Friday, March 25, 2022

Caleb Anderson: Democracy and Co-governance - Antithetical Concepts

Last night's television news item on the issue of co-governance was interesting.  When asked by Maiki Sherman for her position on co-governance, the Prime Minister typically gave an oblique response.  Something along the line that  ...  co-governance thus far seems to be working well.  In a subsequent interview, Christopher Luxon indicated a desire to see co-governance defined.  Both comments are worth dwelling upon for a moment.  

While it appears very much as though the Prime Minister is in favour of co-governance, we are still unclear on what she means by this?  There are a thousand points of difference between an iwi advisor on a local council, and allocating to iwi half of the seats in parliament, with a right of veto on all legislation.  Where would she draw the line?  And why exactly would she draw it there?  Why not somewhere else?  That members of her own party seem inclined toward co-governance in the fullest degree possible, would seem to make questions around "just how far" very reasonable questions to ask, perhaps even imperative questions to ask. In fact, it is bordering on dereliction of duty that the mainstream media have not dug around on these issues. 


What the Prime Minister doesn't seem to realize, is that the more she obfuscates and dodges, the more people think her government is up to something.  In reality, I suspect the Prime Minister is well aware of the dis-ease many New Zealanders feel around co-governance, but sees no way around the mixed messaging and doublespeak.

It would be difficult to think of more far-reaching constitutional changes than some of the co-governance scenarios being promoted by the Maori Party and by Labour's left.  The implications of these changes would be far-reaching, and many of the outcomes unanticipated.  Sometimes you don't get a true picture of whether something was worth it until you are picking up the pieces, and things cannot always be wound back.  We should actually show more interest in where co-governance seems not to be going well, than where it is going well.  The government and the media are very good at highlighting the former, while ignoring the latter.  The reason we should look more closely at where co-governance is not going well, is that the downsides, and not the upsides, of change, are always the things that impact most.  At the end of the day, no-one will care if co-governance is working well in 70% of cases, if it is a disaster in 30% of cases.  The downsides will quickly negate any upsides in the mind of the public.  When we are assessing how things have worked, on balance, costs always trump benefits in the public mind because these are the bits that bite.

So what do efforts at co-governance tell us more broadly?  How is this unfolding at the local level, and at the level where most people transact life?  You will never read this in the public media, but the downsides of co-governance are becoming evident to many New Zealanders.  Some parks returned to Maori are now derelict, the public has been banned from beaches in some areas of New Zealand, some mountain walks enjoyed by generations of New Zealanders are now off-limits, gates have been erected on public roads, moved only when council paid to have these re-opened.  Stories abound about kiwis heading to their family bach only to encounter their bach broken into, property stolen, and Maori youth telling them to get off Maori land.  I know of cases where those selling their properties in remote locations are being told by activists that they are to sell only to Maori. I have heard time and again of cases where those managing government funds, directed to iwi, have no idea where the funds have gone, or what they were used for, of people working for organizations with unpronounceable names, driving very nice cars, flashing their business cards etc visiting clients on day one and never again, but still being paid.  I have heard of funds being used in some cases to teach young Maori, not how to turn up to work, but how to engage in effective activism.  I have heard of non-Maori students at tertiary institutions leaving these institutions because of the constant denigration of their viewpoint, and even of their right to have a viewpoint. The point is not whether these are majority or minority instances, and none of this should undermine the critical, and often selfless, work being done by some iwi.  The point is, what might this tell us about where co-governance could end up?  What does it tell us about what happens when an embedded sense of victimhood is coupled with political muscle?

The separation of powers inherent within the Westminster system of government, protection of property rights, the right to a fair trial, application of common law principles, and the sovereign rights of individuals, are things we take for granted, and yet these are historically the exception.  Those who have lived under the Westminster type system of government are among the most privileged generations in history.  The concept that every individual has rights total and indivisible is a radical idea, it is not an accident of history, it is the product of a thousand years of common law, and of bloodshed on many a battlefield.  The sovereign rights (not tribal rights) of each individual make these individuals accountable for their actions, and the state accountable for its actions. The whole concept of human rights is derivative of the very system some of our politicians seem hell-bent on dismantling.  Democracy requires that even the most powerful people are accountable to everyone else, that issues are debated openly in the public domain, that we can rid ourselves of our politicians when we want to, and that no person's vote should be worth more or less than another's.  Human nature is constant, people are often self-interested, and nepotism and corruption are not the exclusive domain of any one group ...  we need safeguards.  The Maori party has called democracy a tyranny.  Well if democracy is the tyranny of the majority, just wait for the tyranny of the minority, it may just be around the corner.

The Maori Party has basically drawn a line in the sand.  Give us exactly what we want, or else.  I guess "or else" means civil unrest and marches on parliament.  Perhaps we can console ourselves that parliament now has experience in managing this sort of unrest.  Refuse to meet with them, legislate under urgency, ensure the media ignores them, or reports on them negatively, politicians can call them rivers of filth to their heart's content, Trevor can turn on the sprinklers and the Barry Manilow music, the police can don their riot gear, and the PM can spout that this is all the product of misinformation.  Yes, parliament knows exactly how to manage this sort of thing now.

Caleb Anderson, a graduate history, economics, psychotherapy and theology, has been an educator for over thirty years, twenty as a school principal

Please note - if you would like to share our Breaking Views posts, please include a link to the original article. Thank you for your cooperation.


Terry Morrissey said...

The PM either has no comprehension of what is going to happen following on from the labour cult’s agenda or she is even more evil than a large proportion of the population realise. I think it is the latter.
You would have to be completely deranged to believe the He Puapua is heading anywhere but tribal rule.
“Perhaps we can console ourselves that parliament now has experience in managing this sort of unrest. Refuse to meet with them, legislate under urgency, ensure the media ignores them, or reports on them negatively, politicians can call them rivers of filth to their heart's content, Trevor can turn on the sprinklers and the Barry Manilow music, the police can don their riot gear, and the PM can spout that this is all the product of misinformation. Yes, parliament knows exactly how to manage this sort of thing now.”
And that would be the last thing that this labour cult is likely to do.
They would start by grovelling, move on to appeasing, then providing millions to assist with legal fees to have the courts find in favour of the tribal elite, but if the courts found against the tribal elite, the government would introduce legislation to suit the claimants.
Any incoming government is going to have a very busy time picking up the pieces. Assuming there is anything left to pick up. The task of repealing all of the racist legislation will keep them busy for a long time.
If Christopher Luxon wants co-governance defined and doesn’t know that it means “the slippery slope to He Puapua and tribal rule” he should not expect to be in any position of influence after the next election.

Doug Longmire said...

The term "co-governance" is an invented word much loved by the obfuscating Labour politicians of today. It does not appear in my English dictionary. It appears to mean "shared management/ownership" or something similar.
What is clear to me is that it is a direct breach of the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi.
The Treaty document in plain words states that the chiefs signing it ceded all sovereignty to the Crown. This was confirmed by the chiefs 20 years later at the Kohimaramara conference 1860.
Any "co-governance" attempt by racist tribal elites is quite simply a direct breach of these terms of the Treaty.

Robert Arthur said...

The maori institutions which clamoured for and received vast race based finances to promote vaccination were notably reserved in condemning the unruly, disproportionately maori, demonstrators outside parliament. I suspect on considered purpose. If such mayhem can be contrived over the near non issue of mandated vaccination, the demonstrators have given a tiny foretaste of the near civil war which will be fomented if anythng significant is attempted. Like abolishing the Waitangi Tribunal, the maori seats, clarifying the Treaty, removing all references to Principles of, scrubbing the use of te reo, abandonment of full immersion schools, the elimination of maori domination of RNZ, applying strict accounting to maori bodies and contracts etc.

Bruce s said...

When Luxon said he wanted "co-governance" to be defined, hundreds of thousands of otherwise National party voters immediately shifted their resolve to vote for and support the Act Party. You do not appease theft from the taxpayers.

Robert Arthur said...

I am uncertain if the Maunga Authority in Auckland is regarded as a partnership or a co governance arrangement, but it is comprised half of Maunga members and half of Councillors. To the extreme irritation of the "other" population, the maori view has totally prevailed. It remains to be seen if the recently successful private prosecution will reign in contemptuous disregard for "others". For most proposed co governance arrangements there would seem to be little or no scope for challenge.