Saturday, August 13, 2022

NZCPR Newsletter: Message to National

Two recent public opinion polls had some good and bad news for National. The bad news is their support has softened.

Monday night’s 1 NEWS Kantar Public Poll showed National sliding two points to 37 percent, and Christopher Luxon falling 3 points to 22 percent in the preferred prime minister ratings.

The good news is that National could form a government with the support of ACT, thanks to their jump of 4 points to 11 percent.

With Labour losing 2 to 35 percent – its lowest level for five years – and the Greens losing 1 to 9 percent, along with the Maori Party, steady on 2 percent, Jacinda Ardern’s potential coalition sits on 44 percent, while National’s moves ahead to 48 percent.

The bad news gets worse for Labour. Jacinda Ardern’s ranking as preferred Prime Minister is continuing to fall, down 3 points to 30 percent – her lowest rating since before becoming PM.


Apart from ACT, the other big winner in that poll was New Zealand First which increased 2 points to 3 percent.

The 1 News poll is consistent with the Roy Morgan poll published a week earlier. It had National falling 4 points to 35 percent – its lowest rating on that poll since January. This put their chances of winning an election with ACT behind an alliance of Labour, the Greens, and the Maori Party.  

The biggest gain in that poll came from the Maori Party, which increased 2.5 points to 4 percent – its highest support since April 2010. The analysis suggests some of Labour’s strong support from younger women has moved across to the Maori Party, lifting their support amongst 18-49-year-old women from 3.5 percent to 9 percent.

Could it be that Jacinda Ardern’s agenda to empower the iwi elite has ended up building support for the Maori Party, instead of Labour? How ironic that would be if her sacrificing of our democracy ended up harming not only New Zealand, but Labour itself?

National also lost support from women, with some of the older women they had won back from Labour after the 2020 election, returning to Labour.

When searching for a reason behind the fall in National’s support the pollsters pointed out that, “Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has built her leadership on being the person New Zealanders can trust to deal with challenges as varied as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Christchurch shooting. If Christopher Luxon’s missteps in recent weeks result in people distrusting the National Leader and questioning his honesty, or the honesty of the team around him, he will come under renewed scrutiny as an alternative Prime Minister heading towards next year’s election.”

But there’s a much deeper reason for National’s decline in the polls. The honeymoon of hope and expectation around the new leader has subsided. Some will be disappointed with Christopher Luxon’s impassive stance on a number of issues – but particularly Labour’s attack on democracy through co-governance.

New Zealanders had hoped National’s new leader would take a firm position defending our values and our record of being one of the longest standing and most successful democracies in the world.

Instead, he has tip-toed around the issues, seemingly afraid of creating controversy and negative press.

This is a key reason National is losing voter support to parties not afraid to confront this issue: ACT rose 4 percent and New Zealand First 2 percent in that 1 News poll – their support coming at the expense of Labour, National and the Greens.

This is also the conclusion reached by former ACT leader Richard Prebble in his latest Herald article when he says: “Unlike Luxon, David Seymour used his party’s annual conference to clearly state ACT’s rejection of co-government and support for liberal democracy’s one person, one vote. It is why ACT is rising in the polls.”

He predicts that if National steps up and defends our democracy and values from Labour’s attack, he will win the next election by a “landslide.”

If National does not step up the question is, how much support will they lose?

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is strongly opposed to co-governance and is scathing about the self-interest of Labour’s Maori Caucus in promoting this elitist agenda: “The push is coming from the increasingly out of touch Labour Maori Caucus and only serves their own self-interest, trying to compete with the Maori Party in a race to see who can produce the most separatist policies to appease a certain Maori elite. They do not represent the views of Maoridom – the majority of whom are not even on the Maori roll, and for good reason.”

ACT leader David Seymour is also clear on the need to defend democracy: “The idea of co-governance is incompatible with democracy. No society where people have different political rights based on birth has ever succeeded… The Labour Party is obsessed with the Partnership State, putting the Treaty at the heart of everything. We will need to remove the constant references to the Treaty from the law and replace it with a commitment to liberal democracy. One person, one vote, and equality for all in a multi-ethnic nation state.”

Labour’s latest attack on democracy came in the form of the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngai Tahu) Representation Bill, which allows Ngai Tahu to appoint an additional two members with full voting rights onto a council that already has two existing Ngai Tahu advisors.

In the Third Reading debate on the Bill, Labour not only boasted about trashing ‘one person, one vote’ democracy, but Tamati Coffey signalled the law change could open the floodgates for other tribal groups around the country: “Ngai Tahu have opened the door… all of those iwi out there that are struggling with how representation works for them, I hope that they’re understanding that this is a potential pathway.” 

The bill’s sponsor, Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene​, claimed the Treaty entitled Ngai Tahu to the seats: “This bill is about the evolution of our Treaty partnership and representation of iwi at the local government level. Ngai Tahu are entitled to this representation because that is the promise of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and this is a modern-day expression of that promise.”

But he’s wrong.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Gary Judd QC explains how proponents of the Treaty ‘partnership’ deception – that underpins the whole co-governance agenda – are deliberately misconstruing a Court of Appeal decision:

“They put up the smokescreen of Treaty obligation, and distort the Court of Appeal’s 1987 ‘lands’ case where the Court, having been forced by Parliamentarians who would not do it themselves, to determine what was meant by ‘principles of the Treaty’ drew on principles of partnership law to hold that Treaty principles required the Crown and Maori to act toward each other with good faith, fairly, reasonably and honourably when dealing with known or foreseeable Treaty claims.

“Ideas of constitutional partnership or co-governance never featured in the case. Nor could they, for the Treaty is perfectly clear, in both the Maori and English texts. Governance was given to the Crown alone, and in exchange, the tribal leaders and the ordinary people of New Zealand were assured continuing ownership of their property and were guaranteed protection and equal status with the British settlers under British law.

“The Court of Appeal would not suggest an absurd departure from the words of the Treaty, and did not do so.”

Retired Judge and Canterbury University law lecturer Anthony Willy concurs: “In no legal sense does this ‘lands’ case decide that that there is a partnership between Maori and non-Maori and any later case which purports to rely on the dicta of Cook J is to misconstrue the reasoning on which the case is founded.”

He is categorical: “Maori and the Crown are not partners in any sense of the word. It is constitutionally impossible for the Crown to enter into a partnership with any of its subjects. The true position is that the Crown is sovereign but owes duties of justice and good faith to the Maori descendants of those who signed the Treaty.”

He also reminds us that not only did the ‘Treaty of Waitangi’ not qualify as a ‘true’ treaty at international law, but that, like all historic agreements, it has expired.

As former Chief Justice Prendergast found in the case of Wi Parata v Bishop of Wellington, the Treaty was already considered a “constitutional nullity” in 1877.

Isn’t it time all political leaders recognised that truth, so New Zealand can finally move on?

Labour is attacking our democracy using a well-orchestrated public propaganda campaign.

Jacinda Ardern has used taxpayer funding to ‘buy’ media silence. One of the key  requirements for those receiving funding from her $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund, is that recipients not only acknowledge the partnership lie, but ‘actively’ promote it: “Actively promote the principles of Partnership, Participation and Active Protection under Te Tiriti o Waitangi acknowledging Maori as a Te Tiriti partner.”

When Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz allegedly used public money to buy favourable media coverage for his party’s policies, he was forced to resign. Surely that’s not too different from what’s happening here.

The point is that a fabricated treaty ‘partnership’ is being used to justify the transfer of control of major public resources and services from the Crown to private sector multi-million-dollar business development corporations run by iwi.

The financial rewards for the tribal elite running these organisations are eye watering.

In the case of Three Waters, neither the Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta nor the Prime Minister has ruled out iwi being able to charge royalties for the use of water. That would result in untold millions of dollars pouring into tribal coffers on an on-going basis.

And when it comes to further local government reforms, Labour is considering giving iwi co-governance control of all district and regional planning, along with resource management consenting – no doubt creating lucrative tribal income streams, even though the vested interest conflicts would be significant.

It’s no wonder that Labour has engineered as little media scrutiny as possible over its co-governance deception. But it remains an appalling situation to have New Zealand’s Fourth Estate effectively gagged by the Government over matters of such crucial public importance to our country’s future.

However, even if the media are not digging into the details, to his great credit, the Auditor General is. He pointed out the glaring lack of financial accountability in the model proposed for the Maori Health Authority, and now he has discovered that financial accountability for the proposed new Three Waters structures is virtually non-existent.

In his Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture in 2000, former Prime Minister David Lange was not only dismissive of partnership claims, but he warned the government to “draw back” from where the Treaty industry was taking the county – or lose the chance ‘to build a more cohesive society and a more productive economy’: “The result will be a fractured society in which political power will be contested in ways beyond the limits of our democratic experience.”

Sadly, this is exactly the situation New Zealand is now facing.

As our main opposition party, National needs to not only step up, but to also consider decisive action along the lines of that taken by leaders in many other countries, including Sweden, Austria, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, and Fiji, when faced with similar escalating division within their societies – namely, removing all references to ‘race’ from their Statute books.

The reality is that under the cover of the Covid pandemic, Jacinda Ardern is dismantling our democracy, one law at a time – without any mandate from New Zealand voters.

And the bottom line is this: if National truly believes in democracy, in the principle of democratic representation – one person, one vote – they must take the lead and fight for our future. If they don’t, it will be to their own – and our country’s – detriment.  

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*Do you believe National is doing enough to defend New Zealand democracy and values from Labour’s attack?

Dr Muriel Newman established the New Zealand Centre for Political Research as a public policy think tank in 2005 after nine years as a Member of Parliament. The NZCPR website is HERE. We also run this Breaking Views Blog and our NZCPR Facebook Group HERE

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