On Judith Collins’ so called race baiting speech at the weekend: I think it is fair to say that this speech smacks of desperation.
I’ll explain why I think that, but can I just say at the outset that this is a legitimate subject to raise.
If you haven’t caught up on the speech, on Saturday Collins basically accused the government of possibly introducing “two systems” based on race by stealth.
She referred to a document called He Puapua, which has been sitting with the government since 2019.
And the documents outlines what the government needs to do in order to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by 2040.
He Puapua makes a number of recommendations, including Māori wards on councils, making New Zealand history compulsory in schools, and setting up a Māori health authority – all done.
It also recommends a separate Māori parliament, and a separate Māori justice system based on Tikanga Māori.
I think it’s entirely plausible that Labour might well consider implementing more of these recommendations given the size of the Māori caucus and the pressure it’ll be putting on the PM, and the fact that they’ve already introduced one of these recommendations without any warning ahead of the election, and that’s the Māori wards on councils.
But, as legit a subject as this is, and as much as the Prime Minister does need to face questions on this, this just feels like desperation from Collins.
It feels like they rushed this speech or wrote it at the last minute, because there was no heads up to media that this was coming so there no political editors at the conference.
It was on a Saturday. It came out of the blue entirely.
And, given the subject matter, it was always going to be compared to the Orewa speech which propelled Don Brash up the polls.
There are strategies for how to get a topic like this up and running in the media, and this was not one of them.
On the contrary it feels like Collins is clutching at anything to get her polling up and keep any leadership challenges at bay.
So while I think she raises some good points that need answering, the overwhelming sense of desperation around the speech might drown that out. It might be that we end up talking about that, not the substance of it.