This has not had the media attention that it deserves but Act has raised, to use the technical term, a shit load of money recently.
The Electoral Commission reports the following donations were made:
That is $985,000 which is a lot of chook raffles.
And the vast majority of this money (all but $35,000) was paid this month between March 1 and March 15
What could have caused this uber generosity from some pretty well healed people?
It may be completely and entirely coincidental but Act has since engaged in some good old fashioned treaty bashing rhetoric. It has set up an email harvesting petition. And David Seymour has even given a speech on the subject.
His speech is something that Winston Peters would be proud of. Especially this piece:
Over the past forty years there has been a quiet shift from the courts and the Waitangi Tribunal in the way that the Treaty is interpreted. The problem is that this shift is transforming our constitutional underpinnings but has never been subject to public debate.
In fact, many people feel unable to raise their voice on the constitutional future of their country for fear of being branded as racist.
Nevertheless, we are seeing our constitutional settings being transformed from the nation state that a literal reading of the Treaty demands, where all citizens have the ‘same rights and duties,’ to an ethno-state. In this ‘tiriti-centric Aotearoa,’ there are two types or people. Tangata whenua, here by right, and tangata tiriti, here by the grace of whatever the courts and the Waitangi Tribunal think the Treaty means.
Nobody in government has ever come out and asked the simple question: do you think the best way to preserve Māori culture and create equal opportunity is to abandon liberal democracy? Instead, we see a quiet assumption that every aspect of governance in New Zealand should change to a state where there are two baskets of political rights. On more and more boards and councils, some people are appointed based on who their great grandparents were while the rest have to stick with the old system of having elections and winning votes.
While it is true that more recently the Courts have given greater credence to treaty issues this is because the approach previously was to completely ignore the treaty. And I would challenge Seymour to read the 1987 Lands Case decision and say which part of the decision was wrong. The essence of the decision was that the Crown had to act act reasonably and in good faith, it had to actively protect Māori interests, it should make informed decisions, it should remedy past grievances but it retained the right to govern.
This is not an attack on liberal democracy, which normally requires that rights under agreements and treaties be observed, this is pure dog whistle politics.
And it is interesting that the funders of this campaign against so called privilege are some of the most privileged people in the country. I wonder how they feel about their wealth being used in this way.
Clearly the strategy on the right is to soak up NZ First support and make sure they are not in the next Parliament. And tap into latent grumpiness and turn a few minds at the same time.
But it is getting into stupid territory with Seymour stating that a bottom line for ACT coalition negotiations will be the holding of a referendum on their proposed treaty principles bill. The effect of this if passed is that article two of the treaty, which promised to preserve to Maori their lands and taonga, would no longer be a treaty principle. Say goodbye to every treaty right that currently exists.
Liberal democracies where discrimination based on ethnicity is illegal do not require that promises made by the state to the indigenous people in the treaty that forms the basis of government be breached. This is fatuous nonsense.
Stand by, this is going to get ugly. And Act has the funds to make it really ugly.