It’s only (other people’s) money – updated

01/05/2011

Quote of the week from Dim Post:

Sometimes I just want to strap the entire spectrum of left-wing politicians into dentists chairs and patiently explain to them – using chisels and barbed wire – that most the state’s wealth comes from ordinary people working hard and then giving a huge chunk of their income to the government, so spending it is a sacred trust not an endless opportunity to squander it all on gimmicks and whims and political stunts.

He was prompted by Hone Harawira’s decision to force a by-election but every politician and public servant – anywhere on the political spectrum – ought to take heed of and be governed by this premise. 

Not the dentists’ chairs, chisel and barbed wire, tempting though the use of those would be on some; but the hard working and sacred trust not to be wasted bits.

Respect for other people’s money appears to be a foreign concept to Harawira. His decision to force an entirely unnecessary by-election reinforces his arrogant attitude to public funds.

Early in his parliamentary career he was dressed down by his then-party co-leader Tariana Turia for accepting koha from constituents he helped.

Then he went AWOL while leading a  parliamentary delegation to the EU so he could visit Paris.

Further evidence of his profligacy was found in the release of MPs’ travel expenses last week.

In the first three months of this year Harawira spent, $42,971,  almost as much as the entire Maori Party on travel. He excuses that because of the size of his electorate and it’s distance from Wellington.  Te Tai Tokerau is 16,370 square kilometres in area but Rahui Katene whose Te Tai Tonga electorate is about 10 times bigger at 161,443 square kilometres in area spent less than half the amount Harawira did – $20,462. Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean whose Waitaki Electorate covers 34, 888 square kilometres, more than twice the size of Harawira’s, claimed $15,671.

Now he’s going to force the waste of half a million dollars on a by-election.

He reckons it’s for democracy but Keeping Stock has indentified a more venal reason – if  Harawira wins back the seat and returns to parliament as the leader of the Mana Party he’ll get the extra funding that comes with that.

However, once he resigns he’ll lose his MP’s salary and the ability to claim for his expenses which means for the duration of the campaign it won’t be our money he’s spending.

The timing of the by-election is at the discretion of the Prime Minister. Every day further out the date of the by-election is set will be a day when the public purse is relieved of the need to contribute to Harawira’s upkeep. Let’s hope it’s a very long campaign.

UPDATE:

National hasn’t stood candidates in Maori electorates in the alst last couple of elections. The Maori Party has an agreement not to compete with Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau. If it sticks to that could the Labour candidate win and leave the Mana Party in the dust at its first outing?


Increase in women MPs slowed under MMP

25/09/2010

MMP was supposed to help women enter parliament but has it?

Scrubone has a graph which shows the increase in the number of women MPs has slowed since MMP was introduced:

Pre the 1980s, clearly there was an upward trend for many years followed by some stagnation. But after 1978, numbers of women MPs shot up from 5% to 22%.

After the first MMP election however, something strange happened. The improvement has been much slower. Slower than the pre-MMP, and vastly slower than the 80′s and early 90′s trend. So things are getting better, but slowly – that’s point 1.

Now, think about this. Those big gains were made when all MPs were electorate MPs.

Scrubone also found that not only had the increase in the number of women MPs slowed, it was even slower for electorates.

There’s another, very obvious conclusion that can be taken from exactly the same data. MMP has meant that parties don’t need to take seriously the idea of equality anymore. Why bother to get a wide range of candidates in seats when you can just promote them in the list? That to me is a should be listed as a negative.

So is MMP really better for women’s representation in parliament? I see a reduction in the rate of increase that could hardly be more clear, plus a change in behaviour in that women are pushed from electorates into the list.

Is that really progress?

He’s got graphs to show that too . He worked on percentages so this trend has nothing to do with there being fewer electorate seats since MMP was introduced.

MMP has made electorates bigger geographically which makes them more difficult to serve and much harder to balance work and family responsibilities. That could put women off standing, but women MPs hold  some of the biggest electorates.

Rahui Katene is MP for Te Tai Tonga (161,443 square kilometres), Tariana Turia is MP for Te Tai Hauauru (35,825 sq kms), Jacqui Dean holds Waitaki (34,888 sq km),  Anne Tolley holds East Coast (13,649),  Nanaia Mahuta holds Hauraki-Waikato ( 12,580 sq kms),  Louise Upston holds Taupo (9,101 sq kms), Amy Adams is MP for Selwyn (7,854 sq kms) and Jo Goodhew is MP for Rangitata (6,826 sq kms).

Something which may partly explain why more women are on lists than in electorates is  that only three parties, National, Labour and the Maori Party, hold electorate seats so all Act and Green MPs are list MPs.

But that doesn’t explain why the increase in the number of women in parliament has slowed under MMP.

The may be other factors other than the electoral system which have impacted on the number of women MPs since 1996. But MMP was supposed to make parliament more representative and it hasn’t lived up to that promise when it comes to gender balance.


MPs per sq km

10/12/2008

 One person one vote is a core principle of democracy and from that comes the requirement for electorates to have a similar population.

The quotas for current boundaries  are:

North Island general electorates: 57,243 +/- 2,862

South Island general electorates: 57,562 +/- 2,878

Maori electorates:                             59,583 +/1 2,979

The result of this is a huge variation in the area a MP represents – from Rodney Hide in Epsom who covers just 23 square kilometres to Bill English in Clutha Southland, the largest general electorate which is 38,247 square kilometres in area and Rahui Katene in Te Tai Tonga which covers 161,443 sqaure kilometres.

MMP adds to the dispropotion of MPs per square kilometre because list MPs serve parties not electorates and most of them are in the North Island and in cities.

MMP encourages parties to work where the votes are and there are more votes in the North Island and cities than in the provinces and South Island. The result is that the provincial and southern voices aren’t being heard so strongly and that has been exagerated by the bluewash of the provinces in last month’s election because there are very few opposition MPs outside the four main cities.

I’m not suggesting a change to one person, one vote. But when considering if MMP if is retained or not some thought needs to be given to how big electorates can be to ensure MPs are reasonably accessible to their constituents and that they can effecitvely cover the area they are supposed to serve.

A small concession to the difficulty of servicing the larger electorates has been made in the agreement between National and the Maori Party which gives all Maori MPs and those in general electorates  larger than 20,000 square kilometres an extra staff member.

However, they don’t get any extra funds for associated costs and while Pita Sharples in Tamaki Makaurau which is 730 square kilometres in area gets an extra member of staff, 23 general electorates which are bigger than that but smaller than 20,000 don’t.

Similarly Nania Mahuta in Hauraki Waikato which covers 12,580 square kilometres gets an extra staff member but Shane Adern in Taranaki King Country (12,869 sq kms) and Anne Tolley in East Coast (13,649) don’t.

The table below (from the parliamentary library) shows the areas electorates cover, colour coded for the party of the MP representing them.

Name

Area sq.km

Te Tai Tonga

161,443

Clutha-Southland

38,247

West Coast-Tasman

38,042

Te Tai Hauauru

35,825

Waitaki

34,888

Ikaroa-Rawhiti

30,952

Kaikoura

23,706

Waiariki

19,212

Te Tai Tokerau

16,370

East Coast

13,649

Taranaki-King Country

12,869

Hauraki-Waikato

12,580

Northland

12,255

Rangitikei

12,189

Wairarapa

11,922

Taupo

9,101

Selwyn

7,854

Napier

6,866

Rangitata

6,826

Whanganui

5,948

Invercargill

5,617

Rotorua

5,535

Waikato

4,947

Coromandel

4,653

Tukituki

4,277

Dunedin South

2,702

Waimakariri

1,757

Otaki

1,728

Whangarei

1,628

Hunua

1,266

Bay of Plenty

1,188

Rodney

1,051

Helensville

865

Tamaki Makaurau

730

Dunedin North

642

New Plymouth

579

Nelson

565

Rimutaka

518

Auckland Central

499

Mana

321

Hutt South

311

Papakura

255

Waitakere

254

Mangere

155

Hamilton West

148

Wellington Central

146

Ohariu

130

Port Hills

115

New Lynn

97

Tauranga

89

Christchurch East

78

Palmerston North

46

Wigram

40

East Coast Bays

37

Hamilton East

37

Manurewa

37

Maungakiekie

37

Botany

36

Tamaki

36

Mt Albert

34

Manukau East

31

Pakuranga

29

Christchurch Central

28

Ilam

27

Northcote

27

Rongotai

27

Te Atatu

27

North Shore

25

Mt Roskill

24

Epsom

23

 


Inequities over staff increases

16/11/2008
One of the unfortunate consequences of MMP is the larger area of electorates. The difficulty and added expense of servicing them has not been recognised by extra resources for their MPs.
However, thanks to one of the clauses in the agreement between National and the Maori Party  that will change.

All Maori MPs and all MPs in general seats which cover an area greater than 20,000 square kilometres will be entitled to an extra staff member, equivalent to three full time out of parliament staffers.

The Electorates which will benefit from this are:

Name

Area sq.km

Te Tai Tonga

161,443

Clutha-Southland

38,247

West Coast-Tasman

38,042

Te Tai Hauauru

35,825

Waitaki

34,888

Ikaroa-Rawhiti

30,952

Kaikoura

23,706

Waiariki

19,212

Te Tai Tokerau

16,370

Hauraki-Waikato

12,580

Tamaki Makaurau

730

The MPs representing them are Rahui Katene, Bill English, Chris Auchinvole,  Parekura Horomia, Jacqui Dean, Colin King, Tariana Turia, Te Ururoa Flavell, Hone Harawira,  Nanaia Mahuta and Pita Sharples.

The area the bigger ones cover definitely justifies more help. But there are 21 general electorates which cover bigger areas than Tamaki Makaurau.

That raises the question of why an electorate covering a relatively small area of 730 square kilometres needs an extra staff member if these, which are bigger, don’t:

East Coast

13,649

Taranaki-King Country

12,869

Northland

12,255

Rangitikei

12,189

Wairarapa

11,922

Taupo

9,101

Selwyn

7,854

Napier

6,866

Rangitata

6,826

Whanganui

5,948

Invercargill

5,617

Rotorua

5,535

Waikato

4,947

Coromandel

4,653

Tukituki

4,277

Dunedin South

2,702

Waimakariri

1,757

Otaki

1,728

Whangarei

1,628

Hunua

1,266

Bay of Plenty

1,188

Rodney

1,051

Helensville

865

 


Maori making history

14/11/2008

The ODT’s headline Maori Making History  comes from a quote by the new Maori Party MP for Te Tai Tonga, Rahui Katene.

She was referring to the deal negotiated between the party and Prime Minister elect, John Key. Details haven’t been amde public yet but it’s thought the party will get two ministerial positions outside cabinet in return for giving confidence and supply to National.

This is good news and the story itself might be making history too. I don’t recall ever seeing an ODT front page lead quoting the former MP for Te Tai Tonga, Labour’s Mahora Okeroa, so the new MP is already achieving something her predecessor didn’t. 

The arrangement hasn’t pleased new labour leader Phil Goff but Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia isn’t impressed by that:

Ms Turia said Mr Goff’s comments were “bloody patronising behaviour” and he was “scaremongering” to try to derail the process.

“He’s trying, once more, to frighten our people into saying we should sit with Labour. Well, Labour didn’t even invite us to sit with them in the last government and our people are sick and tired of being told what to do.

“He should stick with re-building the Labour Party instead of trying to dismantle others.”

Ms Turia said there was a strong feeling that “red or blue” it was critical to have a Maori voice in government.

That voice will be stronger if it’s not wedded to either left or right.

But we must remember while there may be issues and beliefs many, perhaps most, Maori have in common, there can rarely if ever be a single voice for a group of people. And we’ll really be making history when there are a wide variety of Maori voices coming from within all parties and they don’t need a separate vehicle to ensure it’s heard.


Brown brighter than Green

12/11/2008

The Green Party entered parliament as part of the Alliance in 1996 but has never had a minister in its ranks.

The Maori Party has been in parliament only one and a bit terms (after Tariana Turia’s resignation from Labour) and could well have a ministerial post this term, although it may be outside cabinet.

John Key’s determination to include the Maori Party, even though he doesn’t need their support to govern, is a sign that his desire for inclusive government is not just empty rhetoric.

If they accept the invitation and use the power it gives them wisely and successfully it will be good for New Zealand and strengthen the Maori Party.

The party vote in the Maori seats suggests their supporters lean more to the left than the right. But only about half the people who identify as Maori are on the Maori roll and many of those who are don’t vote so the election results don’t refelct the voice and views of all of what Tariana calls “our” people.

Regardless of that anyway, Tariana Turia, Pita Sharples, Hone Harawira,  Te Ururoa Flavell and Rahui Katene understand what the Greens don’t – the power under MMP lies in the centre.

As long as the Greens are radical on social and economic issues they will be isolated on the left, bound to and dependent on Labour.

The Maori Party wants to achieve something and they want to be an enduring political force. They know they can’t do that unless they are in, or working with, the government.

If they accept National’s offer of a ministerial role they will have the ability to influence policy and achieve something for all of us because New Zealand can’t succeed while large numbers of us fail.

They will also be the strongest wee party in government.

Act, in spite of protestations to the contrary, is to the right of National and so is very, very unilkely to play a significant role, if any, in a Labour led government.

The Greens have marooned themselves on the left and have chosen to achieve nothing rather than work with a National-led government.

The Maori Party was disappointed to win only one more seat and gain only 2.24% of the party vote in the election.

If they accept a minsisterial role and perform well this term they will have achievements on which to campaign in three years time and establish themselves as the only party prepared to go right or left.

In doing so they’ll have power and influence regardless of which of the two bigger parties is leading the government.

Macdoctor  approves the politics of inclusion and notes:

It is very brave of the Maori party to go against that background and it graphically illustrates the huge Mana that Turia and Sharples have with their people, that they can risk this. It also illustrates how much more they are interested in their people’s well-being, rather than political gain, than is the average politician.

It also shows they’re much brighter than the Greens who should learn from this. Environmental concerns cross the political spectrum and if they were more interested in environmental improvement than social engineering they’d achieve more.

Unless they accept that their green policies will continue to be handicapped by their red ideology, the Maori Party will cement itself in the centre and the Greens will continue to languish on the far left.

UPDATE: Roarprawn is excited by the opportunity to have 11 Maori MPs working together.


Katene will win Te Tai Tonga?

30/10/2008

The ODT is predicting that the Maori Party will win Te Tai Tonga:

Once the fiefdom of the Tirikatene family, this enormous electorate covering all the South Island, and a small part of Wellington, has been held solidly by Labour’s Mahora (sic) Okeroa since 2002.

At 40 on Labour’s list, he must have a reasonable hope of remaining in the house, but he is under a severe electorate challenge from Rahui Katene of the Maori Party (he  (sic) is 7th on its list).

If Mr (sic) Katene can win a majority, it may ensure the Maori Party wins all seven Maori electorates, thus giving the party its hoped-for powerful position in the House, especially if the election is reasonably close.

It is being widely predicted that Mr (sic) Katene will win the seat, with the party vote going to Labour.

Update: This is a cut and paste but as Buggerlugs points out below Rahui is a woman.

Update 2: A Maori TV poll  gave Mahara Okeroa a 10 point lead over Rahui Katene but nearly a quarter of the 500 people polled are undecided.


Maori Party strong in south

28/10/2008

The ODT  thinks Labour’s Mahara Okeroa is vulnerable to the challenge from Rahui Katene who’s seeking the Te Tai Tonga seat for the Maori Party.

Community leaders spoken to in Otago said the Maori Party brand was “very strong” and that Mr Okeroa might as well have “dropped off the edge of the planet” as he had not been seen to be active in Otago for at least two years.

The electorate covers the whole of the South Island, Stewart Island and part of Stewart Island so is impossible to cover well in person. That makes media even more important but while I don’t know if he features in Maori media he’s rarely mentioned in other media I read, watch or listen to.


Rahui Katene to stand for Maori Party in Te Tai Tonga

18/07/2008

Lawyer Rahui Katene is the new Maori Party candidate for Te Tai Tonga.

In February Ms Katene missed out to chosen candidate Monte Ohia but selections opened again after his death last month.

Te Tai Tonga electorate council co-chairman Raymond Hina said Ms Rahui would be “an excellent representative” for the largest electorate in the country.

Te Tai Tonga covers the South Island, Rakiura (Stewart Island), the Chatham Islands, Wellington and parts of the Hutt Valley.

If serving the big general electorates like Waitaki which covers an area of 34,888 square kilomteres, West Coast-Tasman with 38, 042 square kilomteres or Clutha Southland with 38,247 square kilometres, is demanding, how can anyone hope to cover Te Tai Tonga with an area of 161,443 square kilometres?

The Maori Party was confident that they’d take the seat from the incumbent, Mahara Okeroa. That task is a bit more difficult with the later start following the need to do another selection but Okeroa does not have a high profile.

 I am not sure how well he is known by his constituents, and he may feature regularly in Maori media. But he doesn’t have much of a profile in general media. I read The Press and ODT every day and I have not noticed him advocating on issues which concern local iwi, for example Meridian’s plans for the Waitaki River.

He may use other means to communicate with his constituents, but advocating for them means representing their concerns to the wider public too.


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