Monday, February 26, 2024

Point of Order: Yes, voters supported the scrapping of the Māori Health Authority......

.....but Stuff reminds us of the Waitangi Tribunal’s role…

Reinforcing the credence of an article posted here last week, Stuff yet again has been promoting the notion that “The Treaty” should over-ride the country’s democratic governance arrangements.

In the article published on Point of Order under the headline Media chiefs struggle to understand democracy, Graham Adams noted that New Zealand is about to be immersed in a highly charged debate about the “principles” of the Treaty of Waitangi and its status in New Zealand’s political life.

Accordingly, he wrote,

… it is alarming to find that Stuff already has a fixed editorial position on the matter.

Stuff’s charter, published in November 2020, states: “We commit to embed the Treaty of Waitangi principles of Partnership, Participation and Protection in the ethics and practice of our business.”

Anyone who is not ideologically blinkered can see that an interpretation of the Treaty as mandating a 50:50 partnership between iwi and the Crown — as it is often defined — is the basis for an ethno-state, not a liberal democracy. Or certainly not a democracy dedicated to equal suffrage based on one person, one vote of equal value. Yet Boucher presumably sees no contradictions in her posing as a defender of democracy.

Adams questioned the likelihood that Stuff will “inform and educate New Zealanders” on the proposed Treaty Principles Bill — which will affirm equal political rights for all New Zealanders irrespective of their ancestry — when it has already adopted an editorial position in favour of the Treaty as a partnership between iwi and the Crown?

He noted that Stuff’s chiefs must have agreed to the criteria for those media organisations wanting a share of the $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF). The first of the general eligibility criteria requires all applicants to show a “commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to Māori as a Te Tiriti partner” — alongside a commitment to te reo Māori.

The section describing the fund’s goals includes “actively promoting the principles of Partnership, Participation and Active Protection under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, acknowledging Māori as a Te Tiriti partner“.

Stuff scooped up $4.8 million of public money, behind RNZ ($5.8 million) and NZME ($6.88 million).

Stuff had an opportunity at the weekend to show it does recognise where the Treaty should sit in the country’s constitutional arrangements.

It might have acknowledged that a majority of voters at the general election last year voted for political parties which campaigned to remove the Māori Health Authority. Those parties have formed a coalition government under the prime ministership of Chris Luxon and have set about implementing the policy which the electorate endorsed.

But hey – can’t the Treaty of Waitangi be invoked to over-ride the will of a majority of voters?

Apparently yes, because a headline on the Stuff website yelped:

Crown set to jump the gun on Māori Health Authority bill

Jump the gun?

Whose gun has been jumped?

And who should be calling the shots?

If you clicked on the link to find the answer, you would have encountered a headline that said:

Government ready to introduce bill to close Māori Health Authority, avoiding Waitangi Tribunal defence

The headline might have said (but didn’t)

Government ready to introduce bill to close Māori Health Authority, to fulfil election promise.

Alas, the general election result and the nature of the mandate given to the coalition government did not rate high in Stuff’s considerations.

Their article highlighted these points:
  • The Government is due to appear at the Waitangi Tribunal on Thursday and Friday, over its plans to close Te Aka Whai Ora, the Māori Health Authority.
  • But Crown lawyers say the Government might introduce its bill to close Te Aka Whai Ora before Thursday’s hearing – thereby removing the Tribunal’s jurisdiction of this issue.
  • Māori health leaders applied for an urgent hearing to protect Te Aka Whai Ora, arguing it’s a vital instrument to improve Māori health outcomes.
The Stuff journalists did record Health Minister Shane Reti as telling Stuff the timing of this bill had nothing to do with the upcoming Tribunal case.

“It simply reflects the 100-day plan concluding by 8 March,” he said.

But that’s further down in the report and the introductory paragraph, in effect, rejects Reti’s assurance by saying:

The Government will jump ahead of legal action challenging its policy of closing Te Aka Whai Ora, the Māori Health Authority, by introducing the bill to do so just two days ahead of an urgent hearing at the Waitangi Tribunal.

Crown lawyers have told the Tribunal that a bill to wind down Te Aka Whai Ora could be introduced as early as Tuesday, the next sitting day of Parliament.

The Tribunal had scheduled an urgent hearing regarding this policy for Thursday and Friday. But it has no authority to consider issues before Parliament, so if the Government does introduce its bill earlier than expected, then it may kybosh this legal challenge.

Only then is Reti reported as saying the timing of the bill had nothing to do with the upcoming Tribunal case.

He said he planned to introduce the bill this week.

While this means the bill would be introduced just before or during the Tribunal hearing, Reti further said there would still be a chance for the Tribunal to assess this issue, after the legislation comes into effect. It was expected to be complete by June.

Labour Party hauora Māori spokesperson Peeni Henare is reported as saying the Government would be acting in “complete bad faith”, if it introduced its bill just days before the scheduled hearing.

Bad faith to whom?

The electorate? Or the litigants?

And then Henare said:

“This is a further breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“We are gearing up for a battle on this.”

This suggests that, regardless of the weight of the electoral support it is given, a government would be smart to wait for anything affecting Māori on its legislative agenda to pass muster with the Waitangi Tribunal before enabling legislation can be introduced to Parliament.

And that – dear reader – is the way Stuff seems to think we should be governed.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton


Basil Walker said...

And Peeni Henare was claimed to be one of the more intelligent of the former Labour party in Parliament .
It really is time to determine if James Shaw ( Greens) actually completed a degree and an IQ test for elected representatives to determine the suitability to represent New Zealand or just to be there to eat at Bellamys.

Anonymous said...

Last I knew, the Waitangi Tribunal is an advisory body with zero direct executive power. It's well past time Parliament put it in its proper place.

And as for Labour, they still don't seem to understand why so many of their long-time supporters, such as me, abandoned them at the last election. My general preference is a bit left of centre, but I'll be spurning all the parties on the left as long as they continue with grossly anti-democratic, race-based policies. Even if they changed their tune tomorrow, it'd be a while before I'd trust any of the left again in a hurry.


Eamon Sloan said...

I shall keep on asking the question. Who are or is the cornerstone investor in Stuff? Also will the coalition renew the Public Interest Journalism Fund?

Anonymous said...

Disturbing trend led by the MSM:

the will of the people ( election results) and Parliament are to be ignored and circumvented.
Bodies such as the Waitangi Tribunal and the Supreme Court ( notably concerning Tikanga) are operating far beyond their remits.

The Coalition must take action on this - voters must lobby government for this.

Anonymous said...

So, ignore democratic process and just push onwards towards the ultimate He Pua Pua goal of an ethnocracy for the privileged 17%. Every day, 2040 gets closer.

It is not hard to see how re-tribalization could easily happen.,,, it is happening already with the robust support of the MSM.

Anonymous said...

It never ceases to amuse me, when the conversation turns to media coverage bias and the name STUFF is introduced into the discourse. That there is any doubt about the partisan agenda of this media outlet should have been settled long before now. This is a company that has traded on its particular biases since its inception as STUFF - a ragtag collection of dying newspapers slung together by a greedy Australian corporation, Fairfax, who, when they saw the writing on the wall, cut their losses and abandoned ship selling their debt for a measly dollar to a demagogue publisher who has taken this organisation to never before seen lows. As one of the parliament protesters said, while being goaded by a Stuff reporter and his sidekick videographer on the final day why he refused to give an interview, “Because Stuff lies!” Says it all, really.

CXH said...

I do agree with Peeni Henare on his claim that The Reo is a Maori treasure that should only be for Maori to use.

Sadly Stuff are not capable of listening and respecting his wishes. Which is par for the course, they know everything and we just need to be re-educated.