Labour has finally managed to capture the media’s attention, this time with a full on attack on racist campaigning that the right have been engaged in.
On Wednesday night at the leader’s debate he blindsided Christopher Luxon by reading out something that a New Zealand First candidate said and asked him why he was willing to work with racists.
Luxon stammered around the answer but eventually conceded that what was said was racist.
The NZ First candidate, Rob Ballantyne, is number 16 on their list and is standing in the Rangitata. And what he said is every bit as unhinged as it initially sounded.
Listen to the cheers of those racist voters. They are all enroled and will be voting to remove peoples rights.
We must all enroled to vote against these awful ideas.
Enrol to vote against an NZ First, National Party and ACT coalition of greed and racism. pic.twitter.com/huNdscOjKn
— Spider Hoof (@spider_hoof) September 27, 2023
He is someone whose speech writing licence should be taken off him.
Then yesterday Hipkins gave a speech titled Progressing Together and said this:
But in this election – our unfinished journey towards better; the sense of nationhood we’ve worked so hard to define – is at risk.
That’s not to say we haven’t been in this position before and prevailed.
Political parties have used race-baiting and anti-Treaty politics to divide us in elections.
But even when the polls were down, we as a country stood our ground and held them back.
And in this election we need to do it again.
The National, ACT, New Zealand First coalition of chaos and cuts puts all we have worked for at risk.
And those with the most to lose are Māori and the place of Te Tiriti.
Let’s be honest. When it comes to Māori politics and politicians vying for votes at the election – leaders of the main political parties have generally done one of two things.
First, we have leaders who see anti-Māori positions as vote winners.
They reach out to New Zealanders through one-liners like ‘One system for all,” putting out the narrative that Māori somehow get something other New Zealanders don’t.
This approach plays on some people’s fears.
It’s not pretty, and it’s wrong. It also ignores the facts. Far from being privileged, Māori are over represented on the wrong side of far too many social and economic statistics.
Then there is the second option.
Leaders that play to the middle ground – or in other words keep quiet on Māori issues, make change but put policies under wraps, water down positions for fear of being seen as too ‘pro-Māori’ and losing votes.
It’s depressing that the options seem to be race bait or keep quiet.
I refuse to choose either of those options.
I’ve decided to do something novel, and that’s tell the truth and stick to my values.
I’m going to be open and transparent about why I support a Māori Health Authority, why I believe in Te Tiriti and why I think it’s important to our future that Māori and the Crown work together – and that when we do we are not only at our best as a country but whole new opportunities open up for all of us.
It always gets me that overseas and on the world stage we’re so rightly proud of Māori culture and our heritage.
The All Blacks doing the haka unites us as a nation.
When we see extreme racial injustice in other countries we reflect on how different things are here.
But we can never take progress for granted.
In the first leaders debate Christopher Luxon reiterated his commitment to abolishing the Māori Health Authority in favour of ‘one system for all’.
This type of one-liner may be catchy to some– but it made me angry.
Angry that he simplifies a long battle many have fought to have a health system that finally works for Māori.
Angry that he thinks he knows better than Māori about Māori Health and well-being.
But what is worst of all – it makes me angry that he wants ‘one system for all’ even when that one system fails 20 percent of the population, and has failed them for decades.
It isn’t even one system for all – it’s a worse system for some.
Māori life expectancy is seven years’ lower.
Māori are twice as likely as non-Māori to die from cancer.
Avoidable hospitalisations for Māori aged four and under are higher than the equivalent rate for non-Māori and non-Pacific children.
And around forty percent of Māori are living in the highest areas of deprivation, compared to just over ten percent of Europeans.
These are the facts.
But Christopher Luxon is choosing to continue to deliver poor health outcomes for Māori because it gets a few points in the polls.
That just isn’t leadership.
Winston Peters and Shane Jones have run interference and claimed that Ballantyne’s comments have been taken out of context. I think they are saying that Ballantyne did not say something racist because when he said “we have the cultural mandate to cut out your disease and bury you permanently” he was talking about co governance and not Māori. His speech was peppered with dog whistles. References to sinister Global organisations, proudly saying that all Government departments will revert to English names and that they will ensure one person one vote of equal value are as dog whistly as you can get.
And he was using prepared speech notes, This was not some accidental misspeak.
Peters will not mind the publicity. He has made a career of making outlandish statements that appeal to racists.
Good on Hipkins for calling them out and addressing this directly. And shame on the parties of the right who are willing to seek support by trying to divide us.