On September 28, Key released National’s policy on the Maori seats. It is unequivocal (if light on the details): “At the conclusion of the settlement of historic Treaty claims, National will begin a constitutional process to abolish the Maori seats. National wishes to see all New Zealanders on the same electoral roll.”
Pretty clear. The first thoughts of anyone reading that, of course, is ‘there goes any chance of a deal with the Maori Party’. Not so, Sharples told us. According to him, Key had privately assured him the Maori seat policy would not go ahead without the agreement of Maori: “”I’ve pinned him down. I said, ‘you admit to me that you won’t get rid of those seats until Maori people say yes’ and he said that’s what he would do.”. That contradicts National’s official policy.
During the Leaders’ debate on Tuesday, Shane Taurima asked Key to clear up the matter: “Pita Sharples says that you told him privately that you would not abolish the Maori seats without Maori consent. Now since that you’ve denied saying that, are you calling Dr Sharples a liar?”
Key waffles that he has met with the Maori Party and they don’t like the policy. Taurima persists: “So who’s telling the truth here?”
Key gets that rabbit-in-the-spotlight look and tries to change the question: “But there is no formal agreement”
Sainsbury rouses himself: “Pita Sharples has said you told him privately don’t worry about the Maori seats, we can push that aside. Did you or didn’t you?”
Key: “No that is not correct.”
Sainsbury: “Why would Pita Sharples say that then?”
Key: “Well I think he’s got that wrong, sorry, but he’s got it wrong”
So, Key tries to avoid answering the question – talking about ‘formal agreements’, rather than secret ones – but, in the end, he says Sharples is wrong.
Last night on the AltTV, Sharples bit back: ‘I was saying, you can’t do this and he was saying ‘yes, yes”
So, who to believe? The one who has been evasive on the issue? Who has a record of lying to the public and the media? The one whose first instinct when caught out seems to be to lie? No. Once again, Key has lied to the public and, once again, he has been caught out.