Thursday, February 26, 2004

Mr Inbetween

Peter Dunn sounded surprisingly sensible this morning on Morning Report. It probably is time for a broader debate on the whole Treaty issue than there has been to date. The Treaty has slowly morphed into something that most NZer's have had no input into, it being defined by Wellington mandarins.

With the benefit of hindsight the current shift in political opinion towards National should not be a surprise. There has, until now, been a general centre-Left and centre-Right consensus on Treaty issues and on redressing the social inequalities faced by Maori. But the seashore issue struck middle NZ as one step beyond. Maybe this reaction is unfair and and to a degree ill-informed but that was the reaction none-the-less. The Maori communities in the Marlborough Sounds had a valid complaint about being excluded from economic development but how this has developed into a battle over NZ's entire shoreline has many worried. The on-going attempt by liberals to characterise this concern as racism just goes to show how complacent and lazy liberal thought is in NZ.

Some of those that appeared on the Holmes show last night were poor advocates for their cause. Jackson came out with the all-to-common Left wing refrain - its all the fault of the media. Sharples claimed that Maori were unanimously in agreement with him, in clear contradiction of polls showing Maori with a range of view points - what one would expect if you didn't base your politics on race.

That some are willing to jeopardize a centre-Left government for the sake of what they are claiming to be a "symbolic" ownership of the foreshore is curious and suggests that the concern that it will not be just symbolic may not be completely unfounded.


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