Alf hadn’t noticed a recent opinion piece by Gareth Morgan, the bloke with a dislike of moggies but – hurrah – a great urge to preserve our democracy.
Morgan was contributing to the debate over Maori representation on local councils.
More particularly, he was taking issue with New Plymouth’s (very temporary) Mayor, Andrew Judd, who had embroiled himself in a debate over whether his council should have a Maori ward and was calling for all councils to have Maori provide half of their councils.
According to Morgan:
This, he believes, would better “reflect” the Treaty of Waitangi. Demonstrating if nothing else, just how dynamic interpretations of the Treaty have become, the Judd model seriously undermines democracy in New Zealand.
Maori have aspirations, and achieving those should as far as possible be supported by other New Zealanders. These aspirations include having more say over their own lives, and eradication of socio-economic disadvantage.
But is the best way to achieve those aspirations to grant Maori unique political power over matters that affect everyone? That is a question all New Zealanders need to wake up to and discuss.
Morgan goes on :
To accommodate degradation of democracy is risky in the extreme. It also contravenes Article Three of the Treaty, which in 21st-century terms holds that we are equal citizens – one person, one vote. More worryingly, political theory and experience points out that granting unique political power to any group is a quick path to a divided nation.
Is there anyone out there seriously in favour of this?
They include Greenie Catherine Delahunty, who says:
The assumption that Maori seats on local authorities will destroy democracy is not correct. Where this has occurred on councils the sky has not fallen on the communities or upon decision making.
The sky has not fallen on communities in countries run by despots, either. And decisions affecting communities are made regardless of the governance structure.
That doesn’t mean Alf would want to live there.
Nor does he want to water down our democracy so that we edge towards despotism.
Delahunty goes on:
The co-governance structures created in some Te Tiriti settlements are actually a closer reflection of Te Tiriti than Maori wards or seats but the jury is still out on how well they can work.
Yep. She’s talking about 50:50 arrangements that somewhat weigh things in favour of indigenous persons who make up around 15% of our society.
She is only too aware of the thoroughly experimental nature of these arrangements:
The resource disparity between regional councils and iwi and hapu load the dice against an equitable relationship.
But the bloody treaty dominates her political philosophy.
The entrenchment of a stronger iwi role in resource management decision making has been written into Te Tiriti settlements but will not work if councils refuse to engage.
We taxpayers have been coughing up compensation to indigenous persons for decisions made long ago, let’s not forget.
And guess what the money will be used for?
An example of this problem was described to me by representatives of the Te Tau Ihu from the top of Te Wai Pounamu who told me they might have to use Te Tiriti settlement funds to fight councils in court for these statutory relationships to be realised, it seemed the ultimate irony.
Delahunty’s disinclination to object to a particular race being given disproportionate political power is bothersome.
But should we be surprised?
A brighter year, she’s had plenty to say about education and more recently human rights – from a hard left perspective, of course.
Plenty to say indeed.
Whether it’s worth listening to is the question.
On the strength of her Herald stuff, Alf would knock her down to 0/10.