Sunday, May 23, 2021

Clive Bibby: Be careful what you wish for!

The government seems hell bent on passing legislation, much of which will benefit only one group of citizens at the expense of virtually all others.

Where does this fit with the mantra that we are all in this together, one group of five million (supposedly equals) or the promise to govern in the interest of all.

It would seem that the PM and her motley crew are scared of their own shadow and worried sick that this is the only opportunity they will get to honour the promises they have made to only a select few of its citizens.

Which is difficult to fathom given the huge gap in popularity between Labour and the Opposition parties apparent in the latest major opinion poll.

Maybe they don’t believe the polls or the interpretation of them by most of the media commentators (including our own Gisborne Herald Editor) who are suggesting that the government are virtually in an unassailable position and will virtually sleep walk to victory next time around.

So why the rush?

I suspect that the response to their recent undemocratic push to ensure Maori wards are introduced in spite of almost universal opposition to the way it was handled, is telling them something that they would prefer not to consider.

I am suggesting that the groundswell of opposition to this contemptuous activity is only just hitting its straps and will grow to the point where people will change their vote once they fully realise the implications of this rush to change the law.

The irony is that all this heavy handed approach didn’t need to happen at all.

The interesting thing about the public response is that, had the idea of Maori wards been dealt with differently, the government could have achieved the same result and avoided the unnecessary reaction that might well sink them at the next election.

And I find it equally ironic that the Tairawhiti electorate, as much as any other, had the capacity to show how it could be done.

Yet, it is probably an indication of the mindset of most members of our Council as well as their political overlords that has rendered them all incapable of appreciating how they could have handled it so much better.

Put simply, if we had been offered a proposal that allowed for an electorate vote on Maori Wards ie. the retention of the previous law based on the claimed need for greater Maori representation in decision making at the Council table, the subsequent reaction to the new legislation throughout the country would have most likely achieved results across the board that most people would find acceptable.

If you look at the overall response across the Nation, it has usually meant an increase of only one ward as a solution to the apparent representation imbalance.

Apart from Tairawhiti, l can see no other community following the path that imposes more than a couple of wards which would have the capacity to undemocratically determine the outcome of the decision making process.

It is clear that our greedy response is not the one favoured by most kiwis who have actually demonstrated their desire to see an imbalance repaired.

May l humbly suggest that there is still time for our Council to rethink its current preferred option and reduce the number of guaranteed Maori wards to no more than two.

Should they do so, l am sure we would see this issue disappear as quickly as it arrived.

The He Puapua report is a different matter entirely.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.

1 comment:

DeeM said...

Although most councils who have introduced Maori wards have created only one, I suspect this is testing the waters and seeing what response they get from their voters at the next local elections. Assuming no great backlash, I would be amazed if it stopped there.
It's no secret that He Puapua wants Maori to have a 50% share of power at national and local government level.
Until the public say enough is enough, that is what the activists will push for and our councils will melt like butter in the sun.