Following on from his speech at Turangawaewae on Sunday, TOP leader Gareth Morgan took the battle around the hypocrisy of Labour and Greens standing in Maori seats, into the election debate arena last night.
On the first televised election debate of the season on Maori Television last night, he gave Kelvin Davis both barrels
( see full debate here).
Gareth’s argument is that under MMP mainstream parties have no ethical grounds for trying to win the Maori seats off those Maori parties with kaupapa Maori at the core of their existence. He argues it’s nothing more than carpetbagging on the part of these two establishment parties who are all too ready to ditch their ethics in their grab for power.
His target last night was Kelvin Davis who he said faces a continual conflict of interest representing Labour in the Te Tai Tokerau seat. The issue he picked on to illustrate his point was freshwater where he noted that everyone in last night’s debate agreed that under Article 2 Maori own the water. Yet he argued Kelvin has the audacity to stand there and promote Labour’s official position that “everybody” owns the water. Kelvin’s position is clearly illogical, Morgan argued – to think that all the people of his Maori electorate would be arguing Maori don’t own the water is unconscionable, a totally hypocritical position for Kelvin to champion. His position is untenable, it makes him look foolish.
Predictably Mr Davis took the argument as a personal insult, an assault on his whakapapa. It’s nothing of the sort retorted Morgan, it’s a critique of his personal hypocrisy, the silly position he’s in, one of an almost continual conflict of interest. If he wants to stand for a mainstream party, then do it in the general seats and not exploit his tikanga Maori heritage to represent the interests of the other treaty signatory.
The reaction to Gareth’s point from Kelvin and James Shaw of the Greens reached the absurd, with them both arguing that the separatist position Gareth’s logic was using then implied Maori shouldn’t stand in general seats. Of course that’s just nuts, Gareth said Article 3 and really illustrates how little these guys understand about why we have the Maori seats. They are there for Maori to have direct representation in parliament, and have to stay there until the treaty is fully honoured in our constitution, which is part of TOP’s democracy reform.
“If truth be known these guys haven’t actually thought this deeply about how silly their parties look – both Labour and the Greens are so desperate for power they’ve sacrificed their morality at the altar of that quest. The reality is indisputable – Kelvin needs to decide – does he want to represent the Maori of Te Tai Tokerau or does he want to stand for an old establishment party. He’s trying to do both and that is pure, unadulterated hypocrisy.