The Maori Party is threatening to leave the government over the asset sales legislation removing the companies’ Treaty obligations under the SOE Act. Key knows their threat is hollow. He just got away for 3 years of insulting Maori and worsening Maori statistics – only one Maori Party MP walked away. Why would this term be any different? Why would Sharples and Turia take a pay cut and lose their limos for their last few months working before retirement?
Knowing that the Maori Party isn’t going to leave the government, now consider Key’s strategic imperatives. He knows the Maori Party is dying and their votes will head left in 2014, so he won’t waste political capital on Maori this term. The votes National needs for another term are Pakeha conservatives/reactionaries. What better way to get some of them onside and less angry about asset sales than make it into a Treaty issue?
Expect more sound and fury amounting to nothing from the Maori Party. And expect Key to be very ‘relaxed’ about that.
Meanwhile, if Labour wants to actually get in the game some time this year (rather than staying awkwardly silent on major issues and following the news with 5-hour late press releases) it should be having a look at the SOE Act itself. In particular, section 4(1)
(1) The principal objective of every State enterprise shall be to operate as a successful business and, to this end, to be—
(a) as profitable and efficient as comparable businesses that are not owned by the Crown; and
(b) a good employer; and
Private companies aren’t required to consider their communities or be good employers. So, what are the consequences for New Zealand and New Zealand workers if our power companies and the owner of our biggest coal reserves no longer have to take into account the impacts of their actions on New Zealand as a whole.
Our land, our energy reserves, and our power systems will stay in New Zealand ownership, managed in the interest of New Zealanders with Labour. National is happy to see them flogged off and serving only to fill the pockets of foreign owners. Quite a line, I would have thought.