25 Aug 2009

Maori seats issue not over yet

8:33 am on 25 August 2009

Prime Minister John Key says the Cabinet's decision not to allow Maori seats on the Auckland super-council does not mean there can't be such seats at a later date.

Mr Key announced on Monday that there will be no provision made for the seats in the legislation which is currently before Parliament.

He is offering an advisory committee as a substitute.

Mr Key told Morning Report there are already provisions under the Local Government Act for either a referendum or for any council to decide to put Maori seats in place of their own free will.

Maori Party co-leader, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, told the programme the process is not over until Parliament votes on the legislation.

He is now asking that the vote be made a conscience issue.

Dr Sharples believes many in the Government support the idea of Maori seats for Auckland and may welcome a conscience vote.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide told Morning Report his threat to resign his portfolios still stands if Maori seats are approved by Parliament.

Commissioner's view

One of the Royal Commissioners who examined governance in Auckland, says the Cabinet's decision is a cop-out.

Royal Commission member David Shand says the new city will suffer.

He says the recommendation from the Commissioners was not about consultation with Maori, but about making sure Maori participate and their voice is heard.

Mr Shand says the Cabinet has not paid attention to the commission and the decision is a bad one.

Mr Key says an advisory committee will offer better representation.

However, Maori Party co-leader, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, says he's brassed off with the Cabinet's decision.

Dr Sharples says such a committee is a poor, worthless and toothless subsitute for proper democratic representation for tangata whenua.

Other comment

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams says a few white Pakeha have made a decision for New Zealand, short-circuiting democracy.

Mr Williams says overseas Parliaments would be aghast and he likens the decision to politics in Fiji.

Waitakere deputy mayor Penny Hulse says the Cabinet was held to ransom by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide.