Hide will quit over Maori seats! Shock! Horror! The Government could fall! With John Key and senior ministers in Australia it must be a slow news week in Parliament and the gallery is desperate, hence this beat-up.
Ever since the Super City proposal was mooted we've known the Government had problems with its partners over the Maori seat proposal for Auckland. The Maori Party wants them and Act doesn't.
National's position has always been to not include a provision for Maori seats in the new council. Instead, the new Super Council can, in its first term, decide if it wants them.
And why not?
It's more democratic, surely, to let Aucklanders decide on the question than have central government impose the requirement.
It's the same with the voting process. The government seem happy to let the first Super City election go through with the traditional first past the post system but if the new council opts subsequently to go for, say, STV, then so be it. It's their call.
The whole move to the Super City is about central government devolving more power to a single Auckland-wide body.
It seems Hide, as Local Government Minister, told John Key he couldn't introduce the bill to create the Super City if it contained separate Maori seats because that would contravene the principles of Act, therefore he'd have to quit as a minister.
That seems straightforward enough. It wasn't a threat, simply a declaration of intent should the seats be included.
Congratulations to Hide for being a politician who actually has a principle to make a stand upon. I've not heard a Cabinet minister talk of resigning on a matter of principle before. Anyone point me to one who did so?
Even if it happened, and it won't, Act would not pull out of the coalition deal and the Government would not fall. In making that claim Tau Henare was just plain wrong. Again.
Nor will the Maori Party withdraw its support for National if it doesn't get its way. Sharples and Turia will continue to agitate for the seats, its electorate would expect them to. But both know they have a second chance to achieve them by lobbying the new Super City council and putting the squeeze on them.
Neither is willing to die in the ditch over it. Even if the Maori Party pulled its support from National the Government would not fall as a result.
Labour's Phil Goff has sought to make the most of the issue by saying, "If John Key allows himself to be blackmailed in that way, that has serious implications to 'destabilise' the coalition arrangements. I think it's a classic case of the Act tail wagging the National Party dog," because, he says, Hide is dictating to the Government there should be no Maori seats.
It's a good political point to make but Phil is posturing here. He knows National is also philosophically opposed to Maori seats and has no intention of creating them in Auckland.
This is all just political theatre.
You can guarantee a liberal/left political bloc of candidates will campaign in the Super cCty elections on the issue of having Maori seats. If Auckland wants it, we'll vote for it. If we don't, we won't.
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