Attack on democracy

Written By: - Date published: 5:02 pm, September 28th, 2008 - 52 comments
Categories: election 2008, maori party, national - Tags:

National have quietly released their policy on electoral law and have promised to abolish the Maori seats once treaty claims are finished, repeal the Electoral Finance Act and run a referendum on MMP.

These all represent substantial changes to the way our democracy operates.

I’ll be very interested to see what the Maori Party make of the abolition of seats. I’d also like to know what kind of electoral law they envisage replacing the EFA because I have a bad feeling it won’t involve transparency and the removal of anonymous donations. I sincerely hope our media push for details about the Nat’s plans for electoral law because it’s too important to see it taken back to the days of the shadowy backrooms.

Regarding the plan to run a referendum on MMP, I can only repeat what I said when the Nat’s intentions for MMP first came to light:

I would imagine we’ll hear a lot about how National just support the democratic right to choose an electoral system while their backers run big money campaigns to push first past the post.

Just in case you missed it the first time around here’s a video showing exactly what that meant

52 comments on “Attack on democracy”

  1. The PC Avenger 1

    RE: The Maori party, National, and the maori seats.

    They appear to view it as some kind of bizarre political suicide.

    “Campbell : Having said that, and given we haven’t seen all of National’s policy hand yet – can you imagine anything they might propose that would count as a bridge too far in preventing you from going into government with National ?

    Harawira : Getting rid of the Maori seats. That’d be a bridge too far. A refusal to allow us to be a player at the table.

    Campbell : Have you had any communications from National that the abolition of the Maori seats or anything else would be off the table ?

    Harawira : We’re hearing that sort of thing informally all the time. And we understand that’s on the basis of political analysis that if all the Maori seats were to flow back into the general seats they would all vote Labour – in sufficient numbers and in sufficient seats that National wouldn’t rule again for another 30 years. “

  2. IrishBill 2

    And just for the record I expect all the coverage will be in the mode of “what will this mean for a Maori Party deal with National” and none will address the actual role of the Maori seats in our democracy.

    I’d like the gallery to prove me wrong but I doubt they will.

  3. bill brown 3

    No, Irish, you’re wrong. All the coverage is about some American film star who has died.

    I wish my captcha was priorities akimbo, but it aint.

  4. IrishBill 4

    Bill, that’s because National released this late on a Sunday afternoon. It seems a deliberate attempt to downplay the policy as news of it will be more than 24 hours old by the time the sixes go to air again.

  5. bill brown 5

    Come on, the press release is timed 3:13 PM – our “premier news channel” can’t get it on the air in 2 and 3/4 hours?

    For Buddah’s sake, you spotted it, I spotted it. It was probably sent straight to them!

    They’re a joke.

  6. IrishBill 6

    Perhaps as an RVO but it takes time to shoot interviews get covershots and edit. Sunday afternoon is also a bad time to try to chase up talent which is clear from the lack of balancing opinion in any of the stories thus far. And it seems there was no public launch on this. just a media release and that makes it even harder to get pictures.

  7. jaymam 7

    “that National wouldn’t rule again for another 30 years”
    Oh dear how sad! How old will Key, English, Brownlee be then? 🙂

  8. randal 8

    Hey look you guys…the media know everything. What they dont know isnt worth knowing. dont knock them they might get a black mark on ther c.v.’s when they finally decide to scuttle off and then they will cry and blub.

  9. Brilliant polices!!!, a referendum is needed on MMP, why have seats based on race? and get rid of the sickening electoral finance act.

    Well done to John Key.

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    Brett, what does MMP have to do with the Maori seats?
    The EFA needs cleaning up but getting rid of it would be counter productive.

  11. FYI – I heard about the policies on the 2pm news on Newstalk ZB, and blogged about it soon after. The decision to repeal the EFA is no surprise – Key talked about that in the third reading debate on the EFA last year. Nor should the referendum on MMP – this was signalled months ago. What is significant is that it will be a BINDING referendum – I can’t imagine Labour giving the peasants a chance to speak like that.

    But heck – you guys slag National off for not releasing policy, then when they do, you slag them off all over again. Kind of says something doesn’t it.

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2008/09/nationals-electoral-law-policy.html

  12. Greg 12

    IrishBill – According to Key they are going to abolish the EFA, replace electoral law with the old act in the mean time, except keeping the EFA’s provisions on anonymous donations and eventually put in place a new electoral law using a bi-partisan approach. Seems fair enough to me. Electoral law should never be solely decided by the party in power at the time for obvious reasons.

  13. IrishBill 13

    Greg, I read that after I wrote my post. If they really do abolish anonymous donations including donations from trusts I’ll be very happy. I’ll be particularly interested to see what they want to do with the campaign period. My preference is to keep it at a year.

    I’d also like to see where they stand on full public funding.

  14. gobsmacked 14

    National’s stated policies are a clear rejection of Brash’s Orewa speech. They also require significant increases in public spending. So there are two obvious questions for the media to put to John Key: “Are you now apologising for Orewa, and acknowledging it was always a fraud?” and “Where’s the money coming from, and how much?”.

    But I’m guessing we won’t be hearing those questions. I hope I’m wrong.

    The relevant policy lines (from National’s press release), and my comments in italics:

    * Putting a big focus on investment in education (spending taxes), including national standards, trades in schools, our Youth Guarantee, promoting greater participation in early childhood education through Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa, and expanding Te Kotahitanga. Orewa’s “race-based” programmes

    * Improving health and housing outcomes for Maori, including working with Maori health providers and Maori collectives on housing. again, Orewa

    * Working to increase investment in Maori assets and enterprises, including working with iwi enterprises and their leaders to help overcome barriers to economic development. so, both taxes and Orewa

    * Acknowledging the importance of Maori language and culture, including committing to Maori broadcasting and the promotion of Maori language, arts and culture. how? how much money?

    * Working with Te Puni Kokiri to strengthen and expand successful and proven Maori-led programmes to advance outcomes for Maori. more Orewa, and more bureaucrats

    There’s so much there for real political journalists to get their teeth into. If only New Zealand had some.

  15. gobsmacked 15

    Sorry, the third one should not be all italics, it’s their policy.

  16. Draco T Bastard

    I was commenting on all three polices as separately.

    I know MMP has nothing to do with the Maori seats.

  17. I only hope National has a tough law and order policy, it seems the Standard’s members favorite little friend, has breached parole again, still Im guessing those on the left, don’t think it’s Bailey’s junior fault.

    Under a National government, the public would be kept safe from the likes of him.

  18. randal 18

    how do you know that brett dale. are you privy to their lauranorder policy. did jokey tell you that specifically. get a grip man.

  19. gobsmacked 19

    Really, Brett? Are you saying that a National government will have the power to keep someone in prison, even after their sentence has finished? The government will override the courts? No need to bother with trials and other inconveniences?

    Now that really would be a drift to Mugabe rule. God only knows how many treaties and laws they’d be breaking.

  20. Nope, but National will have the power to make sure that people like Bailey stay in Prison longer, where he should be.

  21. Draco T Bastard 21

    Brett, you’re really declining in your ability to post credible comments.

  22. Rex Widerstrom 22

    What’s Danna Glendinning (I notice the video spells her name wrongly :-/) doing these days? Still at Greens HQ? I’m surprised she doesn’t feature on the Greens’ list (unless of course she doesn’t want to) as she’s an impressive person…. one of those who, like Rod Donald, you may disagree with on some issues but would never doubt their earnestness and good intentions, nor their mastery of the subject matter.

    Back on topic… I’d be interested to hear what the people who supported MMP back then feel about the way it’s working now. I’d hope that the pragmatic and honest amongst them would agree that it’s fixed a lot of problems but has created others (most notably the fact that list MPs are beholden only to the list rankers which, in every party bu the Greens, are a relatively small coterie) and that there is no requirement on parties to make the ranking process open, fair, democratic or even (as was proven by the case I took against NZF in 1996) non-fraudulent!

    There’s no way I’d want to see a return to FPP. But I do believe we need a debate on the electoral system, which should centre on fixing MMP’s flaws (and they can easily be fixed) or introducing some other form of proportional representation.

  23. Draco T Bastard 23

    Well, Rex, MMP is working better than I expected it would. I’d worked out by the time I was 15 (1984 election) that FPP was completely undemocratic as it would predominately return minority governments. Can’t say I was overly knowledgeable about politics at the time of the referendum but it was definitely time, and past time, to change the electoral system.

    We do need to discuss the present system and its flaws – we need to agree on what the flaws are before we can do anything about them. IMO, get rid of all electorate seats, drop the threshold percentage down and make the lists open selection. This does have the problem that independents won’t be able to be elected but then, they don’t get elected anyway as, IMO, most people would consider voting for them to be a wasted vote. I still don’t like being beholden to political parties, especially when you consider that they are becoming less connected to the populace as their members decrease, but I suppose we will have to until such time as we become a participatory democracy (which I don’t see happening for another few decades).

  24. vidiot 24

    MMP in New Zealand isn’t working and that’s mostly because the country is getting pulled either to the hard right or to the hard left, by the fringe partners.

    If the two centrist parties actually got together (Yes a LAB/NAT grand coalition) and worked together, we would be in a lot better place than we currently are. There would be no fringe loonies (JAPP, NZF, Greens, ACT, etc) pulling us off kilter.

    If they wanted to overhaul MMP, why not reduce the party vote threshold down to 1%, reduce the number of MMP’s down to 100 and abolish the electorate seats ? The Maori seat’s wouldn’t be needed then either as as long as they got there % of vote high enough, they get the representation they deserve.

    None of this overhang BS.

    And the true attack on democracy was the introduction of the EFA, it should have been a bi-partisan agreement – not just one parties party toy.

  25. Rakaia George 25

    Just another thought for you all: There is a difference between a stated policy and what might be a “bottom line” for post-election negotiations.

    Why would the National Party, by this point expecting to be having to work with the Maori Party to form a government, throw away such a good bargaining chip as the maori seats before the negotiations?

  26. Phil 26

    The semantics of the policy seem to be the kicker here – abolish Maori seats once treaty claims are settled (By 2014?).

    sounds to me like a sensible approach to tie the two together.

  27. Felix 27

    vidiot are you advocating a one-party-state?

    If so, there’s really be no need to overhaul electoral law…

  28. vidiot 28

    Felix – not a one party state, just one where the vast majority of voters get truly represented in. None of this the party that can cobble together 50.1% of the voter support wins crap, hell that’s FPP mentality.

  29. Santi 29

    Attack on democracy? My backside!

    No reason to have parliamentary seats based on race (SP, were you a supporter of apartheid?).

    Maori should be able to run for Parliament on equal terms with any other New Zealand citizen.

    About time this anachronism is abolished.

  30. Bill 30

    Felix, vidiot

    Jenny Shippley proposed the idea of a Lab/Nat coalition. It was an ‘off the cuff’ remark shown on TV a few years back but never pursued by the media.

    Was it an outrageous idea or merely an acknowledgement that for all intent purposes we already live in a one policy, two party state?

    Both parties adhere to the neo-liberal economic doctrine and differences lie only in the delivery. (Labour merely softens the edges.)

    A Lab/Nat coalition would be do-able, except that the façade that we live in a democracy would be gone. Therefore it’s not going to happen.

    Anyway, on topic, that policy reads like a big ‘gimmie’ to the Maori Party on first read. A fair bit of it suggests autonomy in a number of areas, which is what Hone Harawira was arguing for in his interview with Gordon Campbell over at Scoop. It’s probably worth reading that interview in conjunction with the policy release for a bit of added insight.

  31. gobsmacked 31

    Look, everyone knows what the Maori seats policy is. It’s a “Taiwan game”.

    Taiwan is, officially, the government of China, according to Taiwan.

    They will never try and implement this policy (suicide). They don’t scrap the policy (domestic politics). They just nod and wink, and the world gets the message, and so Taiwan and China trade and go to the Olympics and all that, while the fiction remains that there are two governments of China, which nobody believes.

    National have kept their policy, and won’t implement it. That’s all.

  32. Felix 32

    vidiot,

    While I agree with bill that your idea would be a more honest way of doing what already happens, I want more representation for everyone – not just the majority.

  33. DS 33

    >>>Both parties adhere to the neo-liberal economic doctrine and differences lie only in the delivery. (Labour merely softens the edges.)<<<

    That “softening of the edges” represents the difference between the the Employment Relations Act and the Employment Contracts Act, between minimum wage increases and no minimum wage increases, between the rebuilding of economic infrastructure and letting it rot, and between interest-free student loans and charging interest on students while they are studying.

    Anyone who makes the claim that “Labour and National are really just the same” has rocks in their head.

  34. burt 34

    Repeal the Electoral Finance Act and run a referendum on MMP. Yep that’s crazy stuff. Imagine not having partisan electoral funding laws and letting the people decide what election system they want to use – madness – it will never catch on and Labour wouldn’t dare copy a policy like this…..

  35. MikeE 35

    National’s real attach on Democracy is their EFA complaint by Pansy Wong’s team against Kenneth Wang in Botany Downs.

    So much for the Nat’s supporting freedom of expression during and election.

  36. Rex Widerstrom 36

    Draco T Bastard: I kinda like your idea, but then again I don’t, because as you’ve said there’d be no way for anyone to ever get elected unless they were in some party or other. And I personally believe that 120 (or whatever number) independents would produce better law and better outcomes than any mix of parties ever could.

    But under your proposed system I guess those people willing to take each decision on an “as it comes” basis, consulting with those who elected them and not simply sticking to spport or opposition to a proposal because “their” party says they should, could form a party – the No Preconceived Ideas Party maybe. It’d still be imperfect though, because I think voters deserve to have someindication of the way their politicians think before making their choice.

    But if we started from opposite ends of the spectrum but with the same end in mind – better democracy – I think we’d devise something infinitely better than a system that’s seen Alamein Koopu, Ron Mark, Gordon Copeland and other shining examples of itelligent accountable leadership get themselves “elected” via the back door.

  37. Very good points made by Burt.

    Labour just doesn’t want to lose control.

  38. Draco T Bastard 38

    And yet, Brett, it’s National that are proposing an electoral system that would make it far more likely that they would be able to govern alone.

  39. Bill 39

    DS

    “That “softening of the edges’ represents the difference between the the Employment Relations Act and the Employment Contracts Act”

    As I’ve said before, the ERA left the balance of power ridiculously tilted in favour of the employer. Industrial action is severely prescribed…(or is that proscribed?)and the whole employer/employee relationship has been bureaucratised which is an environment foreign to almost all workers, but one in which lawyers and bosses operate well. Bottom line, the ERA is not a remarkable improvement on the ECA.

    “between minimum wage increases and no minimum wage increases”

    But the min wage increased only when it appeared that low paid workers might be getting uppity…it’s a containment strategy, nothing more.,

    “between the rebuilding of economic infrastructure and letting it rot”

    I don’t know what you mean by ‘economic infrastructure’…but water and electricity infrastructure have deteriorated.,

    “and between interest-free student loans and charging interest on students while they are studying.”

    Which challenges the ‘user-pays’ ethos how?

    Anyone who thinks that Nat and Lab hold meaningfully disparate political beliefs has a head full of broken bottles.

  40. randal 40

    Everybody here thinks that somehow we have sovereignty and direction of our own affairs. get real. New Zealand is still an “area of recent settlement” and coupon clippers in the first world are still fleecing us. Everything in New Zealand is done on the cheap…for a quick example think Auckland Harbour Bridge. Our academics are low paid and everything else is supplied by the lowest bidder. Meanwhile we are like little tin gods in our antipodean paradise. National are involved in stripping capital and Labour in creating it. You have to decide who you stand with and then do your bit and stop bleating on blogs!

  41. Draco T Bastard 41

    Randal:

    Everything in New Zealand is done on the cheap

    Couldn’t agree more especially since the Rogernomics financial revolution of the 1980s. Everything since then has been about cutting costs and boosting profit. This has resulted in needed work not being done as well as they it be (power, telecoms) and the overall deterioration of our society due to increasing poverty levels.

  42. MMP is just a bad system.

    I dont see how a party with only 5% of the vote, can dictate who becomes government.

    It goes against the wishes of 95% of the population.

  43. Anita 43

    Brett Dale,

    In what sense do they determine who becomes government?

    If 11 people have to decide between a picnic and a movie, and 5 say “movie” and 5 say “picnic” and the remaining one say “um… picnic” so it’s 6-to-5 and the have a picnic, who determined how the group would spend the afternoon?

    I can see three options

    1) The final person, cos they tipped the scale
    2) The six people who chose a picnic
    3) All eleven people, because they chose the process

  44. randal 44

    SOK ANITA… when bd read the bible he never got passed the chapter on Moses!

  45. Draco T Bastard 45

    Brett Dale:

    I dont see how a party with only 5% of the vote, can dictate who becomes government.

    They can’t dictate it – they can only negotiate it. Something that you’re obviously unfamiliar with.

    Really Brett, all you seem to be complaining about is democracy and your complaint seems to be that it’s not a dictatorship.

  46. Phil 46

    Anita,

    If 11 people have to decide between a picnic and a movie, and 5 say “movie’ and 5 say “picnic’ and the remaining one say “um picnic’ so it’s 6-to-5 and the have a picnic, who determined how the group would spend the afternoon?

    If Winston is involved, he’d say he wanted the picnic and the movie. Then, when asked by a mutual friend how he spent the afternoon, he’d deny ever being involved in the activites or the decision making process. When one of the other 10 offer a contradictory story for Winstons whereabouts, he would then claim that the others were conspiring against him and that he wasn’t ever actually their friend in the first place.

  47. Ari 47

    Phil- Yes, but that’s where the analogy breaks down slightly as you have to remember that hundreds of thousands of people voted for the man who said “umm… picnic”, then said he wanted both, then was never involved in the decision and claimed conspiracy when confronted with truth.

    Remember, when we ultimately have to ask who’s responsible for a politician who gets elected despite being dodgy in a previous term, the answer needs to be “The stupid buggers who elected that sly little fox, not to mention said fox themselves.”, not “anyone who ever even slightly facilitated their involve in decision-making, even in the name of democracy, fairness, and the process of fair and non-partisan trials.”

    And that’s coming from someone who thinks Winston is one of the worst politicians ever to disgrace the current Parliament by lying in it, AND thinks Helen Clark is being uncharacteristically stupid in defending the blighter.

  48. Just for the fun of it, how’s this for an attack on democracy.

  49. higherstandard 49

    Thanks Eve,

    After reading the comments section in the link you posted I can only conclude that most there are some extremely odd people in the US.

  50. hs,

    I hate what is about to happen to the US and if you just read the mainstream media you can find out about what’s to happen here and I do so because I like people and I have a lot of American friends who are in peril but honestly, when the shit comes down it will be my pleasure to say to you,”I told you so” you sad wanker.

    Just google “martial law US” for the rest of you and find out.

  51. higherstandard 51

    Eve dear I would hardly say the sites that you link to are mainstream media.

  52. Actually it is these days HS,

    More than 80% of all Americans believe their government did not tell them the truth about 911 and over 50% want a new investigation.

    This site and its show is read and listened to daily by millions and millions of Americans and people around the globe while “Mainstream” media is tanking left right and centre.

    Alex Jones has people like Willy Nelson, Jesse Ventura, Col. Bob Bowman, Martin Sheen, Chuck Norris, Ron Paul, Kucinich, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McCinny, Ex-assistent treasurer Paul Craig Roberts under Reagan, frequently call in.

    In fact if he says he wants to speak to someone on his show they call him not the other way around. If senators want to get a word out to the people they call him because the mainstream media is censored and that includes the left and the right.

    He is what you might call the voice of the underground and that HS, is about the entire US under and middle class against the super rich 1% upper class.

    In fact if Alex Jones were to call for a revolution (which he doesn’t, god bless) it could get very ugly in the US. Especially after the power and money grab of those 1% super rich this week.

    Actually the financial inequality in the US resembles very much the state France was in in the days preceding the French revolution especially when the pending financial collapse will continue to unravel the “American” way of live.

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