Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Bryce Edwards: NZ Politics Daily - 24 January 2024

Top 10 “NZ Politics Daily” stories today

Below are some of the more interesting and insightful New Zealand politics items from the weekend and this morning.

1) The Government has announced it is sending a military contingent to assist the US-led operations in the Middle East against the Houthi rebels. And unlike many similar defence deployments in the past, this doesn’t have bipartisan support, with the Opposition strongly disagreeing with it – see Katie Scotcher and Anneke Smith’s NZDF deployment to Red Sea has 'shades of Iraq', Labour says

This article also quotes security and foreign affairs academics who challenge the decision to deploy. For example, the article says: “Otago University international relations professor Robert Patman also said the deployment could be interpreted as New Zealand shifting its weight behind the United States. It contradicts New Zealand's voting record in the UN general assembly, Patman said, having twice supported calls for an immediate humanitarian truce or ceasefire in Gaza.”

2) The Democracy Project’s Geoffrey Miller provides his analysis today. And here’s his conclusion: “It is hard to overstate the significance of New Zealand’s new military deployment to the Middle East. The troop numbers are small – but the potential ramifications are enormous. Wellington is drawing a line in the sand. And it could be the beginning of the end for New Zealand’s independent foreign policy” – see: New Zealand’s huge shift in the Middle East

With the National Party and NZ First’s announcements that they are unlikely to support Act’s Treaty Principles Bill beyond going to a select committee, the Herald’s Derek Cheng explains today that the bill is going through an unusual but futile process – see: Treaty of Waitangi principles bill appears to be dead before it’s even written (paywalled)

Here’s the key part of Cheng’s analysis: “Usually the public gets to have a say on a bill during the select committee stage, and the committee then releases a report with any recommended changes, along with whether the bill should proceed. Politicians then reconsider their stance on the bill; it’s not uncommon for the process to unearth something they were previously unaware of. So, yes, killing the bill before that process has even started seems somewhat premature, especially if the killers are also some of the initial backers.”

He explains David Seymour’s strategy: “The Act leader wants the national conversation - facilitated by the committee - to convince both National and NZ First of the merits of the referendum that the bill is a precursor for, especially if public sentiment is forcefully in favour of one. And even if that doesn’t happen, he’s hoping that his idea of what the principles should be in contemporary New Zealand will resonate enough to consolidate Act’s share of electorate support - or even expand it – regardless of how repugnant it may be to Māoridom.”

4) Although in the public debate most academics seem resolutely opposed to defining the Principles of the Treaty, political scientist Grant Duncan writes today in favour of the exercise in principle, if not the exact formulation that Seymour has come up with. He argues that the current principles, as vague as they are, come from a judicial interpretation of the Treaty, and these could do with being clarified by public debate – see: Seymour trumps Luxon with Treaty card

Duncan parodies those who say the Treaty principles are already clear: “Lots of people on social media, however, are evidently sure that they already know what the principles of the Treaty are. They say it’s all in te Tiriti, or it’s been sorted out in the courts, or it’s all in the heads of ‘experts’. If you don’t already get it, then apparently you need to be ‘educated’.”

Here's Duncan’s conclusion that the principles could be decided upon without resorting to a referendum: “Eventually the select committee should produce a report. But political leaders across the House look unlikely to negotiate – even in broad terms – any wording that would settle a matter that’s divided the country for so long. There are, at least, some points that all parties seem to agree on: the Treaty is a founding document in the country’s constitutional history; it forms a basis for compensation for past injustices. Beginning with those points of consensus, the political parties could devise a general framework of ‘principles’ that would work for a majority of Māori and of non-Māori – and even be passed into law. I believe it can be done, and that we’re underestimating ourselves if we insist it’s impossible. But, given the worsening polarisation, it’s very unlikely to happen for the time being. Instead, expect more trouble.”

5) Expect to see more protest against the Government’s exercise to clarify the principles. In the Far North, Ngāti Kahu representative Wikatana Popata is announced that his iwi will physically prevent the annual Doubtless Bay Fishing contest from going ahead this weekend, “in response to the Government’s proposal to abolish Te Tiriti O Waitangi” and because the event organisers haven’t “didn’t bother” to consult the iwi – see Avneesh Vincent’s Doubtless Bay Fishing contest and auction to go ahead despite Far North iwi opposition

According to this news report, the contest which has been going for 40 years and is apparently “licensed by the Ministry of Primary Industry” will be blocked: “Popata said all boat ramps and beach access points in the area would be blocked off by iwi to stop the contest from happening in their ‘tribal territory.’ ‘Their ignorance is a form of racism that we have been dealing with for a long time. They forget that we are the mana and the authority over all our lands and waters’.” Notably, however, Ngāti Kahu chairwoman Margaret Mutu disputes that the iwi are in agreement on this.

6) Back in 2020 a boat exporting sheep from New Zealand sank, resulting in the deaths of 41 crew and nearly 6000 cattle. The Government then implemented a ban on live animal shipments by sea. The National Government has been lobbied to overturn that ban, which it says it will do this term. But RNZ investigative journalist Guyon Espiner has discovered that the lobby group Livestock Export New Zealand (LENZ) is raising money in order to make sure the Government follows through – see: The $1m PR and lobbying campaign to overturn livestock export ban

Here’s the key detail: “A LENZ strategy document says it needs $1 million to ensure the ban is reversed. The document says LENZ will spend $366,000 on a ‘trust and understanding’ campaign, $100,000 on media training advocates and nearly $200,000 creating a ‘gold standard’ for animal welfare. LENZ says it will also spend $160,000 on ‘political lobbying and legal fees’. The document shows LENZ is on a fundraising drive and says financial contributions ranging between $2000 and $50,000 have already been received from vets, trucking companies and farmers.”

7) The $19bn Wage Subsidy Scheme is in the spotlight again, with further questions about how well the Ministry of Social Development has managed the mass distribution of money to businesses during the pandemic. Journalist David Williams has uncovered more evidence to suggest that the government department responsible for administering the scheme has been less than rigourous in dealing with evaluations and integrity checking – see ‘Lackadaisical’ response to wage subsidy super-review

It turns out that MSD commissioned Deloitte to look at how well the historic and ongoing administration and reviews of Wage Subsidy Scheme, but its recommendations appear to have been largely ignored. University of Canterbury tax researcher Dr Michael Gousmett sums up MSD’s approach to lessons that were being highlighted in official reviews: “let’s move on and forget about what might have gone wrong.” Signs that the scheme had been rorted complaints about “huge wealth transfer to corporate New Zealand” appear to be put in the too-hard basket. However, given the new Government is promising “a full scale, wide-ranging, independent inquiry” into how Covid was handled, there’s hope that the truth will come out about whether the billions spent on businesses that didn’t need it could have been better managed.

8) Yesterday, the Herald’s Simon Wilson came up with a “code of behaviour” for political debate: “Don’t gender your criticism; Don’t call anyone cockroaches, vermin or animals of any kind. They’re people; Don’t talk about killing or harming others. Even as a joke; Call out bad behaviour. Maybe do it with humour” – see: Golriz Ghahraman shoplifting allegations: Empathy, accountability and abuse (paywalled)

9) Today, political commentator Liam Hehir has come up with The one thing missing from Simon Wilson's column (paywalled). Hehir argues that although he agrees with Wilson’s list, the most crucial way to deal with increasingly toxic political debate is police the bad behaviour of your own side or political tribe, rather than concentrating on policing your opponents: “There is often a reluctance to condemn abuse hurled at adversaries with the same fervour as that reserved for defending allies. This selectivity does not always manifest itself in an actual defence of the abuse. Silence can speak volumes. All too frequently the champions of civility are simply missing in action when the abuser has aimed at the right target. The social enforcement of good behaviour is all about peer pressure. Left-leaning journalists, for instance, have little influence over right-wing trolls. The words of right-wing commentators fall on deaf ears when addressed to left-wing trolls. Yet the language of reproof can make a difference when aimed within one’s own ranks.”

10) TVNZ’s National Correspondent has “set himself the task of leading the Resistance” to the new conservative government according to veteran journalist Karl du Fresne. He argues that such partisan and advocacy journalism is a big problem for a state broadcaster – see: The John Campbell question

Dr Bryce Edwards is a Policy Analyst in Residence at Victoria University of Wellington, where he runs the Democracy Project, and is a full-time researcher in the School of Government. This article was originally published HERE.


Allan said...

I believe that most New Zealanders are ill informed about the letter written by Maori chiefs, asking the British Crown to bring law, order and stability to this country. This "Colonisation" was by invitation.
They believe the Treaty to be the founding document because that is probably the only truth they have been told. How many people know of the Letters Patent, which separated New Zealand,reffered to in that document as New Zealand, from NSW and set up a constitution and legal system. The Letters even gave map references of the new country.
Before anyone is asked to decide anything, are we not entitled to have all of this well documented information brought out into the open, not squirrelled away somewhere in the hope that some inconvenient truth can be kept from seeing the light of day.

Anonymous said...

The Tiriti o Waitangi was only 1 of 6 Documents that made New Zealand into a British Colony with a Governor and Constitution that set up New Zealand’s political, legal and justice systems under one flag and one law, irrespective of race, colour or creed. Governments have completely ignored the other 5 documents that have allowed the Tiriti o Waitangi to be manipulated and mis-interpreted never intended by those who signed it in 1840. The Six Documents are;

1. Letter from the 13 Ngāpuhi Chiefs – 1831. The government ignores the letter the 13 Ngāpuhi chiefs wrote to the King of England asking him to be their guardian and protector. This letter shows Maori were in trouble and needed British protection, not only from themselves, but they were afraid New Zealand was about to be annexed to France.
2. Declaration of Independence – 1835. The government ignores the Declaration of Independence that was a complete failure as the chiefs could not form a united body to claim sovereignty over New Zealand. A fact ruled by Chief Justice, Sir James Prendergast in 1877, “No political body existed capable of making cession of sovereignty.
3. Queen Victoria’s Royal Charter – 1839. The government ignores Queen Victoria’s 1839 Royal Charter/Letters Patent that placed New Zealand under the dependency of New South Wales. Britain could not have placed New Zealand under the dependency of New South Wales if Maori had sovereignty over New Zealand.
4. Tiriti o Waitangi – 1840. The government ignores the fact, the Tiriti o Waitangi only asked the Maori chiefs to give up their governments (Tribal control) to Queen Victoria in Article 1. Article 2 guaranteed both Maori and Pakeha the rights to their lands, settlements and property, and Maori could only sell their lands to the Crown at an agreed price. Article 3 made Maori British Subjects with the same rights as the people of England. No more, no less, no Partnership, and definitely no Co-governance, but since the Tiriti o Waitangi was signed, its Maori words have been continually mis-translated to give Maori special rights over all other New Zealand Citizens. As Attorney General, Sir Geofrey Palmer stated on the ABC in 1990, “It is, now, a document that is so vague and unclear, that is its primary problem”.
5. Queen Victoria’s Royal Charter – 1840. The government ignores Queen Victoria’s 1840 Royal Charter/Letters Patent that separated New Zealand from New South Wales dependency and made New Zealand into a British Colony with a Governor and Constitution that created New Zealand’s Legislative and Executive Councils and granted authority to Governor Hobson to make laws. Without Queen Victoria’s 1840 Royal Charter/Letters Patent, New Zealand would have remained under the dependency and laws of New South Wales.
6. First Sitting of the Legislative Council – 1841. The government ignores the First Sitting of the Legislative Council in 1841 that set up New Zealand’s political, legal and justice systems under one flag and one law, irrespective of race, colour or creed.

Until we force governments to recognize these 6 Documents that made New Zealand into a British Colony under one flag and one law, irrespective of race, colour or creed, the Tiriti o Waitangi and the history surrounding it will continue to be rewritten giving Maori special rights and privileges never intended by those who signed it at Waitangi on 6 February 1840 with the words, “He iwi tahi tatou – We are now one people”, before being taken around the country and signed by over 500 chiefs.

There is no other document in New Zealand’s history that comes anywhere near to a true Founding Document and first Constitution than Queen Victoria’s Royal Charter/Letters Patent dated 16 November 1840, but we must not ignore the other 5 documents that made this possible.

For copies of these 6 documents, log onto: Researched by: The One New Zealand Foundation Inc. Est: 1988. (Copyright) 3 January 2024.

Allan said...

Also relevant I believe is Sir Apirana Ngata's explanation of what the Treaty means.