Academic attacks the Maori seats
The Business Round Table has just released a report [PDF] by Canterbury Law Professor Philip Joseph that recommends the abolition of Maori Parliamentary seats.
The Maori Party has responded, calling for the Maori seats to be entrenched. Imagine a system where the Maori seats are entrenched but the Maori roll isn't? That would be silly. But they do make one good point
A strong and independent Maori voice in the Parliament guarantees Maori views are heard, if not heeded, on all issues. That’s good for our people, it’s good for democracy – and it’s the last thing the Business Round Table wantsJoseph argues that Maori seats based on ethnicity have provided effective and proportional representation for Maori and so therefore the seats are not needed.
Yet he does not define what "effective representation" actually is. Is it a Maori bum on a Parliamentary seat? If so, how do we know whether that Maori identifies with the Maori constituency - for example Clem Simich, perhaps; or is effective - think Alamein Kopu.
Joseph appears to think that bums on seats is effective representation as long as it's proportional, which is perhaps why he states that if the Maori Party were to win all the Maori seats in 2008 it "will not make Maori representation any more effective overall". To him, Maori bums on seats in a party that has Maori interests at heart is no more effective representation than the same amount of Maori bums in a opposition party like, say, UnitedFuture?
If a Maori Party were in Government or had the balance of power in certain votes, it is likely that Maori representation would be more effective than in an small non-Maori opposition party, you would think.
Furthermore, the Maori seats are not based on ethnicity - if so why not have Asian seats - they are based on indigenity.
If the Maori seats were removed, we would have no constituent Maori MPs in Parliament, and Maori representation will not be proportional to the population .Joseph maintains that if the Maori seats and roll roll disappear, it is almost certain that there will be more Maori electorate MPs in Parliament.
Of course that's not guaranteed, but Joseph didn't say that.