A Womance, and a Nomance.
The minor parties' debate.
After the trench warfare of Tuesday night, when the two major parties went head to head, last night was the turn of the minor parties. Hosts Newshub termed it “the Powerbrokers' Debate”.
Based on the latest polls the four parties taking part - ACT, the Greens, New Zealand First, and Te Pāti Māori, are likely, between them, to win a third of the seats in the next parliament. At least one of them, perhaps more, will find themselves as the kingmaker(s) to Chris or Christopher.
I was surprised it was being hosted by Rebecca Wright, rather than Newshub political editor Jenna Lynch. Could it be that Newshub had discovered professional ethics and stood Jenna down due to her massive, inescapable conflict of interest with anything involving the ACT party? It seemed unlikely.
Hopefully it would be an improvement over the selectively dominating performance from Luxon fangurl, Jessica Mutch Mckay, on Tuesday.
Rebecca said she’d start with race, identity, what she called the big stuff. It was certainly the elephant in the room, with Marama Davidson and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer stood between Winston Peters on one side, and David Seymour on the other.
The first question was to David, asking why he wants to shut down ministries such as those for pacific people or women. He answered that it was all about fixing the economy. Which seemed like a load of rubbish considering how much he talks about closing them down, when you compare the tiny size of those ministries to the overall napalming of the public sector he wants to undertake.
Tell us the real reason, David.
He talked of ministries needing to represent all people - you sing it David - All Lives Matter! We hear you. Rebecca replied that people were different from each other, we weren’t just “economic units”. I was concerned that this idea of us not being economic units might be a bit much for David.
It did appear that the machine might have malfunctioned as bizarrely he then launched into talking about Kate Sheppard, that well renowned ACT enthusiast. Before finishing off by wrapping himself in the Treaty of Waitangi, as the defender of its principles. Rebecca noted that Marama Davidson, standing next to him, looked as if she might have something to say in response.
“The fact is David denies the discrimination, the inbuilt systemic racism that has been happening. I too would love an Aotearoa that truly treats everyone the same, it hasn’t”, replied Marama. David tried to interject but she was not having it and gave him the full palm to say he’d had his turn, now it was her turn. “What David wants to strip away are the very agencies who work to highlight that unfairness, and that injustice, has occurred.”
Debbie pointed out that if it was about saving money, then why not look at the 2,500 people working at MBIE. Which I thought was a bloody good point. David Seymour tried to interrupt her as well, but she wasn’t having it either. Perhaps the moderator needed some sort of time out? To send Seymour to the naughty step for five minutes?
Then we came to Winston Peters. Rebecca pointed out he’d campaigned against things like Māori names for government departments, bilingual road signs, he’s said Māori are not indigenous, and has even called Seymour “an accidental Māori”. The last bit got a bit of a laugh from the crowd, who were journalists, rather than the mannequins used in the TVNZ debate.
Rebecca asked if Peters wanted to “just disappear race in this country?” You never know what Winston will come up with these days, but I wasn’t expecting him to hold up the United States as the poster child for overcoming racial inequality and prejudice. His evidence was that America has had a black President, and has a black Vice President.
Cool story Uncle Winnie, tell it to Eric Garner.
According to Winston the biggest issue for Māori in places like the Hokianga is that they want the potholes fixed. Good grief Winston, is Simeon Brown writing your speeches? Rebecca asked what young Māori must think seeing a leader like Winston, with his platform, saying things like “Māori are not indigenous”.
Winston replied that a man in Rarotonga once said “welcome home” to him, so there you go then, case closed.
Debbie spoke of the fact that most New Zealanders had no issue with initiatives to improve outcomes for Māori, and scientists and experts agreed with the approaches being taken. It was just those who were race-baiting that made it an issue. So that turned the temperature in the place up a few degrees!
David denied that he had been baiting in this way and said “if he was proud of anything his party had done it was setting up Charter schools that could be used by Māori.” Best they are used by Māori, because there’s no way in hell wealthy pakeha are sending their kids to those holding pens for profit.
There was a period where they all yelled for a bit. Marama and Debbie told David that he was using race, David tried unsuccessfully to look innocent and claimed he wasn’t. Peters stayed out of it, other than making the odd snide remark at David, who he apparently dislikes even more than being called a racist.
Eventually Winston piped up that people needed to stop being so woke, and focussing on all this identity stuff. Even Rebecca was laughing at the absurdity of Winston, the biggest player of identity politics in the country, well, at least the biggest in a party likely to make it to parliament, railing against the very thing he does.
They moved to the economy. Marama was asked if it was time to tighten belts. She said actually there is an answer for those people struggling to put kai on the table. We have 311 people in this country who between them own 85 billion dollars, there is a political choice of whether to share that wealth or not.
Jesus that’ll be causing heart palpitations to the Nick Mowbrays and Graeme Harts of this world. Quick embattled billionaires, better donate another half a million or so to National and ACT.
Next were Te Pāti Māori’s tax policies, best look away billionaire boys, they aren’t mucking about! They want a higher top rate of income tax, a wealth tax, a foreign companies tax, a land banking tax, a vacant house tax, to increase the company tax rate, and to do more to chase tax evasion.
Rebecca said it wasn’t going to happen, but Marama replied “that isn’t up to you, that’s up to the voters”. Rebecca said that the two big parties would rule out their tax policies. Both Marama and Debbie indicated they couldn’t do that, then high fived in solidarity.
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