is real and meaningful Treaty rights accorded.
To this day, over 174 years after the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi our people wait for the government, as the Crown, to honour its commitments. Successive governments have celebrated their ‘track record’ in terms of Treaty Settlements however none of those settlements have come anywhere near returning what was stolen through illegal occupation of our lands, there is little if any true recognition of Te Reo Māori and often very little public affirmation of our tikanga.
Tangata Whenua rights of tino rangatiratanga as our tupuna asserted within Te Tiriti o Waitangi continue to be denied. So why would we have faith in 120 parliamentarians to carry a universal commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of our people without having Maori representation to engage directly with government? The current National government may claim to have settled a large number of Treaty claims but for our iwi of Te Atiawa that has come at the cost of destroying many relationships, Why? Because the Crown continues to operate within the Fiscal Envelope rules of only dealing with who they consider to be the ‘largest natural grouping’… interestingly, there is no reference to that type of thinking within Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which in fact places the decision making power with hapū. Treaty settlements amount to a pitiful amount of funds in comparison to corporate bailouts. Some settlements for the genocidal actions of colonial governments amount to less that what has been spent on building a new bridge up the road from the Iwi! We can not take the current articulation of ‘haven’t we done well settling these claims’ rhetoric seriously and nor should we accept it as a basis for removing the minimal representation that we currently hold.
What we see in this policy announcement by John Key is a further lurch to the Right. This type of policy aligns to the hardline conservative party and clearly places Key in a position where he will be negotiating with the far right in order to create a government. That means that the next election term would see an even greater removal of Treaty rights. A far right coalition partner with National would also mean increased mainstreaming of services, further reduction of Maori provided services and as already advocated by John Key an increased attacks on Maori seats and representation. Should we be worried, Yes. But it should not only by Maori that should be worried, it should be all New Zealanders, as we must remember the lessons of the past that they may attack the minority groups first however it is only a matter of time before they move on the rest of the 99%.
GET UP STAND UP WHĀNAU
STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS
Here is the link for the Tūtahi video