Poland and Germany agreeing is always a good thing, isn’t it?

The second leg of the post-Brexit stakes is taking place on the tank-friendly North German plain.

Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has overruled some aspects of EU law that it deems incompatible with the country’s constitution.  This has brought down the execration of the EU establishment on the grounds that EU law has primacy over all national law.

Continue reading “Poland and Germany agreeing is always a good thing, isn’t it?”

Why Collins must ignore critics who claim she is playing the race card and keep challenging the PM on the meaning of “partnership”

Left-wing commentators are cock-a-hoop.  Labour is up 2.7% to 52.7%; National is up 1.4% to 27%; the Greens are down 0.8%; ACT is down 0.7%.

In the latest preferred leader poll results, Jacinda Ardern is down a bit but Judith Collins’s support has gone down by two thirds.

On The Daily Blog, Martyn Bradbury posted an item under the heading Why National’s Māori segregation bashing has failed in the polls.

He seized on the responses when TV3 asked voters if they thought Labour was being separatist, and National divisive… Continue reading “Why Collins must ignore critics who claim she is playing the race card and keep challenging the PM on the meaning of “partnership””

Capital thinking on decolonisation – give voting rights to tribal appointees on council committees and mute the voice of non-Maori

Eight Wellington City Councillors – given the critical constitutional choice of Treaty partnership or democracy – yesterday voted in favour of further undermining the council’s democratic election and decision-making structures by granting voting rights to the representatives appointed by Maori tribes to sit on council committees.

Only six councillors voted against an arrangement to allow one representative from each of Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira to sit on most council committees and subcommittees with full voting rights from 1 July.

The council will reimburse each tribe by paying an annual fee, equivalent to the remuneration of a full time elected member, which is currently $111,225.

Some councillors egregiously magnified their anti-democratic instincts by rebuking the Mayor (as the Dominion-Post reports) for

“ … putting forward an amendment calling for the ‘significant’ change to be put out for public feedback before going to a council vote.”

Curiously, the words “significant” has been put in quotes.

Does the newspaper think otherwise?

Apparently yes, because its report of this governance vote (relegated to Page 4 this morning)  focused on Mayor Andy Foster being accused of “delay tactics” for suggesting the proposal be taken to the public for discussion.

One councillor, Jenny Condie, said the proposal did not require formal public feedback because it would be “rectifying an injustice”.

But shouldn’t the public be allowed to assess the nature of this injustice and influence the remedy? Continue reading “Capital thinking on decolonisation – give voting rights to tribal appointees on council committees and mute the voice of non-Maori”

Moaning Meghan triggers howls for our Head of State to be cut off – and a blogger proposes a 50:50 race-based upper house

Newshub was among the many media who seized on Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s accusations directed at the royal family to put the spotlight on the Queen’s role as New Zealand’s head of state.

Many here and throughout the Commonwealth think it’s another step towards severing the ties, Newshub reported, especially in the light of a remark that triggered the belief the Royal Family is racist:

But The Daily Blog’s Martyn Bradbury took considerations beyond whether New Zealand should become a republic and proposed entrenching the so-called “Treaty Partnership” into an overhaul of our constitutional arrangements.

An Upper House would be established.  Half the seats would be filled by Maori, giving governmental expression to what “partnership” really means.

The clamour for constitutional change largely stemmed from remarks that were highlighted early in the Newshub report:

During the pair’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan claimed there had been “concerns and conversations” about how dark the colour of baby Archie’s skin would be when he was born. The Duchess of Sussex said that the issue had been raised with Harry, who relayed the information back to her.

So somebody unnamed said something to Harry, who mentioned it to the duchess, who now has told the world, but without identifying the person who made the remark or explaining the context in which it was said. Continue reading “Moaning Meghan triggers howls for our Head of State to be cut off – and a blogger proposes a 50:50 race-based upper house”

Democracy or partnership – which do we want, because we can’t have both?

Guest Post

By Barrie Saunders

The departure of Donald Trump from the White House was a victory for the US democratic system, which only just succeeded.   If then Vice President Mike Pence had wavered under enormous pressure from President Trump and his cult-like supporters, Joe Biden might not be in the White House and there would have been serious civil disorder. 

The Republicans haven’t given up;  they are now trying to make voting more difficult in several states.  Democracy is a model under threat from many quarters, and it is losing around the world.

It is easy to forget how recently democracy has become mainstream.  In Britain women over the age of 21 only got the vote in 1928 and in the US, universal suffrage only became accessible to all Afro-Americans in the last 55 years because, prior to the 1960s voting reforms, there was serious voter suppression in parts of the country.  Some former East European countries like Hungary have retreated from the democratic model and others like Greece and Italy have struggled to deal with major economic challenges.

At present New Zealand has a quality democracy.   We have fairly-drawn electorates, an easy voting system, and a reasonable level of political literacy.  Money struggles to buy Government policy, which is all as it should be. 

However, we have no reason to be smug, because this democracy is under threat. Governments since 1987 and the Courts have been entrenching a modern view that the Treaty of Waitangi means there is an ongoing “partnership between the Government and Iwi”. Continue reading “Democracy or partnership – which do we want, because we can’t have both?”

America’s Supreme Court battle is refreshingly clear and largely predictable

There is much talk about whether the Republicans should try to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of the late Justice Ginsburg.  And much of it misses the point.

Leave aside the diversions about not filling vacancies during an election campaign or leaving it to the next president. Justices are appointed through a characteristically American political negotiation between the President and a Senate majority.  If by chance they are in strong agreement, then it is nolo contendere.

The Democrats are entitled to be grumpy that the laws of chance have not worked in their favour.  But politics does not have much room for ‘our turn now’ arguments, particularly when there is no indication that they would keep playing by the rules.

Continue reading “America’s Supreme Court battle is refreshingly clear and largely predictable”

Scotland forever – but in or out of the UK?

It may rank as one of the most surprising and/or least effective public health measures adopted during the pandemic.  But Scotland’s devolved government has outlawed background music in hotels and restaurants because it might encourage people to raise their voices.

Indeed, the Scottish administration has sometimes ostentatiously gone out of its way to take a different path to that trodden by Boris Johnson’s national government. Meanwhile, opinion polling support for Scottish independence is rising.

Using the pandemic to beat the drum for Scottish independence must irritate those who prefer science-based consistency.  But they probably need to get used to it. Continue reading “Scotland forever – but in or out of the UK?”

The US Supreme Court does its bit to make the case for Trump

The US Supreme Court’s recent decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been discussed mainly in terms of its impact on the Trump administration’s immigration policy.  It’s a demonstration of the importance of the court’s role in America’s separation-of-powers regime.  And it says something about the current relationship between the law and politics in the US.

The substance of the case concerned one president’s ability (Trump’s) to use his executive powers to roll back another president’s (Obama’s) executive decisions. Continue reading “The US Supreme Court does its bit to make the case for Trump”

Bill Clinton’s nemesis is now defending Donald Trump

One of the more compelling moments in the Trump impeachment proceedings was Monday’s defence statement by former Solicitor General and federal Court of Appeals judge, Ken Starr.  That is Ken Starr, the court-appointed special prosecutor who investigated former President Bill Clinton when he was in office, and whose report provided the basis for the unsuccessful attempt to impeach him.

Starr’s role in the current trial – for which he is perhaps uniquely qualified – was to provide a judicial historical perspective.

Nearing the end of what, in less partisan circumstances, would be termed a long and distinguished career, his presentation was more academic colloquium than rigorous interrogation of the facts.  One might almost think that he sees his role as an officer of the court, rather than an advocate. Continue reading “Bill Clinton’s nemesis is now defending Donald Trump”