Snake oil

Written By: - Date published: 1:16 pm, August 25th, 2009 - 15 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack, democratic participation, john key, local government, maori party, Maori seats, national/act government, same old national, slippery - Tags:


I’m surprised that the Maori Party have rolled over so easily on the issue of Maori seats on the Auckland council. I will be even more surprised if the Maori people follow suit. Because they have every right to be angry. Remember what Key said of the Hikoi?

The hikoi was sparked over the dumping of the Maori seats from the Auckland super city proposal – in contrast to a Royal Commission recommendation. Mr Key was asked on TV One’s Breakfast show what he thought about the protest and the disruption it would cause.

“Obviously people have a right to protest and we respect that,” he said. “(But) I can’t help but wonder if they are a little bit ahead of themselves.” The right forum to raise concerns was through the parliamentary process, he said. The select committee soon to start looking at legislation setting up the council would consider the issues raised by the protest, Mr Key said. It would look at the governance structure, how councillors were elected and issues around Maori representation.

“I don’t think the hikoi of itself will make any difference really…we are going to go through the select committee process, that’s not a white wash we are actually going to listen to what happens there. We are trying to work on getting an outcome that works for everyone.”

What complete and utter bullshit that turned out to be. John Key snake oil of the most patronising and lying kind. The people who trusted John’s word just got shafted:

Ngati Whatua spokesman Ngarimu Blair has criticised the Government for not allowing democracy to run its course. He said Maori had followed the democratic process – going through a Royal Commission which recommended Maori seats, then going through the select committee where Mr Blair claimed 90 per cent of submitters had supported Maori seats. Yet the Government had made a decision on Maori seats before the select committee process was finished.

“We have participated in the democratic process and done everything we were asked to. We are disappointed that the crown didn’t hold up its end. All that we can ask is that they at least follow their own processes.” But he said Ngati Whatua were glad they at least knew the Government’s views now rather than continue a “masquerade” of consultation.

Before the select committee process was even finished. That’s not a even a white wash, it’s just naked contempt.
— r0b

15 comments on “Snake oil”

  1. Onehunga 1

    Yes, I agree that announcing this decision before the select committee process ended was not a good look at all.

    I’m not sure if you are quite fair in your portrayal of Key on this issue though. The leaked email about National’s internal debate shows that the decision was far from a whitewash. The announcement of the decision was probably more due to the leaked email than out of some contempt for democracy.

    • Bright Red 1.1

      Bollocks. Of course the select committee process was a white wash. Does anyone seriously think that there were ever going to be Maori seats?

  2. bobo 2

    Key is fast becoming a cop out prime minister looking weak and uncomfortable, arguing that having Maori seats on the supercity is not consistent with the rest of NZ when he knows full well of the tribal representation on the current council and separate Maori electorates by his own logic should be cut next.

    Also they have the arrogance to chop lesser populated parts of the Auckland region off to cut down on any maintenance costs, let Dargiville pay for it..

    As much as I like dislike Tau at least he is shit stirring a bit with Rodney which is a risky thing being a list MP. I can see this getting ugly fast.

  3. Ianmac 3

    Today in Question time Key said “we did listen at the Select Committee but that doesn’t mean that we have to agree with what is said.”

  4. johnsa 4

    It is interesting, to say the least, how so many agree it is OK to radically change Auckland local bodies without having a clear mandate and democratic process in place.

    The result of the Royal Commission was a foregone conclusion because these commissioners were selected to do a job and they deliver precisely the decision that was required of them.

    You would think such a fundamental change to governance would need a referendum.

    Maori have the balls to get out and protest while the rest of the population lies down to get shafted. But remember the Maori party are pragmatists and have as few scruples as their National and ACT partners. Yes they embrace PPP and carve ups of public property – as long as they get their cut. Meanwhile everyone else gets quietly fleeced.

    The point I make is, where is the democratic process for all New Zealanders when a minister of a minority coalition partner suspends democracy so he can bulldoze dictorial local body “reforms”?

    It sickens me to see how compliant everyone is in allowing such a rotten process to be foisted on Aucklanders and eventually the rest of New Zealand.
    That ain’t democracy.

    Meanwhile we just had our first “Trans-Tasman cabinet meeting’ naturally enough coupled with a big cigar business meeting. Who voted for that?

    • Bright Red 4.1

      normally, there would be a referendum, it’s in the Local Government Act but National has avoided that.

  5. Rex Widerstrom 5

    Wouldn’t it be great if there could be a huge “Listen to the People” protest at Parliament, urging Key to heed Select Committee processes and referenda outcomes? But the Police would need to fence off two halves and the groups would end up doing more shouting at one another than at their arrogant government.

    I’m not being a smart-arse here… ironically, this government’s actions on last weekend’s referendum results and the whole “supercity” fiasco, coming as they do back-to-back, provides a rare opportunity for an across-the-lines message to politicians that people are sick of being ruled over like they’re in some feudal system which gets to choose between Kings and Queens once every three years.

    If the anti-Bradfordites and the anti-Hideistas could just accept that demanding their right to be heard while denying the same thing to the other camp was intellectually dishonest and pathetically partisan, then there might be some hope that the ruling classes got the message that people have had enough of being patronised by faux democracy that consults, then ignores.

    • r0b 5.1

      The difference being of course, that in one case what is being ignored is a Royal Commission, a Hikoi, and a select committee (the standard mechanism of democracy) which the PM promised to heed. In the other case it is a single appallingly leading referendum question (compare with a non leading question) from which no conclusions can be drawn and which the PM long ago indicated he would ignore.

      Not all causes / processes are created equal Rex.

      (Love to stay and argue but prob. gone till near midnight)

      • Rex Widerstrom 5.1.1

        Not all causes, perhaps, but all consultation processes in a democracy deserve to be accorded respect, or changed or abolished — not capriciously ignored when it suits.

        Find me a perfect democracy and you’ll have discovered utopia. A referendum in which 1.4 million people expressed an opinion could equally be argued as “more equal” than a Select Committee / Royal Commission process which attracted the opinions of a fraction of that number.

        Point is, they’re both accepted mechanisms within our democracy. If we don’t like the way they’re operating (and I certainly don’t like our referenda method or legislation) then we need to change it, not pick and choose the bits of our democracy we want to heed simply because we agree with their outcomes and reject others because we can draw assumptions (and that’s all they’ll ever be) about how people were thinking when they voted.

        • r0b

          Not all causes, perhaps, but all consultation processes in a democracy deserve to be accorded respect, or changed or abolished

          In the way that the Weatherstone case made obvious the flaws of the “provocation” defence (which will likely be abolished), this referendum has made obvious the flaws of the citizens initiated referendum process (which will likely be changed or abolished).

          not capriciously ignored when it suits.

          If the question had been a balanced, sensible question than I would agree with you. But you can’t varnish a turd, which is what that question was. Ignoring it isn’t capricious, it’s the rational thing to do.

          A sensible question would have got a different result – this is not just whinging – have you read the “non leading question” article linked to above yet? Draw any conclusions?

          Hypothetical. What if some of the tax cut fanatics (that used to be so plentiful just a year ago) had got a million dollars in funding from fundamentalists in America and organised a referendum. The question: “Should the government be able to steal money straight out of your pay packet and give it to unmarried mothers for smokes and lotto”? The result: an 88% NO vote. Would you be here arguing that the government should listen, and do away with personal income tax? Because, translating back in to the real world, that’s pretty much what has happened here.

          • luva

            Just out of interest what do you think the sensible question should have been?

            • r0b

              Just out of interest what do you think the sensible question should have been?

              How about “Should repeatedly beating a child as part of a violent temperamental outburst be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”.

              Nah just kidding, that question is as bad as the one that was asked.

              I’d suggest something based on the neutral question that I have linked to several times above: “Do you agree with the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act?”.

  6. Nick 6

    Calm down everyone, you’ll get your chance to have a say properly in 2011. The Left is just pissed off that it’s sidelined in this process, that’s all.

    And to that I say: diddums.

    • Armchair Critic 6.1

      Nah, the 2008 election was the best one to lose (if losing an election is ever good) since about 1987, or 1990.

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