Bryce Edwards ' Opinion

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards: Political round-up: February 15

Green MP Mojo Mathers. Photo / Green Party
Green MP Mojo Mathers. Photo / Green Party

There's an old saying in politics that you don't ask a question unless you already know the answer. The Government has been asking Maori about its asset sales programme, and it's unlikely that the answer being given is the one National wanted to hear. TVNZ's Te Karere has released a poll of 1000 Maori voters showing 88% oppose the Government's privatisation plans, and 70% don't think John Key provides good leadership on Maori issues. Also unsurprising was the 56% who didn't actually know whether new Labour leader David Shearer provides good leadership on Maori issues - see: Poll shows strong Maori opposition to asset sales. All of this shows why the Maori Party is almost daily seeking to distance itself from Government policies.

Stephen Franks has an interesting perspective on Section 9 of the SOE Act, as his law firm was involved at the time. He says that the section was 'a simple expedient, a fleeting appeasement expected to get the government through an awkwardness', and it was the courts who subsequently gave it meaning and teeth - see: Section 9 of the SOE Act - what Parliament thought it meant.

British officials, however, probably said the same, at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Herald has given MP Hone Harawira - who knows a thing or two about protests at Waitangi - a right of reply to the provocative Paul Holmes column, which Harawira says was 'mean, nasty and uncaring'. Harawira's response is articulate and considered, and makes a straightforward case as to why Maori still feel the need to protest at Waitangi 172 years on - see: Paul Holmes, Maori have plenty to protest.

Despite being one of the longest serving MPs, Lockwood Smith has shown a lack of political nous and management over the provision of electronic note taking for deaf Greens MP Mojo Mathers. As Amelia Romanos reports, Smith was forced to publicly defend his decision not to directly fund the $20,000-30,000 required, proclaiming that although he was sympathetic, he was bound by funding rules. His complaint that the Greens have politicised the issue is naive. Quite apart from the fact that the issue directly involves a Member of Parliament, disability access and services has long been a political issue.

Inevitably fingers were pointed at other expenditure from the same budget that taxpayers might regard as less of a priority, including 13,000 for a South American jaunt that included Smith and $8000 on parties - see: Andrea Vance and Danya Levy's Speaker refuses extra cash for deaf MP. In another opinion piece, Vance also tells Smith to Get on with it, and makes the point that 'Remember, this is the same Speaker who fought tooth and nail for MPs to hang on to their perks - he should show the same determination to fix this mess quickly'.

However, David Farrar defends the Speaker (Hours for Mathers) pointing out that the Greens collectively have a hugely increased allocation of parliamentary staff hours and funding this year, which they could use to cover the service. He makes the point that the Speaker doesn't have the power to give extra funding to individual MPs and says the Greens did a 'hatchet job' on the Speaker.

Danya Levy reports that the Greens deny they are politicking, and say that the note-taking service they've requested should be part of the infrastructure of Parliament just as Maori language and sign language are. The service would also eventually lead to the captioning of Parliament television, benefitting 700,000 hearing impaired people around New Zealand - see: Greens: No politicking over Mojo money. Forcing an MP with a disability to use their normal funding allocation to overcome their disability was always going to lead to claims of discrimination being leveled at Smith. And with Parliament in session last week and Mathers becoming an MP nearly three months ago Tova O'Brien asks 'given Mr Smith has known about this for so long, why has it not been resolved?' - see: Parliament speaker taken too long to address deaf MP. It isn't a particularly good fit with National's current championing of increased efficiency and technology in the delivery of government services. But the real partisan winner out of the furore is probably, once again, Winston Peters who has been the sharpest player, coming in to bat for an MP from another party.

The court trial over the Urewera terrorism raids will be one of the most heavily political stories for the next few months and Victoria Robinson and Ian Steward cover yesterday's proceedings very well with their story, Urewera Four trial: Boys to be star witnesses. But don't expect too much analysis of the story in the media (or even the blogosphere) due to sub judice rules prohibiting discussion of 'anything other than the facts' (Scott Yorke - On The Urewera Trial).

Discussing National's political involvement with New Zealand On Air, John Armstrong wonders why Labour, having sought for so long to land some direct hits on John Key, doesn't seem to know when it has actually scored: 'Labour (finally) is making headway on something of real concern. So why isn't the party giving more priority to Curran's questions? Yesterday she was bottom of the list. She deserves better' - see: Curran makes new man squirm over NZ On Air job.

The Earthquake Commission is receiving a lot of scrutiny at the moment, and one of the best accounts is by Christchurch author Amanda Cropp (who is about to release a quake book) and says that she is 'suffering from FEC (Frustration with the Earthquake Commission), a condition reaching epidemic proportions in Christchurch' - see: Banging heads against EQC wall.

Finally, two other items of interest: Fran O'Sullivan details changes in the merger of the Business Roundtable and the NZ Institute (CEOs to be key part of new think tank), and Charlie Gates reports on the Ministry of Social Development and Housing NZ taking two individuals to court in a claim that 'the pair were concealing a "marriage-type relationship" and falsely claiming benefits' - see: Woman felt sex life was on trial.

Your views

Bryce Edwards

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago. He teaches and researches on New Zealand politics, public policy, political parties, elections, and political communication. His PhD, completed in 2003, was on 'Political Parties in New Zealand: A Study of Ideological and Organisational Transformation'. He is currently working on a book entitled 'Who Runs New Zealand? An Anatomy of Power'. He is also on the board of directors for Transparency International New Zealand.

Read more by Bryce Edwards

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 31 Aug 2014 20:41:25 Processing Time: 682ms