Tariana Turia said on Agenda that Maori have only had a dedicated Maori voice since the Maori Party has been in parliament.
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.
In other words it’s not the Maori seats which give Maori people a voice it’s the Maori Party.
Hold that thought for a moment and consider what might happen if a future government decided that the rural people weren’t being represented adequately and created special rural seats. A Country Party then forms and takes all the seats but gets only a small percentage of the party vote which creates a two or three seat overhang and gives them the balance of power. When urban people complain and want the seats removed, the country people say that would be for them to decide.
Would that be fair or right? No and for the same reasons it is neither fair nor right to have Maori seats nor to leave the decision on their existance up to Maori.
It has nothing to do with race, the Treaty, or rights of indigenous people, it’s about democracy in which one group of people should not have the right to make a decision on something which affects everyone.
The Maori seats impact on us all in two ways: the potential for overhang distorts the proportionality of parliament which is one of the merits of MMP; and if Maori seats were disbanded there could be more general seats so electorates would be smaller and and more manageable for MPs and their constituents.
The Royal Commission which drew up recommendations for MMP said there would be no need for Maori seats and that has been confirmed by the Maori Party leader’s own words – it’s not the seats but the party which gives a dedicated Maori voice.