Mike Hosking: Labour's push to protect Māori wards is political dishonesty

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 24 Feb 2021, 4:22PM
Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Mike Hosking: Labour's push to protect Māori wards is political dishonesty

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 24 Feb 2021, 4:22PM

A good piece on Newsroom - What’s the rush? Lawmaking in a hurry - deals with the governments use of urgency and specifically around the change to Māori wards for councils.

I am “for” the change only on the basis that it’s an anomaly. It’s the only thing a council does that you can rummage up some signatures by way of a petition and force a vote on their decision. The fact you have been able to, as it turns out, is very valuable - back to that in a moment.

But, given its unique, it’s therefore to some degree unfair, and that is the government’s argument for changing it.

It’s a dishonest argument of course even though it’s technically correct. It’s an argument of convenience.

They are really doing it because they want more Māori around council tables and democracy hasn’t worked, so they are gerrymandering the system to suit their cause.

The really egregious part of the move is that the Labour Party didn’t talk about it in the election, and there is a reason for that: they knew full well what sort of reaction they would get.

So that is a case of fundamental political dishonesty for the most open honest and transparent government. It’s yet another example of what a joke that line really always was.

But back to the value of referenda. What we have been able to glean from those votes is almost universally people don’t want specific Māori wards.

Nothing to do with racism, because the beauty of democracy - free and open democracy - is anyone can stand for a seat, a ward, a council, a committee, a board.

Race is not an impediment to electoral success or voter support. Statement of fact. You want to stand, stand, nothing is stopping you.

The fact Māori don’t or haven’t is not the voters problem. The fact they’re not always elected because they don’t stand in large swathes is not the voter’s problem either.

The voter votes for the people with their hand up.

So by promoting Māori wards, councils, we know from the ensuing referenda, are acting against the will of the community.

And in then voting to not have a vote on the matter, which many a council has done, they are further acting against the will of the local community, and that has been the value of the law to this point.

You have tangible examples of what the council do vs what the people think. But you can forget all that, because central government, driven by colonial guilt and politically correct ideology, is putting all that to an end.

And they’re doing it as fast as they can have not whispered a word about it. Classy.