Disabled doesn’t mean stupid

December 11, 2011

Mojo Mathers’ entry to parliament should be something to celebrate.

Her profound deafness will make her a very strong advocate for people with disabilities and inspire other people.

Sadly not everyone shares this view. Dave at Big News has been looking at the Facebook page of Conservative Party campaign manager Kevin Campbell and found this:

Campbell questioned whether new Green MP Mojo Mathers, who is the world’s fifth profoundly deaf MP, should even be an MP as she didn’t have all her “faculties” – and only people who have all their faculties should be MPs. In other words, because she is deaf, she is unsuitable as an MP. Mathers became an MP after special votes were counted and I think she is perfectly suitable to be an effective MP.
I was one of many who pulled him up on this. Just after I did this, my comment was deleted, I was defriended, and Campbell changed his profile picture. He has now taken the post and all its 30 -odd comments down after he reiterated that there was nothing wrong with what he said, adding that because Mathers was also a Green MP she, by definition can’t be effective.

Having a physical disability doesn’t affect your intellectual ability, though Campbell shows that not having a disability doesn’t stop you being ignorant.

I don’t share Mathers’ political views. It is certainly easier to make progress in government than opposition but being a Green MP by definition make her ineffective.

Being deaf will present challenges but it won’t stop Mathers being effective and it could make her even more so in some areas.


Have Maori seats passed their use-by date?

April 7, 2011

Otago used to have special seats for gold miners. When the gold ran out the need for the seats declined and the seats were disestablished.

Maori seats were set up to give votes to Maori men when the right to vote in New Zealand depended on land ownership. When universal franchise was introduced these seats should have gone but they didn’t.

The most recent official view that there was no longer any need for Maori seats was the Royal Commission on MMP but its advice wasn’t taken.

Disestablishing the seats was National Party policy before the last election but it was set aside as one of the conditions agreed to in coalition negotiations with the Maori Party.

That party has good reasons for wanting the seats to continue even though Tariana Turia said in a discussion on Agenda in 2008:

I think what our people are starting to realise though is that when they voted Maori people into Labour they never got a Maori voice, they got a Labour voice and that was the difference, and they’ve only begun to realise it since the Maori Party came into parliament, because it is the first time that they have heard significant Maori issues raised on a daily basis.

The seats by themselves didn’t give Maori a voice. They have also often given them inferior representation, sometimes because of the MP and always because of their size.

Most of the seats are far too big to service properly. Te Tai Tonga covers 161,443 square kilometres – the whole of the South Island, Stewart Island and part of Wellington. Te Tai Hauauru is 35, 825 square kilometres in area, Ikaroa-Rawhiti covers 30,952 square kilometres and Waiariki 19,212 square kilometres.

But Maori representation isn’t confined to special seats, the majority of Maori MPs in parliament now aren’t there because of the Maori electorates.

Big News lists the 23 who now sit in the house and Kiwiblog notes:

So that is 23/122 MPs are of Maori descent, representing 18.9% of Parliament. Now this means that Maori are over-represented in Parliament, relative to their population proportion. Now I don’t think this is at all a bad thing. My belief is that Parliament should be diverse and broadly representative of NZ, but we shouldn’t have quotas trying to match the makeup of Parliament to the exact population.

But what it does show is how well MMP has worked for Maori representation. We now have seven Maori MPs in Maori seats, three Maori MPs in general seats (all National) and 13 Maori List MPs.

It also reflects my view that one could do as the Royal Commission recommended, and abolish the Maori seats (in exchange for no 5% threshold on the list for Maori parties). Even without the Maori seats, there would be at least 16 MPs of Maori descent in Parliament (and probably more).

Isn’t it interesting that National, the party so often derided for being the party for middle-aged Pakeha men is the only one to have Maori in general seats, one of whom is a woman and all of whom are young?

Whether it is MMP by itself or whether there would have been an increase in the number of Maori MPs under another electoral system because of changing times and attitudes, is a moot point.

But the numbers show we no longer need special Maori seats and who better to argue that than Botany’s new MP Jami-Lee Ross who said in his maiden speech last night:

Mr Speaker, as a new Member of Parliament, I join the ranks of members, past and present, proud to call themselves Maori.  But whilst I am an individual of Maori descent, I do consider myself a New Zealander first and foremost. I have Ngati Porou blood running through my veins, but I can assure the House that I am a New Zealander who believes strongly in one standard of citizenship.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi is an exceptionally important document in New Zealand. It has a very simple and succinct text, but one that must be read in its entirety. We often hear of the principles of kawanatanga as expressed in Article 1, and of tino rangatiratanga in Article 2. Sadly the often forgotten part of the Treaty is Article 3.

The Kawharu translation of the Maori version of Article 3 reads:

For this agreed arrangement therefore concerning the Government of the Queen, the Queen of England will protect all the ordinary people of New Zealand and will give them the same rights and duties of citizenship as the people of England.

I am not convinced that we have reached the point in New Zealand where we calmly and honestly, talk about the relationship between Maori and non-Maori in the context of Article 3. My strong belief in one standard of citizenship means that I believe in fair, full, and final settlements of treaty grievances, with a strong emphasis on the word final. Believing in one standard of citizenship means that I will treat every single one of my constituents equally, regardless of the colour of their skin.

It also means that I do not subscribe to the view that I, or any New Zealander of Maori descent, requires special seats to be elected to Parliament, to Councils, or any other body in this country. It is my hope that the people of New Zealand will be the given the opportunity, in the near future, to examine the role of Maori seats in Parliament by way of referendum. I am a New Zealander of Maori decent, and proudly so. But I hope to challenge the status quo in my time here. I will be criticised along the way, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying that all New Zealander’s should be treated equally. He iwi tahi tatou – we are all one people.

One people does not mean we don’t have differences but nor does it mean we need special seats to ensure fair, proper and effective representation for everyone.


Another Clark for Labour

September 25, 2010

Selwyn College warden David Clark has been selected as Labour’s candidate for Dunedin North.

He has previously worked as a Treasury analyst and as an adviser to Labour list MP David Parker, also of Dunedin.

 Big News points out that four of the candidates who contested the seat at the last election will be in parliament after the recess:  Pete Hodgson (Labour), Michael Woodhouse (National), Metiria Turei (Greens) and Hilary Calvert (Act).

Clark has been seleted because Hodgson is retiring, Dunedin North is bright red so the new candidate’s chances of becoming the next MP are high.

 Given Act’s performance, Calvert’s seat in parliament is more precarious.


Some members more equal than others

September 24, 2010

Labour is selecting its Dunedin North candidate this weekend.

Three people have been nominated to replace retiring MP Pete Hodgson, who has held the seat for four terms, are  New Zealand Nurses Organisation national adviser Glenda Alexander. current electorate committee chair and warden of Selwyn College, David Clark ; and former electorate chair Simon Wilson.

Taking part in the selection process will be three Labour Party council representatives appointed by head office, including a Dunedin-based representative; two Labour Electorate Committee representatives, selected on the day; one panel member elected by members attending; and the “popular vote” from members, which will count as one vote.

That gives six panel members and a vote from the floor.

In some selections, Labour’s head office officials have stacked the panel to ensure their preferred candidate is selected.

However, it is unlikely the head office appointees will go against the wishes of Dunedin North members.

The last time that happened, Labour lost the seat to National candidate Richard Walls, in 1975.

What’s the difference between Labour Party members in Dunedin North and those in Mana where unions out-voted members?

Big News has the story of that selection  which is confirmed by this comment from Alex in the North  at Kiwiblog.

If all Labour members are equal, those in Dunedin North must be more equal than their comrades in Mana.

UPDATE: Kiwiblog has more on this.


Did you see the one about . . .

September 18, 2010

An email from Matt McCarten - Whale Oil received a thank you from Matt.

It’s not all doom and gloom despite the earthquake and SCF collapse - Beranrd Hickey finds 10 reasons to be cheerful.

Proof: Wellington council wardens are ticketing against council policy – Big News cuaght them at it.

Science explained Something Should Go Here Maybe Later, who’s made a welcome return to blogging, illustrates the differences between biologists.

Milestone for Beattie’s Book Blog – post 10,000 in a little under four years 1311 visitors for the day by lunchtime on the day the post was written.


Parata selected for Mana

September 9, 2010

National list MP Hekia Parata has been selected to contest the seat of Mana in the forthcoming by-election.

This is a safe Labour seat and no-one is pretending otherwise, but Hekia says she’s ready to run a strong campaign for National.

“I have a sound record of bringing energy, action, and voice to the interests of everyone who lives and works here. I want the best for Mana’s people and its businesses.” . . .

“I come from a family which understands the importance of education. Now, as a mother, I am focused on ensuring that my daughters have good health, an excellent education, and a set of values that will guide them well as proud New Zealand citizens of the world. 

“I want the same opportunities for all the people of Mana.” . . .

It’s a little early for a quote of the campaign but Big News is a contender with this:

Labour’s candidate has been selected too, but they haven’t announced it yet, because the official selection -process hasn’t been completed, and nominations don’t close until tomorrow.

He’s referring to the news that:

  Fran Mould has resigned as Deputy Political Editor for TVNZ , according to well placed sources.

The reason is an agreement in principle that she will replace Kris Faafoi as Chief Press Secretary to Phil Goff, when Faafoi becomes the Mana MP.

That’s what happens when you think democracy means of the party, by the party for the party.


Did you see the one about . . .

September 6, 2010

Real life social networks - Big News on the difference between virtual and real lives.

The wokman’s creed- Half-Pie woks.

Matt McCarten’s diatribe is drivel - Lindsay Mitchell on the difference between individualism and collectivism.

(Apropos of the target of this, I am sorry to learn that Matt has cancer.)

Octarine - Born On State Highway One on arty colours.

Mattock Matters - Robert Guyton has a new garden implement.

Knee-jerk legislation ‘should be slightly harder to introduce’ concede hysterical campaigners – Newsbiscuit hopes for rising standards to lower the kneejerks.

Myths about green jobs - Kiwiblog shows all that’s green isn’t as good as it’s painted.


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