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Muriel Newman: The Radicalisation of Parliament

Dr Muriel Newman,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 Nov 2023, 5:00am

Muriel Newman: The Radicalisation of Parliament

Dr Muriel Newman,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 Nov 2023, 5:00am

Parliament has not even been sworn in, but already the Greens, the Maori Party, and Labour, are demonstrating levels of radicalism not seen in our House of Representatives before.

Their target is the new government – and their supporters.

Is this extremism going to be their modus operandi for the next three years?

When Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick chanted “From the river to the sea” at a recent rally for Gaza, the crowd responded, “Palestine will be free”.

The words of this battle cry can be found in the constitution of Hamas and are commonly understood to stand for the complete annihilation of Israel and the Jewish people.

In Britain, when a Labour MP used a similar expression at a pro-Palestine rally, the Labour leader condemned the comments as “deeply offensive” and suspended him.

In contrast, not only was Chloe Swarbrick not suspended, but one of the Green co-leaders, Marama Davidson, was egging her on!

This incident is indicative of the radicalisation of the Greens. They have morphed from a Party of environmentalism to one of extremism.

Even the other co-leader James Shaw, who has long cultivated an image of moderation and reasonableness, has now revealed he’s just as radical as the rest by promising “violence” and “wide scale social disruption” if the new government goes ahead with ACT’s proposed referendum on the Treaty.

Marama Davidson escalated their rhetoric with threats: “Just try and come for the Treaty, just try”. She warned the Greens intend inciting public opposition and resistance: “There is going to be community-led resistance and movement that the Greens will absolutely amplify.”

Not to be outdone, Maori Party president John Tamihere claimed, “all hell would break loose” if the government tries to introduce the referendum with “well-organised” protest: “That protest will be significant... there will be days of national Maori action and they'll close down Whangarei, Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Wellington.”

He described the referendum as a ‘clarion call’ for protest around the country: “Even conservative Maori who voted for National would come out with us.”

The rhetoric from Labour was even more menacing, with former Minister Willie Jackson making inflammatory threats that Maori would ‘go to war’ over the referendum: “If there's a referendum I'll… fight that, and to stop that. I'm amongst people who will go to war for this, war against Seymour and his mates”.

And on TVNZ’s Q&A, he warned, “Let me tell you now, if they try and push that through it'll be 81 Springbok Tour, civil unrest times five, times ten.”

Prior to being repealed in 2007 by the then Labour Government, such comments would likely have qualified as sedition under Section 81 of the Crimes Act 1961: “A seditious intention is an intention to bring into hatred or contempt, or to excite disaffection against, the Government of New Zealand; or to incite, procure, or encourage violence, lawlessness, or disorder; or to incite, procure, or encourage the commission of any offence that is prejudicial to the public safety or to the maintenance of public order; or to excite such hostility or ill will between different classes of persons as may endanger public safety.”

Isn’t all of this exactly what Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party are doing?

So, what is it that’s giving rise to such orchestrated intimidation?

ACT has proposed a referendum to clarify the meaning of the “principles” of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Even though the Treaty doesn’t actually have any principles, dozens have been invented over the years by the judiciary, the Waitangi Tribunal, academia, and the civil service to embed race-based privilege into our legislative and regulatory framework.

Most recently, the invented principle of a ‘partnership’ between Maori and the Crown was used by the Ardern-Hipkins Labour Government to justify steamrolling their secretive He Puapua plan for tribal control across the country.

As a result, iwi have gained unjustified privileges that would be threatened if the ‘principles’ were changed. That’s why opposition party rhetoric is so explosive - they want to prevent the new government from touching the lucrative arrangements they have put in place.

ACT’s proposed referendum would define three principles based on the Treaty’s three articles in a Treaty Principles Act, with the public then asked to support or oppose the law change.

The first principles would be along the lines of, “The New Zealand Government has the right to govern New Zealand”. The second, “The New Zealand Government will protect all New Zealanders’ authority over their land and other property”. And the third, “All New Zealanders are equal under the law, with the same rights and duties”.

So, the battle to regain democratic control of our country has now begun.

Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party are determined to prevent the new National-led government from even considering a referendum since it would not only jeopardise iwi privilege, but it would also undermine their own power-base, which depends on the continued categorisation of Maori as victims of a tyrannical majority.

Fortunately, most Maori do not buy into that agenda.

Most Maori have the same aspirations as everyone else to build a better life and a brighter future for themselves and their families. Its long past time that we stopped isolating them through separate laws and practices and began treating them as the equals they are.

That was a recommendation made back in 1960 when Sir Jack Hunn, the Deputy Chaiman of the Public Service, published his landmark report into Maori Affairs which recommended the phasing out of separate statutes for Maori: “Differentiation between Maoris and Europeans in statute law should be reviewed at intervals and gradually eliminated”.

The report also noted that Maori disadvantage was socio-economic, not race-based: “Such discrimination as may exist is obviously not racial but social and applies between different groups of society, whether Maori or European”.

Equality was also recommended by the 1986 Royal Commission into the electoral system, which suggested that if MMP was introduced, there should be a common electoral roll and no race-based seats. They argued that Maori would receive more effective government if they were part of the mainstream of society.

They also worried about the consequences of a disproportionate over-representation of Maori in Parliament - if the Maori seats were not removed: “Nor do we think it appropriate that any minority group should have the power of veto in the legislation of a democratic nation.”

They would no doubt be horrified to see that one such repercussions of a minority of Maori holding disproportionate power is the introduction of an Apartheid-style health system which prioritises patients on the basis of race, instead of clinical need.

Given successive governments have lacked the courage to do what’s right for the country and remove the Maori seats, has MMP delivered an over-representation of Maori in this 10th Parliament?

The unequivocal answer is “yes”.

Of the 122 MPs elected to Parliament, 33 are Maori. While Maori make up only 13.7 percent of the adult population, their representation in Parliament is almost double at 27 percent.

With non-Maori now significantly underrepresented in Parliament, the country is overdue for electoral law reform to rectify the imbalance. If the Maori seats were removed, Maori would still make up more than 20 percent of Parliament, so claims there would be an underrepresentation if the reserved seats were abolished are unwarranted.

Furthermore, while 18 of the Maori MPs are list Members, the fact that 8 won general seats while 7 won Maori seats invalidates claims that the ‘system’ is hostile to Maori.

Opposition parties aren’t just threatening violence over the referendum either, but over any law change that would undermine the iwi power base.

The co-leader of the Maori Party Debbie Ngarewa-Packer claimed there would an “uprising of the hikoi of all hikois”, if National attempts to fix their Marine and Coastal Area Act, which has now been re-engineered by the Court of Appeal to ensure tribal control of virtually the entire coastline and Territorial Sea.

Given the law as it stands will now deliver the exact opposite of what Parliament intended when it was introduced in 2011, it is beholden on the new government to fix it to protect the public interest.

In reality, the threats of violence and civil unrest issued by MPs are a last-ditch attempt to protect the separatist power-base that’s been established over the last six years across the public and private sectors.

They are desperate to prevent the new government from exercising the mandate from voters to restore democracy and remove all traces of He Puapua and tribal rule from our statutes. Bullying the new Prime Minister – and the public - into submission is their strategy.

Let’s hope democracy prevails.

Dr Muriel Newman, a former Member of Parliament, runs the New Zealand Centre for Political Research public policy think tank at www.nzcpr.com.

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