Mar 8, 2012

More on the Maori Party and s9

The pressure is mounting on the Maori Party. From TVNZ:

The leader of Pita Sharples' iwi says he will help the Maori Party pack up its offices if a controversial treaty clause is not applied to private shareholders buying state assets.

The Maori Party threatened to quit the coalition if the treaty clause did not apply to both the Crown and private shareholders.

But only the Crown will be subject to the treaty clause in legislation unveiled by National yesterday, putting the Maori Party under pressure to make good on its ultimatum.

"Well they [the Maori Party] said it and we supported them, so there's going to need to be some quite strong thinking around this issue," said Ngati Kahungunu chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana.

Many Maori are very, very disappointed that s9 will not be inserted in the Mixed Ownership Model Bill. Instead, s9 will be replicated in the Public Finance Act (PFA) and will only apply to the Crown in respect of the PFA. That, according to many Maori including myself, is not good enough.

When the government floated the idea of removing s9 the Maori Party went nuclear and demanded that private shareholders fall under s9. In the party’s submission on s9 they hold that “section 9 relates to all shareholdings not just the Crown’s”. Remember the Maori Party stated that they would dump their deal with National if this condition was not met. This condition remains only half satisfied, meaning s9 applies to the Crown only, yet the Maori Party remains in government. God knows how they can justify that.

You can argue that the party is taking a pragmatic approach. The government was never going to accept the Maori Party’s demands and, after all, they have no leverage. But on the other hand you can argue that the party has caved on principle – again. They said they would do this, but ended up doing that. Much like they did with the Marina and Coastal Areas Act.

In my opinion, the leaders are undermining their own credibility and further damaging the Maori Party brand. Outside of iwi circles and outside of government circles the Maori Party brand is shit. They cannot afford to have iwi leaders turn against them. Support from iwi leaders is about the only thing that could possibly carry the Maori Party through the next election. But even then, I don’t think that’s going to be enough.

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