Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Oh no...please not National!
In MMP, you get to have two ticks when you vote, one for the candidate or person that you want to represent your electorate, and the second for the Party that you would like to see in parliament. Since the Maori Party was established in 2005, the majority of our voters had split their votes between us (Maori Party - electorate candidates) and the Labour Party (Party vote).
I understand why many of our people did this, a vote for their preferred person, and a vote for their preferred government.
So it is with interest that I read this article in today's NZ Herald on Maori support for the National Party increasing - and to be honest, I am a bit concerned. It was not that long ago (like last election, and the two before that) that National campaigned on an anti-Maori platform, wanting to get rid of the Maori seats, and what they termed 'preferential treatment for Maori'.
Have they changed? In my opinion - no, they have not.
You might then ask, why National did not deliver any of it's anti-Maori promises? Well, the answer is simple - because the Maori Party asked them not to. In the relationship agreement between the Maori Party and National it stipulated that over this last term of parliament, the Maori seats were not to be removed. The Maori Party have also spent the last three years, educating the National-led Government on the needs of Maori, and also about how 'non-threatening' we are as a people.
Strange, but true.
The Maori Party has always been different to both Labour and National. Over the last three years, they have worked from inside the Government to get things done, to defend our rights, to stop things that encroach on our rights, and to produce positive outcomes for our people. They have also been doing what we as Maori always do - and that is 'educate' the uneducated on Maori issues.
That has been the real contribution that the Maori Party has made in this last term of Parliament.
So, obviously, I get really annoyed when people paint us as "being in bed with National" or "chumy chumy" - because the reality of the situation is very different. Our agreement stipulates that we had to vote for the Budget, but on most other Bills we had our independence.
I also think that people don't realise that not all decisions are made through 'votes in parliament'. Many decisions are made in Cabinet. This is a different dynamic again, its not a 'put it to a vote' type of situation, and there is of course a hierarchy, of which the minor Party's are at the bottom. (So I am of the view that the strategic thing to do, is to increase your number of minority representatives in order to increase their bargaining power in this forum.)
Our Co-Leader/Ministers were able to particpiate in these discussions - but the cost of that is 'towing the line' on some issues. This is HARD, but.....you get more out of the process at the end of it. Of course our people have not sold their souls, but they are keeping the big picture in mind - bide your time, until the right opportunity arises to make your move.
So it disappoints me that the polls are looking like National will have a huge majority over everyone else. Because, if it comes to it, they will rule on their own, and they will rule with a puritanical and unbridled power - or in other words - no one will stop them (like we did) from doing what they want.
Same goes for Labour in my view (at least National stab you in the front, Labour are well known for pulling the rug out from under you - e.g. foreshore and seabed, cutting Maori funding Manaaki Tauira, and a number of other 'targetted' Maori programmes).
So if you can whanau, think about where you place your Party vote this year - the Maori population is so small, if we keep voting for the majority parties - our rights will always be vulnerable.
P.S. Just a reminder (if you made it this far down) that I am number 2 on the Maori Party list :-)