I know I claimed to be taking a break in the run up to exams, but there are a few interesting issues that need to be covered. In this post I’ll cover a few (briefly):
- The Electoral Commission has announced that Louisa Wall will replace Darren Hughes in Parliament. This will come as no surprise to anyone. Louisa was the Labour Party hierarchy’s preferred choice and they made no secret of it. Parachuting Louisa into Parliament makes practical sense, however, as I said on Native Affairs, I do not think that is in the spirit of MMP. The biggest practical advantage is that membership of the House will serve as a form of incumbency and provide a good base for her campaign in Manurewa. Louisa will make an excellent MP in my opinion, but she is no Darren Hughes. She will be the seventh Maori MP in the Labour Party caucus and the twenty first Maori MP in the current Parliament.
- Whaimutu Dewes is calling for an overhaul of Maori land law. I am not qualified to pass comment on the merits/drawbacks of this suggestion, however I think it makes sense. Dewes makes the point that the one size fits all approach is inadequate, as it tends to be in most circumstances.
- Rumour has it Willie Jackson is seriously considering standing in Tamaki Makaurau. This topic deserves an entire post but I do not have the time so I’ll skim over it. Conventional wisdom would suggest that Willie would merely split the vote and clear the way for Shane Jones to take the seat. However, I disagree. Shane’s recent success in the polls is not an indication of a personal following or approval with the Labour Party. The voters of Tamaki Makaurau are clearly disillusioned with Pita Sharples and Shane Jones is the only other option. He receives Pita’s former supporters by default. Shane actually has done nothing. And nothing has worked only because he is the only other candidate. I am of the opinion were Willie to stand he would receive most of Pita’s votes. Willie is, in terms of character and politics, more aligned with Pita than Shane. The difference is Willie lacks the recent political baggage that Pita carries. It must be kept in mind that Shane still lacks credibility among women and, to a lesser extent, the general public. The margin of error was 11% too. That is a considerable range. Ultimately, without knowing Willie personally it really is hard to predict whether he will stand.
- Parekura Horomia has acknowledged Te Whanau a Apanui, but has not come out in support of their stance or in opposition to oil prospecting generally. This is disappointing yet expected. A step in the right direction to be fair. Parekura is right to highlight the strength of Te Whanau a Apanui resolve, but timid in refusing to offer forthright political support. Te Whanau a Apanui cannot confront and permanently deter Petrobras, one of the largest oil companies in the world, without significant political and public support. Protest and confrontation is a short term barrier and cannot continue forever nor escalate into direct and possibly illegal confrontation. If Te Whanau a Apanui can attract further political and public support it will have a cumulative effect and they could just beat Petrobras. It will be a long, long, long shot though (I hope to blog further on this issue some time after my tests).