Dr Michael Bassett is one of New Zealand’s clear thinkers, and yesterday he had something to say about the competence, or in this instance the lack of competence of the Night-Mayor Len Brown.
This morning’s report that the new Auckland Council yesterday pushed through a budget of $3.43 million to fund an unelected Maori Statutory Board for Auckland is a disgrace. Len Brown and his Council should hang their heads in shame. So, too, should Rodney Hide and John Key who let it happen, despite earlier protestations that there would not be separate racial representation on the Auckland Council. The new council’s allocation of ratepayers’ money to unelected people to play games with, “engaging and reporting to the Maori Community”, “researching” the well-being of Maori when 101 other publicly-funded agencies are doing the same, and with nearly $1 million allocated for “staff costs” that aren’t explained, brings shame on every councillor who was party to the rushed decision. The Auckland Transition Authority estimated that the costs of a Maori statutory committee would be $400,000. How has this grown to $3.43 million? Rodney Hide and John Key must immediately turn their minds to legislating a satisfactory arrangement for Maori advisory services to the new council. A form of parallel government by Maori who are the fourth largest ethnic group in the Auckland area, with an overwhelming number of them hailing from outside of the council’s area, and therefore unable to claim tangata whenua status, cannot be tolerated by sane people. Even if the majority of them were tangata whenua, no credible case can be made for what is occurring.
This funding allocation is nothing more than a Maori tax on every ratepayer. Arguably Len Brown has handed over teh city to a bunch of, now well paid, but unelected Maori elite, who number perhaps less than 20.
What this National-led government seems to be pushing is separatism within a country that has always thrown its small but significant strength in world forums against any form of apartheid. Tens of thousands of New Zealanders marched in the streets 30 years ago against apartheid and the visit to New Zealand of a racially selected Springbok team. Today many of those same marchers must be cringing in corners as Len Brown, who was elected by a majority of them, marches onwards toward parallel forms of local government – one elected, and the other seemingly with a right to mail invoices for ratepayers’ money without any proper public scrutiny. This process must be stopped in its tracks. If Len Brown lacks the commonsense to understand that he has gone too far, then his council must re-think the issue. Failing that, the responsibility lies with central government. Three days after we celebrated the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi that guaranteed Maori “the same rights and duties of citizenship” as the rest of us, we must pull back from this new arrangement being implemented by the Auckland Council. It clearly bestows special privileges on Maori and goes way beyond any reasonable interpretation of any Treaty obligations. It is also at odds with New Zealand’s record in international forums.
A number of issues and challenges spring to mind. Michael Bassett talks of one, that of separatism. Instead of New Zealand coming together under one government like the Treaty was meant to deliver, modern treaty-ism is leading, in fact, to separatism. The splitting of the nation. Moreover it is also leading to the splitting of Maori between the urban have nots and Maori-tocracy elite whose pockets are not only very deep when it comes to themselves, but very well lined thanks to the largesse of the long suffering taxpayer, and now ratepayers.
For me the biggest issue is that currently in NZ law, to my understanding anyway, there is simply no way to remove wayward politicians who are hell bent on doing what ever they like, except at the ballot box and then only every three years. Three years is a long, long time for changes that Len Brown is forcing through to become bedded in and permanent and then und-doing them becomes almost impossible.
It seems that all of Labour’s and Phil Twyford’s fears of ACT hijacking the city have come true, except it isn’t Act or Rodney Hide hijacking the city, it is Len Brown and his Maori backers using poorly drafted legislation to capture a city. Phil Twyford and Labour backed Len Brown and now they are aghast at what he has done to destroy democracy in Auckland City. Well they emboldened the idiot. They built him up so that he believes his own hype. They need to own the problem just as much as the government does. I would like to see Labour support the addition of recall legislation into our laws. Control must be in the hands of the people. Phil Twyford thinks so: ORIGIN Greek demokratia, from demos ‘the people’ & -kratia ‘power, rule’. Nothing gives power to the people like a simple mechanism like recall. Easy to implement, swift to deliver.
John Key can deliver too. When they have to pass urgent legislation to fix up the bungles they may as well add in recall provisions, it isn’t as though it is radical either because under current local body legislation you can run a petition to force a referendum, the mechanisms are already there, they just need tweaking to support recall. If they are going to amend legisaltion to fix the hijacking of Auckland City by the Maori-tocracy then fix the gaping hole that prevents us from acting on our voters remorse.