Thursday, July 11, 2024

Donald Foster: The Coalition Government’s Progress

In his 15th May, 2024 pre-budget speech, the Prime Minister asserted that “New Zealanders voted for us last year to do three things – rebuild the economy, restore law and order, and deliver better public services”. 

That may have been his personal perspective on the issue, it may even have been the National Party’s perspective on the issue, but the Coalition Agreement more reliably reflected the electoral issues of concern at point three of the preamble to the agreements between National, Act, and NZ First, which stated “The Coalition Government’s priorities for this term include (in addition to those picked out by the Prime minister and amongst other issues) ending race based policies (and)  defending freedom and democracy, (the latter expanded elsewhere in the Agreement  to uphold the principles of liberal democracy, including equal citizenship and parliamentary sovereignty, the rule of law and property rights), followed by a number of specific steps to that end.

It is to the credit of the prime minister and the coalition partners that the Coalition Agreements were published, and further, that time-related action agendas were publicly issued and updated, but there has been much debate and disillusionment at the choice of priorities.  There is little doubt the last government was voted out for a very wide variety of reasons, but among the most troubling were its promotion of racial divisiveness based on updated interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi, and its scant regard for issues of freedom and democracy.  There was a concern in the electorate, that unless these issues were dealt with urgently and decisively, then the future of this country would not be what our forebears fought and died for in the two world wars, nor indeed what we expected from our political leaders.  Because these issues were tearing our society apart, it was important for the new government to act decisively and quickly to show it understood that the damage must be reversed.

One of the important aids for a government to “take the public with it” or win the hearts and minds of the people is to communicate its policy, and its reasoning, so that the issues can be widely debated and understood.  Traditionally this role was facilitated by the media representing the fourth estate, but that role has been abdicated, and the media continually attacks the government as if the previous government’s ideology was the gold standard and nothing the current government proposes is worthy of support.  The parlous state and standards of the media were well identified in a Mediawatch survey published in April 2024 where trust in media was shown to be at all-time lows, and 87% of those surveyed who did not trust the news said it was “biased and unbalanced”, while 82% said news reflected the political leaning of the newsroom, and 76% regarded news as “too opinionated, lacking in actual information”.  In the case of the taxpayer funded media there is no excuse for the government not to have done something about this.  While we would expect the government to support the right to free speech we are also entitled to have a balance in the ideologies of those reporters dealing with political issues, and the “experts” and commentators they select to interview.  The taxpayers voted the last government out.  They do not want to continuously only hear the last government’s ideological perspective on the current government’s policy.  It may not have occurred to the media that taking steps to offer balance may in fact attract back some of its lost patronage. It is also a missed opportunity for the government, and action to balance that bias should help what can only be described as a disgraceful state of affairs.

The electorate clearly voted for the coalition to ditch the path to ethnocracy being pursued by the previous government and return to a democratic society and the Rule of Law.   It is time to deal in a practical way (such as proposed by the referendum on Treaty principles) with the “invented” Treaty, as Dr. Elizabeth Rata refers to Treaty ‘developments’ that have blossomed since 1975 - aided and abetted by Maori radicals, the Waitangi Tribunal, activist judges, and others - and while the coalition government has made some important progress on some of this agenda - for example, restoring the right to local referendum on the establishment or ongoing use of Maori wards - other progress on that agenda has been less clear.  For example, the Three Waters legislation has been revoked as promised, yet the Te Mana o Te Wai provisions appear to be left in place.  How did that happen?  Or the Fast Track Approvals Bill, despite all the coalition agreement rhetoric about ending race based policies and promoting equal citizenship, is loaded with racial references and rights.  How did that happen?  There are other issues that should be simple and quick to put into effect where delays are simply adding to the problems to be faced.  For example, the effects of judicial decisions in relation to the Marine and Coastal Areas Act where activist judges have clearly ruled against the intent of Parliament, simply requires under coalition policy that the intent of Parliament be made absolutely clear to the judiciary to prevent that issue getting out of control.  Why hasn’t that been done on an urgent basis?

The change back to principles of democracy has to be fully put into effect in this term of government. Any concessions made against that policy only encourages further erosion.  Since ACT and NZ First have both been clear in their Coalition Agreements on these issues, it has to be assumed that delays in progressing this agenda and problems with implementation of related policy as outlined above, fall at National’s door, and in particular, Mr. Luxon’s door.  As far as the future of this country is concerned, there is nothing more important than restoring democracy yet this appears to be at the low end of his priorities, and we on track to miss getting enough done to provide hope for the electorate and to stop the exodus of our best citizens to finer pastures.  His position on the Treaty referendum proposal, made clear after the striking of the Coalition Agreements, tells us all we need to know about where democracy ranks on his agenda.   This issue has to be faced and dealt with by the coalition partners.

Donald Foster is a retired company director.


Anonymous said...

A good analysis. National has been prevaricating on this for years - and it is fast losing them votes. Remember the 2021 campaign under Collins "Demand the Debate" against He Puapua? Shut down in days.

Democracy stands alone as the key issue - but also relates to law and order.

For clarity, perhaps a future referendum should read simply:

Do you want democracy ( equal citizenship) or ethnocracy ( superior rights and privileges for one ethnic group) as NZ's form of government?

Anonymous said...

Well said Sir! Nationals decision on the Treaty Principles Bill may well decide their future in the next election. If, as they have said , they don't support the Bill when it comes back from select committee, I predict NZ First and Act will be the winners in 2026, and National will be the losers. As you have said, the voting public want to bury these race based divisions we have in this country and get NZ moving forward again

Anonymous said...

Christopher Luxon should read your blog Donald. He ignores the will of the voters at his peril. Unfortunately by not making it abundantly clear that all NZer’s will be treated the same and there will be no Māori veto on issues or Māori given preferential treatment, nothing changes. That a person can be exclusively Māori because they feel it is an affront to their majority heritage.

AlanG said...

100% agree with this. The biggest issue by far facing this country is where we are headed with race relations. If this isn't addressed head-on with courage, then everything else - law and order, the economy, education, health etc will suffer, good people will continue to leave and NZ will be a poorer and poorer place to live. Luxton should take note of what happened in the UK elections. Pursuing a path of least resistance, where you try to avoid offending anyone, is just weak and ineffectual and leads to loss of support. However, in this case, that support is likely to swing over to Act and NZF. The next election will be interesting. The mainstream media though - how do you deal with that? It's blindingly obvious how one-sided they are.

DeeM said...

We all know who is dragging the chain on co-governance. Luxon principally, and a good chunk of the National Party as his cheerleading team.
The Fast Track Approvals Bill is a real slap in the face for Coalition voters.

As far as dealing with the media, NZFirst, aka Winston Peters, has been the most outspoken....yet they have supported the recent Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill which will see the Left-obsessed MSM potentially scoring money from online platforms (this very likely won't achieve the outcome, as seen in Canada). Go figure!!!

A real mixed bag with some positives on the face of it, but as yet no concrete replacements for us to judge whether promises have been kept.
Got to say that I'm not very hopeful.

Anonymous said...

Donald, great analysis and points. I hope Mr luxon and team are working furiously behind the scenes to restore this poor countries battered reputation.

DeeM, I agree with you, the coalition media bill even had Willie Jackson seal of approval so you immediately pretty much can be assured it's not good for this country and certainly will play against the centre empowering the far left even more.

Anonymous said...

PM Luxon does not have the cajones to address the issue that is dividing our country. It was clear from the outset his priority was to secure the top spot at all costs, in order that he could mix it more readily with what he would term other 'A listers' - just as he likes to see himself. As a narcissist, he clearly is not the leader this nation needs and the sooner he is replaced, the better. Unfortunately, while National remain the predominant party, there is no obvious choice for his replacement. Our faith must therefore lie in the coalition partners to do the heavy lifting and force his soft, self-indulgent hands.

Anonymous said...

Hard to disagree with any of this or with any of the following comments. I know plenty of traditional Nats very disappointed for the reasons stated above and likely to shift their votes next election. And yes, NZ First's stance on the digital media bill does not seem to match Winston's rhetoric prior to the election. And yes, we could see a similar shift as that seen recently in the UK but with MMP delivering a quite different outcome .. maybe National does need to be purged of its own ethnocentrists and perhaps soon will be the time.

Doug Longmire said...

Very clear and accurate analysis, Donald. And many comments above also (AlanG especially)
Luxon needs to read the (real) room, down here in New Zealand, not the 9th floor locked up boardroom.

Anonymous said...

You have absolutely nailed this Donald. Anyone who wants to see an organisation supporting democracy with action should check out the NZTaxpayers Union website.

John Porter said...

You have absolutely nailed it Donald!
The longer this government is fearful of confronting, head on, the issue of “favouritism due to race,” the further race based preference is afforded, via legislation, to a small section of our society, the closer New Zealand is to ruination through a system of government based on tribalism, the closer New Zealand will be to serious civil disorder and New Zealand, as we once knew it, will no longer exist!

As Dr John Robinson so accurately states – “No nation can prosper when one sector advances at the expense of another.” “History shows that divided societies fail.”

Messers Peters and Seymour. So much depends on your decisions in this term of your government. Do not let the people who put you in power down and most importantly, do not let New Zealand down!
Mr Luxon is doing so and it is at his and his party's peril.

Remember, elephants and voters have long memories!

Anonymous said...

Donald, spot on! John Key and the awful Finlayson perpetuated the rot, and then Key added more fuel to the fire by promoting Luxon as his willing helper. God help New Zealand.

Anonymous said...

Both Luxon and Biden are so totally intransigent to what is expected and demanded of them.

I can forgive Biden to some extent as probably his medical condition is driving his determination to stay in office.

But Luxon ?
Why is being deliberately mute on the biggest issue facing NZ - the destruction of democracy by Labour ?

And don't pretend that the issue isn't real and urgent.

Anonymous said...

Donald has hit the nail on the head - brilliantly put - the only problem, how to get this into Mr Luxon's obdurate grey matter?
Prior to the election '23 we specifically asked our prospective (now incumbent) MP Grant McCallum this:
"We recently came along to the meeting in Kerikeri where you and Chris Luxon spoke about getting NZ back on track. It is clear to us that NZ is way off track on a lot of things and needs a good reset but having listened to you folks and read the info on the National website, it bothers us greatly that your party appears to be avoiding the biggest elephant in the room, namely this co-governance issue.
If this is not addressed head on then, frankly we can forget getting the economy back on a sound footing or any of the other points in the National plan.
Are you able to explain to us why National do not appear to be planning to deal with co-governance or the Treaty manipulation that has led to the anti-democratic, Orwellian spectre of tribal rule pervading NZ via the co-governance vehicle?"
Not having received a response to our email, we followed up with "we figure we have our answer and need to make plans to get the heck out of NZ before complacency with the status quo regarding co-governance fatally undermines our democracy forever."
Nothing has changed aside from the hope that the coalition partners might make the vital difference as Mr Luxon sure as hell will not. Hopefully there are more than a few in National that will tell him and Chris Bishop the facts of life.