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  • Don Brash

Defending democracy is tough these days

Unless you’ve been living under a stone, you will know that when David Seymour was bold enough to disclose the special code which allowed Maori New Zealanders in Auckland to get vaccinated without needing to make an appointment, he was dumped on from a great height by almost everybody on the Left of politics and even by some on the Right, like Shane Reti, National’s Deputy Leader.


All over the country, media attacked him directly or by running articles by those guaranteed to do so.


Eventually, and to their credit, the New Zealand Herald gave Seymour a right of reply and we ran that on our blog yesterday. I thought it was a stunning piece, which put his critics to shame. He made it abundantly clear that New Zealand has no future unless all New Zealanders have equal political rights, no matter where their grandparents were born.


Today, the editorial in Stuff’s Dominion-Post resumed the attack. After noting some of the points Seymour had made about the new History curriculum, Maori co-governance of the Three Waters, the observation of so-called “Treaty principles” in land and water resource use, and the special rights conferred on Maori New Zealanders in the Plant Variety Rights legislation, the editorial innocently asked “why should greater Maori governance or input be seen as a threat by everyone else?”


It is astonishing that the editorial writer needs to have it pointed out that giving a small minority of the population a power of veto over the wishes of the great majority is fundamentally inconsistent with any concept of democracy.


And let’s make no mistake: that’s what is intended in the Government’s He Puapua plan. That plan envisages completely separate spheres of government, one for those who chance to have a Maori ancestor (always now with other ancestors too of course) and one for those who don’t.


We already see the Government setting up a separate Maori Health Authority (with a power of veto over what the health authority serving the rest of the population does); proposing in the Three Waters reform to give iwi 50% of the voting power in the regional water authorities to be established; and requiring special deference be given to all things Maori in the proposed Natural and Built Environments legislation.


Giving a constitutional preference to any person, or any group of persons, simply on the basis of birth is not consistent with our constitution. Yes, I concede the Queen is an exception to that generalization but she carries no meaningful power in our scheme of government.


Unless we reverse this dangerous trend to creating constitutional preference for New Zealanders based on ancestry, it will be a disaster.


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