The first wobbles


This week we have seen the first wobbles in the National-led government’s stability. They are not big wobbles, but they are wobbles. And like all wobbles – they can go only one of two ways – grow into bigger wobbles until something falls off, or subside away.

The issue causing the wobbles is whether or not to have Maori seats on the new Auckland Council. The royal commission said yes. The government initially said no. The Maori Party said it wanted them. The PM said he was open minded. Act said it was strongly against.

National is the decision maker here. It could vote with Act to not have Maori seats or it could vote with the Maori Party to have Maori seats. Either way it has a majority in the House.

The problem is that National itself is divided on the issue. Its traditional stance has been to oppose Maori seats. Its initial response was to say no. But a leaked e-mail from Tau Henare to his caucus colleagues makes clear there are some National MPs who do want Maori seats. The great concern for the National leadership will not be so much that there is a disagreement in caucus. With 58 MPs, they probably don’t unanimously agree on whether the sky is blue, let alone most political issues.

The concern is that an e-mail that was between MPs only was leaked to the media. That is a sign of a lack of discipline, and the public (and the polls) have a history of turning on parties than are undisciplined and fight in public.

The leaked e-mail revealed that the Act Leader and local government minister had threatened to resign if National decided to include Maori seats in the Auckland Council Bill.

Now it transpired that Hide had only said that he would resign as local government minister, not from his other portfolios. Hence the threat to government stability is relatively minor. In fact one can have some sympathy for his position that he can’t remain local government minister if he doesn’t support a government bill in his portfolio.

Nevertheless, the fact this position has been publicized, does damage the Government and make John Key’s job harder. If National announces no Maori seats, it will now look like caving in to pressure from Act, rather than merely sticking to its original policy and decision.

Act also suffers from the publicizing of the leaked e-mail. The major parties get very grumpy if their minor partners are seen to have too much power or influence. Now when it happens behind closed doors it is less of an issue, but by playing itself out in public the result maybe that the next time Act wants a “win” for National, it will find it considerably harder.

The bigger damage may be to the relationship between the party leaders. Up until now it had been very warm. This year saw Pita Sharples speak to a National Party conference and Tariana Turia to an Act Party conference, with both receiving much applause.

Now we have Tariana Turia saying that Rodney has resorted to playing the race card. I think that is unfair on Rodney as he was not the one who leaked the National Caucus e-mail – I doubt he is that happy this has been made public. But my view doesn’t matter so much as the view of the Maori Party.

The Maori Party has made it clear this issue is not a deal breaker for them. And Act has also said it will not threaten the confidence and supply agreement. But the possibility of the leader of a confidence and supply partner resigning his major portfolio – or even resigning/losing all portfolios as Radio NZ suggests could happen – is a pretty big dent in the stability of a government.

It is clear from the leaked e-mail from Tau Henare that the majority of the National caucus were not favouring Maori seats – because if you had the numbers you don’t need to send such e-mails to your colleagues.

The leaking of the e-mail is not going to change the decision to not have Maori seats. Its only effect will be to damage the government and make it easier for Labour to attack the decision as forced on the government by a party polling 1%, rather than merely a continuation of current National Party and government policy.

A serious own goal that could have ramifications well into the future.


20 · Got a question about this story? Leave it in Comments & Questions below.

This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags

Post Comment

20 Comments & Questions

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

All it shows is a lack of leadership really. This is not a new issue, and should have been sorted out long ago. It is and always was a John Key decision. He should have made that months ago (in fact did so). This should have been the government line, no ifs and buts.
Indecisiveness leaves little cracks, and those become large cracks when the opposition gets the opportunity to start prying. If Henare indeed leaked an internal email, he should be fired forthwith.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

If we are to have race based seats like Maori then lets not stop there, we need some Asian (more Asians than maori in Auckland anyway so they have a bigger claim on any race seats) ones and some African ones not to mention Island ones... yep lets just give them all one and make the council the tax payer funded lemon it will it will turn into.
Boy every day this place starts to sound more like Sth Africa!
wake up you lot - ONLY seats are for those that represent all of us not ANY minority!

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

I agree with the dimmocrazy. Get rid of Henare. All seems a bit familiar, doesn't it.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

John Key has an 'open mind' on creating a divided NZ society? Get a backbone, John. And quickly.

Maori seats are a step down the road towards a split citizenship; those who get on and make their own lives, and those who supposedly can't and need special privileges.

Pita Sharples is a fool. The only solution he has for his constituents is to tilt the playing field. Why so little faith in Maori, Pita?

One person, one vote, John.

cheers

Malcolm

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Why don't the Auckland Maori show abit of pride and belief. They managed to organise a large march on this issue. Why can they not show the same strength and put up a few good candidates , organise their voters with the same zeal and get them voted in.I'm sure this issue has galvanised people enough already to ensure they'd get people voted on the Council. They'd get pakeha votes as well. Pita Sharples keeps going on about mana -- start showing some

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

National have been wobbling ever since the election, on most issues. Rodney is now starting to right the ship.

Also, Tariana spoke to ACT's 2006 conference. It was John Key himself that spoke at this years.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

There are token maori seats on many council/committees throughout New Zealand. But the incumbents rarely turn up. In fact one council I was on had an appointed maori represenative we never ever saw. That operson received minutes and copies of correspondence but never responded on any issue. So what's the point?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Is it Rodney Hide, who is trying to prevent seats based on "ethnicity" (please define), or Tau Henare and Turiana Turia who want to impose seats for Maori Only on a multi-cultural city?

Which position will lead to greater racial discrimination?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Is it Rodney Hide, who is trying to prevent seats based on "ethnicity" (please define), or Tau Henare and Turiana Turia who want to impose seats for Maori Only on a multi-cultural city?

Which position will lead to greater racial discrimination?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

The sooner we are all Kiwi's the better- none of us were alive when all the bad decisions were made- we need to get over them and move forward as one people-

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Goodbye Tau -

find yourself a party you can support - although you have tried all the others, except the Greens.

You will need a job come 2011

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Agree with Malcolm, now is not the time to sit on the fence John, make a decision and stick by it. You're never going to please everybody, goes with the territory, but not making a decision or claiming open mindedness doesn't help anyone. The decision should be no.

If Maori want representation then get them voted in just like everyone else will have to...Ross is bang on...

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Sign a new Treaty with us, we'll cut the Maori colonialists out of the picture and forego the right for separatist arrangements in exchange for academic recognition of our pre-Maori status.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Moriori... shouldn't you just accept that when Helen Clark was asked this question she replied "well if Auckland University say that the Maori are indigenous that's good enough for me"? OF COURSE NOT. Good luck in your quest my friend!

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hey there fellow-Kiwis! Us NZ'ers of Maori extraction are not all Labour-led victim mentality drop-kicks. Good on JK for realising this. Together we can build a non-separatist NZ based on success, mutual appreciation and shared history.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

The posting by Ross says it as it really is. The message being imparted seems to be that Maori are too thick to get into gear and organise good candidates-THEY ARE AVAILABLE- and that is not fair to Maoridom. Don't accept being regarded as being second class and unable to get off your butts. it is wrong and Pita Sharples should be offering guidance by showing you all leadership and strategies. Do you all think the Asians won't get into gear and put up candidates?Think how many seats you could actually get if you did it the real way?? More than 4 !! COME ON PITA-SHOW LEADERSHIP AND HELP YOUR PEOPLE MOVE FORWARD. THEN TALK ABOUT MANA-When it has been rightly earned! Come on good potential Maori candidates-step forward and show us what you are made of.....PLEASE.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Pita Sharples and his MP's IMHO need to show some leadership and recognise that by not demanding to have Maori seats on the new Auckland supa council, would actually garner them respect.

The royal commission may have said yes, but this was always going to cause division. Pita’s job is to get out there and encourage his people to have a go at election time. Mary is right.

John Key must stop his "moon walking".

As Margaret Thatcher said "If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at anytime, and you would achieve nothing.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Any insistence on councillors being appointed based on race is racist. Tariana Turia and Tau Henare are playing the race card.

Rodney Hide is saying 'No' to race being a factor in the council formation.

How on earth is that playng the race card?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Does all the comments on TAU indict him as being a maverick politician,or the enemy within.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

I have yet to read any convincing argument for 'racist seats' in any governing body. This is 2009, NOT 1840.
Every resident of NZ has had the same opportunity for education for the last 80 years or so; the fact that some didn't take advantage of this oportunity, and now feel disadvantaged is their own fault.
This puts them in a self inflicted situation; they should learn to live with their mistakes.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Post New comment or question

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.7269 -0.0001 -0.01%
AUD 0.9575 -0.0009 -0.09%
EUR 0.6392 -0.0021 -0.33%
GBP 0.5673 -0.0001 -0.02%
HKD 5.6705 -0.0007 -0.01%
JPY 81.3270 -0.2510 -0.31%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1246.9 2.870 2017-06-27T00:
Oil Brent 46.7 0.820 2017-06-27T00:
Oil Nymex 44.2 0.870 2017-06-27T00:
Silver Index 16.6 0.020 2017-06-27T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 7626.4 7629.1 7626.4 -0.02%
NASDAQ 6227.9 6234.3 6247.1 -1.61%
DAX 12586.1 12588.8 12671.0 -0.97%
DJI 21411.2 21440.6 21409.5 -0.46%
FTSE 7434.4 7434.4 7434.4 -0.57%
HKSE 25735.2 25821.4 25840.0 -0.61%
NI225 20149.2 20224.3 20225.1 -0.47%
ASX 5714.2 5757.3 5714.2 0.73%