Rodney Hide: Somewhat over the rainbows

The call for diversity increasingly trumps the principle "one person, one vote".
The call for diversity increasingly trumps the principle "one person, one vote".

The People's Party was announced this week with a narrower focus than its name suggests. Its target is Asian and ethnic voters and its issue is fighting crime.

Prime Minister John Key pooh-poohed the party's chances and Winston Peters attacked another race-based party as divisive.

But our political discourse is increasingly about diversity and formal and informal quotas to achieve predetermined results. The call for diversity increasingly trumps the principle "one person, one vote".

We have reserved seats in Parliament for Maori. So why not reserved seats for other groups? Once the principle of "one person, one vote" is given away it's impossible to draw a sensible line.

My experience is with setting up the new Auckland Council. We almost had reserved council seats for Maori and as a consolation, the Maori Party pushed for a Maori Statutory Board. That left then Minister of Ethnic Affairs Pansy Wong aggrieved and so an Ethnic People's Advisory Panel was ordered.

It had to be a panel not a board because ethnic groups were deemed less worthy than Maori because they came later and hadn't signed the Treaty. I kid you not.

Of course, that was but the start.

Once the council got going it felt Parliament hadn't gone far enough and, to achieve more diversity, established a Senior's Advisory Panel, a Pacific People's Advisory Panel, a Youth Advisory Panel, a Disability Advisory Panel and Rainbow Communities Advisory Panel.

It would seem in the panel hierarchy the Rainbow Communities and Pacific People's are of lesser significance than Ethnic Peoples because they don't enjoy statutory protection.

That's the nuttiness of dividing the body politic into groups of collective interest rather than staying with the principle of "one person, one vote" all voting in the same pool to achieve the "general good".

Once the carve-up starts, there's no logical end to it.

The People's Party should not be disheartened. On present trends the parties will reserve places on their lists for the various groups and Parliament could well establish quota to ensure diversity.

You can't have too much of a good thing.

- Herald on Sunday

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Rodney Hide

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