Monday, September 29, 2008

Chris Trotter needs to be informed before writing tripe on the Maori Party

Chris Trotter should stop writing about the Maori Party. It's obvious he sees the party as a threat to his beloved Labour Party, and wants to portray the party as dangerous coalition partner because he is finally aware that it prefers National.

Yet he has no idea what the Maori Party wants, if his Sunday Star Times column today is anything to go by. In his column, entitled "What is Maori Party up to?" Trotter breathlessly revealed that the Maori Party does not want a coalition partner, but a "treaty partner" - but that's old news as Pita Sharples said that three weeks ago. Trotter obviously missed that, but he still doesn't know what kind of a "treaty partner" the Maori Party wants.

Trotter also opined that the National Party is "firmly convinced" they will be able to secure a coalition with "Tariana Turia's party" after the election. Trotter's wrong there too. He maintains that if numbers are tight, National will promise to revisit the Foreshore and Seabed Act. He's wrong there, too, as the Act is getting lower in the list of priorities - it is certainly not in the top four. Actually "guaranteed an ongoing participation by Maori within the parliamentary system at the table, not just an advisor , but at the table", is the top priority according to Harawira. Trotter said that a seat at the cabinet table is not guaranteed as voters determine that.

He's wrong there too. The Prime Minister determines who "sits at the table". Actually, what Trotter doesn't like is that the Maori Party may well determine who warms the seats in the cabinet room if it is in a position to chose whether Labour or National gain power and Trotter is worried it will be National. The Maori Party knows a cabinet post is not guaranteed and Trotter is naive to interpret Harawira's comment in this way, when clearly, it is the participation that is guaranteed.

Finally, Trotter comments that Maori Party president Whatarangi Winiata said that the Maori Party form the "tikanga Maori House" in Parliament. Winiata said on National Radio this means that the "partners respect each other and the decisions they come to are not determined by a head count"[ audio here]. Trotter interprets that as the Maori Party intending to exercise a form of veto over the Government based on the veto that the Anglican's "Tikanga Maori House" has over the Churches General Synod. In other words, acting undemocratically.

Trotter's wrong there, too. As Professor Winiata says here, a Tikanga Maori House is nothing of the sort. It is merely a group of Maori MPs represented by the Maori caucus. His comments can be interpreted as decision by consensus, not majority.

So back to the heading 'What is the Maori Party up to"? Trotter didn't answer that because he clearly does not have a clue. Perhaps it would be good for him to understand the distinction between tino rangitiratanga and mana motuhake.

That would be a good start.




Blogger Steve Withers said...

No one party with a handful of MPs can "veto" anything. If parties comprising a majority of MPs also do not want a measure to pass, then that isn't a minority holding undemocratic power, but rather the democratic majority asserting itself.

September 28, 2008 at 9:20 PM  

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