John Key spits on the Treaty and Maori Party sell Maoridom down the river (literally)
Water, water everywhere, but not a drop for Maori.
John Key has spat on the Treaty with contempt in the exact same way Helen Clark spat on it when she confiscated the foreshore and seabed. For Key to write the Waitangi Tribunal off in the manner he has shows how under pressure he is to make the first asset sale work after his whirlwind fire sale trip of Australia to promote them. He can not afford to allow the first sale to be a flop politically and by insulting the Tribunal he is trying to bluff any possible fall off of investor confidence.
It has backfired terribly.
Let's be clear for the stupid amongst us. This is not a case of 'Maori taking the water' and it certainly isn't as clear cut as Key's stupidly glib 'no one owns the water' crap. This legal challenge by Maori has been brought on by the State's desire to sell off a public asset. Things gifted to the Crown by Maori for the public good can not then be sold to private interests without Maori becoming involved. That is what happened when the Marlborough Council were arrogant enough to force the issue by selling title to glorified boat houses which sparked the foreshore and seabed confiscation, that is what is happening now.
The difficulty for Key is that unlike the foreshore and seabed debate, the asset sale program is deeply resented by the wider population. Labour sold their confiscation off as 'Dem Maaaaoris is stealing our beaches' and luckily for Labour the redneck media played along, this time however the wider population is hungry for any handbrake to stymie the asset sale process and the Waitangi Tribunal is providing that.
The political challenges for National are deepened this time around because the utter contempt Key has shown the Waitangi process makes the Maori Party's argument of staying at the table to influence decisions a complete joke.
Pita and Tariana have been loath to contemplate officially pulling their coalition deal with National partly due to their own personal welfare. Those salaries and cars make life very easy for the two of them, but the internal revolt Key has inspired within what remains of the rank and file of the Maori Party is forcing Pita and Tariana's hand. If they walk, Key's camouflage of moderation that the relationship creates falls away revealing the hard right reality of the National Party. A one seat majority propped up by the contemptible John Banks and Peter Dunne are two swallows that do not make a summer.
Key's problems are multiplied when considering some sort of sweetener for Maoridom. His own rank and file supporters are so racist they make the average Australian seem liberal, any deal Key cuts for Maori will evoke redneck fury from his own support base.
I predict some inanely draconian policy idea aimed at beneficiaries being quickly cooked up to desperately divert attention, perhaps the first born male of each solo mother being required for sacrifice to Milton Friedman alongside a cautiously optimistic editorial from the NZ Herald backing it up?
Labour's history of confiscation here means they have no moral high ground to wage an attack against National from, so the real 'winner' out of this politically looks like it will be MANA. Interestingly MANA out polled the Maori Party for the first time in any poll last week, that's interesting because the Herald Poll is notoriously biased against MANA meaning if they are showing a lead over the Maori Party, that spells problems for the Maori Party if they continue to stay with National.
Key's need to make the first asset sale work means he's cutting corners and arrogantly disrespecting institutions that are deeply regarded. If he cuts a sweetener for Maoridom, his own voter base will rebel, if he pushes on regardless it will end up in the High Court and sour the sale.
Such a political dilemma couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.