Dec 12, 2011

On the Maori Party deal with National

Despite taking a hit, the Maori Party has signed up for another three years with National. The two parties have signed a confidence and supply agreement as well as a new relationship accord. The agreement differs from the last in that the Maori Party can vote on an issue by issue basis (except on matters of confidence and supply, for example the budget). Obviously, this gives the Maori Party room to oppose asset sales. However, as much as the Maori Party would like to distance themselves from asset sales, and the government’s larger agenda for that matter, the party is still going to be tainted by association.

The agreement includes the establishment of a ministerial committee on poverty, chaired by Bill English and deputy chaired by Tariana Turia. With English at the helm I doubt the government will dismiss the committee in the same way Act’s economic taskforce was ignored last term. The Maori Party needs to reclaim Maori poverty from Mana (Mana owned the issue last term) and bust the perception that they favour the symbolic over the substantive. Having said that, with the government committed to returning to surplus the next three budgets will probably be zero sum. With that in mind the committee will just be a flash vehicle for reshuffled funding and, as a result, just another symbolic win for the Maori Party.

The agreement also includes an undertaking to shift the focus of Te Puni Kokiri (TPK) towards jobs, education and housing. Again, an attempt at making substantive gains, however, again, the win is weak. It is difficult for many Maori, if not most, to connect changes in TPK to real world gains. I think this particular policy is more about protecting TPK. TPK was, I think, first in line for cuts this term. However, with an increased and broadened focus I doubt the government can cut staff and funding without crippling the agency and undermining the Maori Party. Then again, when has that ever stopped them.

The big announcement is the retention and expansion of whanau ora – the Maori Party’s trophy policy. A stand alone commissioning agency, whatever the hell that is, will be established and funding for rheumatic fever will be doubled to $24m, 20,000 more low income homes will be insulated and work will progress on iwi providing social housing. The Maori Party’s re-election strategy revolved around whanau ora so no surprise to see the above. The rheumatic fever funding is, in my opinion, a huge win for the Maori Party. For example, in Tai Tokerau rheumatic fever was the dominant health issue and many voters were calling on their MP, Hone Harawira, to address the problem. Of course, Hone was and is in no position to do so – he actually had to point to work done when he was a member of the Maori Party thus undermining his decision to split from the party. The home insulation win is neither here nor there. Iwi providing social housing is not new, but with government backing we should see proliferation.

Overall, a good deal for the Maori Party. The party is free to oppose the government on all issues except confidence and supply. This should, in theory, lead to a more independent image this term. In other words, it’ll be hard to accuse the Maori Party of being the National Party’s proxies in the Maori electorates. In terms of policy gains, I’d give the Maori Party 6/10. Nothing to set the world on fire, but nothing to complain about either. The challenge for the Maori Party will be to distance themselves from National’s agenda and destroy the perceptions created last term. For example, the perception (or reality some say) that the Maori Party sold Maori down the drain with the MCA Act, ETS, GST, ACC changes, the 90 day law and so on while only winning symbolic gains like the TRT flag over the harbour bridge. The symbol over substance argument.  


  1. All little off-topic here but somewhat relevant all the same.

    Interestingly, the new PM of Greece is a banker while Italy's new replacement for Berlusconi is - you guessed it - a banker. It's just a matter of time before a banker leads every country because we all know they're the best types of self-serving people to lead countries, right?

    Key will allow the World Bank to dictate policy here because Key - who came out of nowhere (obscurity - even within the National Party, leaped over more well-known, senior and deserving member) is a puppet installed by the financial elite. He has been told to get everything ready for sale, foreclosures and rocketing interest rates.

    Don't be surprised if sales include Kiwi Bank and the newly acquired Rail system. And they won't be going to New Zealanders. This is what pisses me off about some whites and their hypocracy and myopia: They jump up and down about manufactured fears about being denied access to beaches yet do bugger all about sales of similar assets that belong to us already.

    Yes, that's what this privileged Jew who spent most of his time overseas has in mind for us.
    Power in the hands of the few (or representative democracy) makes it easy for this happen with bribes here, blackmail there, backhand there and golden handshakes all around. Aristotle knew this.

    Yup under democracies, every white, brown, yellow and black man has his price. The head of a country will sell his country to the devil if the price is right; a general will betray his own army if the price is right. This is why it's difficult to bribe a king, emperor or a dictator (that you haven't installed yourself). And this is why the US is so keen on imposing this bullshit form of democracy.

  2. The Maori Party was free between 2008 and 2011 to oppose the government on all matters bar confidence and supply. Nothing has changed.

    Point us to something in the 2008 document that means they had to vote for various things BAR C and S.

  3. Nothing, but they still did. ACC changes, ETS, MCA act, 90 employment law - the list goes on. What this document does is explicitly state that the Maori Party are free to oppose all other issues minus c and s, read asset sales. This document is about clarity

  4. Kia ora Morgan, When it comes to asset sales; if the Maori Party actually vote against them they cannot take place. Do you believe this will actually happen or will they simply abstain?

  5. So what makes you think, Morgan, that the Maori Party will assert their right to vote against government bills this term, when they didn't last term? What's changed?

  6. Kia ora Hone. Asset sales will go ahead with or without Maori Party support. The Party has signalled they will not support the sales.

    Kia ora Hugh. The Maori Party lost a seat, dropped 1% (half of their support) and Te Ururoa and Pita were almost victims of a massive swing against the Maori Party in their electorates. Labour's Rino Tirikatene, who toppled Rahui Katene, put his win down to Maori dissatisfaction with the Maori Party's deal with National. With that in mind, the Maori Party will attempt to distance themselves from National and vote against "anti-Maori" legislation. They, arguably, didn't do that last term.



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