Thursday, February 2, 2012

Will Maori Pull The Power Plug?

The power wagon wheels are bogging down in brown stuff...
The Maori Party's co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia are seriously concerned with how the govt is handling the partial asset sales of four state-owned power companies. Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power and Solid Energy are to be removed from the State-owned Enterprises Act, have 49% of their shares sold, and will not be covered by the treaty clauses in the legislation.
The Maori Party maintains this amounts to saying the Treaty of Waitangi does not exist (which could mean the end of its confidence and supply agreement, a deal breaker)! How they reach that conclusion is QUITE a stretch... but it can never be said that maori politicos are not blessed with vivid imaginations.
A senior Victoria University specialist says the Maori Party threat shows it's serious about its bottom line. Dr Maria Bargh says if the govt removes treaty clauses in the new legislation, the rights of maori would be eroded. She says the next three years are crucial for the Maori Party to reassert its independence. Ahhhhhhh, so is this really just about the party showing voters it actually has some rahos (balls)..?
NZers without brown skin may well wonder what chances THEY will have to voice their opinions. After all, the govt is beginning a round of meetings to consult maori on these legislative changes. These will be led by State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall and Finance Minister Bill English, who said "we want to understand maori views before we take final decisions". What about other views? The govt made the asset sales a key election issue. We all knew that. Now it's doing what it said it would do. But first it must talk with maori...of course... naturally... why not... even though everyone is already aware of its plans - and mainly unhappy about 'em, according to opinion polls.
Some maori favouring the sales want preferential treatment when the shares are sold: PM John Key has ruled that out. So by playing the race card (again!), is the Maori Party simply revealing a greed for first options on share-purchasing? Excuse me, but why should anyone get a head start? The only exception I'd make for this is that NZ buyers should be favoured over international prospects.
Hopefully what the PM will gain from this native consultation, is that a majority of maori are as strongly opposed to the sales as the majority of the population generally. Of course, with our national day looming this weekend, it would have been nicer if we didn't have to go through a race-based consultation process at all...

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