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Dr Muriel Newman

Dr Muriel Newman

The Year Ahead


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2016-17

2016 has been a year of significant political change. Establishment politics has been turned on its head. From the Brexit referendum in the UK, to the election of Donald Trump in the US, the shock waves kept coming. Pollsters and commentators alike got it wrong. These days, it seems, those who are disenchanted don’t always express their views until they are in the voting booth.

A survey taken after the Brexit vote by the British think tank Demos, has revealed there is a growing sense of uncertainty and gloom in Europe. A desire to reform the European Union is spreading, and trust in the establishment is in decline.

Significant groups in all countries either want to leave the EU or reduce its powers – 57 percent in Sweden, 55 percent in France, 41 percent in Spain, 40 percent in Poland, and 39 percent in Germany.

There is widespread pessimism about Europe’s prospects over the coming year.

France is the country most negative about its future – only 13 percent of those polled thought things would improve, while more than half expected a decline.

The survey also revealed low levels of trust in EU institutions.

Populist parties are riding a wave of discontent and nationalism, as economies have stagnated and concerns about migration, diversity, globalisation, and terrorism have grown.

In this political climate, 2017 will be a testing year for the European Union, as a number of countries are facing general elections.

Italy, the EU’s third largest economy, is on the verge of a banking collapse. It has just appointed its fifth Prime Minister in as many years. Last week’s resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi came after he lost a constitutional reform referendum to limit the power of the upper house. President Sergio Mattarella has now appointed the former foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, as interim Prime Minister, tasked with forming a new government and reviewing electoral laws, so that a new election can be held in the new year.

Italy’s political instability has played into the hands of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which is already the country’s second most popular party. In the forthcoming election it is expected to campaign for a referendum on Italian membership of the euro currency. An exit vote would be a significant blow to the unity of the European Union.

The Dutch general election is scheduled for March 15th. Geert Wilders’ ‘far-right’ Freedom Party is leading in the polls and is expected to do well. He believes the Dutch should not have to pay for the “stupidity” of Angela Merkel, in opening Germany’s doors to Syrian refugees. If he becomes Prime Minister, he has pledged to hold a referendum on Dutch membership of the EU.

The French Presidential elections are scheduled for the 23rd of April. If the anti-establishment Front Nationale leader Marine Le Pen wins, she will call for a “Frexit” referendum to leave the EU. Many believe her election would signal the beginning of the end of the European Union.

The German elections are to be held in September, when reigning chancellor Angela Merkel will try for a fourth term. It is reported that the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland, led by Frauke Petry, is gaining ground and that the far-right is on the rise.

Next year is also when the UK will begin the process of leaving the EU. Article 50 is scheduled to be invoked by the end of March, provided the move is not blocked by the Supreme Court. The exit is expected to take two years and will be followed by a General Election in 2020.

The warning signs of the widespread dissatisfaction with mainstream politics, that is now evident throughout Europe, appears to have been largely ignored by staunch European leaders. A breakup of the eurozone cannot be ruled out, and a collapse of the European Union itself has now become a distinct possibility.

With our General Election scheduled for later next year – Saturday the 18th of November is the last possible date – the question for us, is whether similar forces are at play in New Zealand. Clearly opposition parties will be hoping so, but I suspect they will be disappointed.

In short, New Zealand is not subjected to the main pressures facing European countries. Our economy is not stagnant, but strong. And while record numbers of migrants are coming into the country, they are not refugees of unknown backgrounds, but Kiwis returning home from the slump in Australia, and immigrant workers coming here for jobs.

New Zealanders do have serious concerns about the state of the country, of course, and we will hear a lot more about these next year, as opposition parties try their best to convince us that we need a new government.

But the “sleeper” issue in New Zealand is race relations. The fact is that ‘race’ is now being used to grant statutory privilege to advance the wealth of a relatively small group of iwi leaders. It is an issue that may present a surprise result at next year’s election. It is also an issue the Labour-Greens bloc will ignore, as they too kowtow to Maori interests.

What is unknown at this stage is whether the Prime Minister will adopt the principled approach he had when he was last National’s leader and advocate for one standard of citizenship and the abolition of the Maori seats – or whether he will opt for short-term, and short-sighted, political convenience.

Irrespective of his long term approach, there is a more urgent matter that he will need to address.

Last month, the NZCPR reported on how the Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith, had included the iwi leaders’ new race-based provision Mana Whakahono a Rohe in the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill – after the public submission process was over.

By deliberately denying public consultation on such a radical measure, the Minister has manipulated the Parliamentary process for the benefit of an interest group that, as a result, stands to make significant financial gain in the future.

According to iwi leaders, these amendments will give them full power and control over tribal areas or ‘rohe’, including “the handling of resource consent applications, notification decisions, monitoring and enforcement”.

With tribal areas essentially covering the whole country, and some councils having to deal with up to 20 different iwi, Nick Smith’s changes are a recipe for disruption, costs and delays.

In fact, reports are already emerging of the sorts of problems that could be expected. In this case, an iwi is reported to be disrupting a council plan to implement a ‘Healthy Rivers’ initiative, that covers over a million hectares, because they claim it could affect their tribal ‘rohe’:

“A legal battle is shaping up over the future direction of the Healthy Rivers plan following Waikato Regional Council’s decision to pull part of the catchment from the plan until iwi issues are dealt with. Despite the Hauraki region not being included in the Healthy Rivers plan, Hauraki iwi were claiming rohe (ancestral land) running through north Waikato to the river’s mouth near Tuakau, was captured by the plan. They had threatened legal action against the council for a lack of consultation. The council then opted to withdraw the affected 120,000ha, amounting to about 11% of the plan’s catchment area, from the plan.”

The situation has been described as a complete mess, with judicial reviews being planned to halt the process, until the fiasco with the iwi is sorted out.

But without a doubt, this is a portend of what’s to come, if National goes ahead and includes tribal self-determination in the RMA.

The NZCPR believes Nick Smith’s actions are an affront to democracy and the Parliamentary process. The Bill should be withdrawn.

Looking forward, with less than a year to go until our election, how do the parties stack up?

The latest Roy Morgan poll puts the National Party at 49.5 percent, with Labour and the Greens combined on 37.5 percent. Labour was on 23 percent, their lowest level for two years, and the Greens were on 14.5 percent. New Zealand First was on 8 percent, the Maori Party on 1.5 percent, ACT on 1 percent, and United Future on 0.5 percent.

The poll also puts the Government’s confidence rating at its highest level for nearly two years, with 65 percent of New Zealanders saying the country is ‘heading in the right direction’, compared to only 24 percent who thought it is ‘heading in the wrong direction’.

This situation is a quite different from the 2014 election, when, at a year out, Roy Morgan essentially had National and a Labour-Greens coalition equal on 45 percent.

And, a year out from the 2011 election, National was on 48.5 percent, while Labour and the Greens were on 42 percent.

Unfortunately for the opposition, Treasury’s Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update, which was released last week, paints a very rosy picture of the future, with rising wages, strong growth, and growing surpluses. While the Kaikoura earthquake will impact on the current year’s budget surplus, by 2019, the surplus is expected to be $5.4 billion, and by 2021, $8.5 billion.

The more positive outlook is being attributed to a booming construction sector, strong tourist numbers, a rising population, and low interest rates. Growth this year is expected to be 3.6 percent, and unemployment is expected to continue to fall – to 4.3 per cent by 2021.

Clearly, the situation in New Zealand is very different from that in Europe. While our MMP voting system dissipates discontented voters across a number of parties, Governments still need to be aware of growing disillusionment and the possibility that voter dissatisfaction can become ‘contagious’.

As we turn the final page on 2016, the resignation of John Key, has given the new Prime Minister the opportunity, to not only reshuffle Cabinet, but to re-examine policy positions as well.

It seems likely that National under Bill English will differentiate itself by being more focussed on policy than it was in the past. And, I suspect, that as the general election draws closer, it will be more pragmatic in looking for parties to work with in the future.

Finally, two weeks ago, we looked at how Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Gareth Morgan, and the Iwi Leaders group, all want replace democracy as we know it with a new written constitution based on the Treaty of Waitangi. Sir Geoffrey is seeking submissions on his draft constitution, before amending it and presenting it to the Government for consideration. We urged readers to consider making a submission to ensure he receives a representative range of views.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, former Judge and law lecturer Anthony Willy, has kindly provided an excellent analysis of Sir Geoffrey’s proposed constitution for readers. On the inclusion of the Treaty, he says:

“The authors don’t appear to recognise the inconsistency in abolishing the Monarch as our head of state on the one hand and enshrining the Treaty of Waitangi in a written constitution on the other. The document which the authors wish to become the basis of our right to be in New Zealand was a compact between the British monarch and a number of tribal Chiefs who purported to bind the members of their various tribes in exchanging mutual promises. To call it a ‘treaty’ is a misnomer. At international law Treaties can only be made between sovereign states. At the time of the signing of this document there was no recognised sovereign governing the lands of New Zealand. At best therefore the document is little more than an agreement under seal between consenting parties.”

You can read the full forthright appraisal in “Sir Geoffrey’s last monument” HERE.

On that note, we will wish you all the best for the festive season, and sign off for the year … in the hope that you will support the NZCPR so our newsletters can continue in 2017. 

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THIS WEEK’S POLL ASKS:

Do you think National is more likely to work with NZ First now that Bill English is the new PM?

Vote x 120

*Poll comments are posted below.

 

*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.

Click to view x 120

THIS WEEK’S POLL COMMENTS

A new wolf in the same sheep’s clothing. Steady as we go Robert
What other choice has he got? Mitch
I certainly hope they will be be willing to work with NZ. first, because I see the same spirit of socialism invading Nz. as in America with 8 years under Obama. Dene
I sure hope so – If it provides a mechanism whereby our Parliament does not have to bow to the wishes of the Iwi leaders and their grasping claims of ‘partnership. Caarl
My guess is that National will need New Zealand First in order to win the next election. However based on past performance I would not trust Winston to go along with what the National Party want to do. He will demand a post or agreement that will position him as close to the top as possible. Deputy PM at least. Ernest
The Brexit and Trump results were a vote against democracy itself, mainly by uninformed, disgruntled protest voters who wanted to hit back against the usual government establishment. They seem to have forgotten that no matter who you vote for, the government gets in. Many people feel relief that 2016 will soon be over, but in 2017 Trump will actually become President and the UK will invoke article 50. If Trump implements any of the policies he promised, he will alienate half of America; if he doesn’t implement all of them, he will alienate the other half. If the uk really does start the process to leave the EU, it faces years of hard negotiation and political and economic turmoil. In both countries, 2016 might seem the last good year they ever had. In New Zealand, our democracy is being attacked by the institutional racism of unelected appointees and favouring Maori over non-Maori. Do New Zealand, America, or the UK want to become like Russia? Because that is the future we face if we do not stand up NOW for democracy. Be in no doubt: this is due to one thing only, and that is the evil nonsense of political correctness. Political correctness is the mechanism used to attack democracy here in New Zealand and the UK and Europe (the situation in Russia and America is different). If we replace political correctness with old-fashioned common sense, it will be possible to save democracy in New Zealand otherwise NOT. In America and the UK, democracy is threatened by anti-establishment sentiment, whereas here the threat is from public indifference to what is really happening. Complacent, blinkered New Zealanders need to understand what a disaster it would be to lose our democracy. We seem to be more interested in saving dolphins. In both cases, democracy and dolphins, once they are gone, it is too late to get them back. We need to WAKE UP! G
Yes, or at least they should. Acknowledge that it is time to move away from the Maori party that has more than enough support. I do not mean that in a bad way. Richard
I certainly hope so. That might sort out the racist aspects that seem to have recently found their way into the RMA! Laurie
I don’t think Bill English has got the balls to stand up to the maori elite, or to give the ordinary people a vision of equality for all of us. But hears hoping. Ian
If they don’t they won’t be the government. Michael
At least I hope so, much better than with the Maori party. It was always a shame Key never got the message that the Maori party were only in power for themselves, self centred greedy grasping group of people. Audrey
I rather hope this will be the case if a ‘hung parliament’ is the alternative, because NZ First a absolutely against race-based policies. That should halt buth Nick Smith’s misguided effort with the RMA and also Sir jeffery’s attempts to put an ‘agreement’ between to parties into a future NZ Constitution. I hope so anyway. John
Hopefully he will see the error of shonkeys way and dump the racist maoris, hook up with winston and end all this treaty garbage. Stevo
And he should so we can get rid of the Maori Party. David
I can only hope that there will be a meeting of the minds between the National Party and NZ First, particularly regarding equality for all under the law, the removal of all race-based preferential treatment and the amendment of all Acts and Regulations giving the right for Maori descendants to have non-elected participation in local government and the requirement to be consulted on anything which in their opinion will impact on iwi/hapu. Treaty settlements and need to be ended, the Waitangi Tribunal shut down and the RMA amended to treat all New Zealanders equally. Michael
It would certainly be preferable to work with NZ First than the Maori Party, so long as Winston doesn’t have too much say in the running of the Government. The best idea is too keep working towards the abolition of the Maori seats and the removal of MMP. Chris
They will probably have to work with someone so NZ First is a possibility. Let’s hope that they don’t go with the Maori Party or the loony Greens. Alan
Yes, not ideal but keep as far away from the GREENS as possible. Don
I’ve said yes but I don’t know. I certainly hope so they would be better off than working with the Maori party. John
National will have to work with Peters if they want to remain in government but it will be on Peters terms and we can only hope that Peters will enforce a one people rule and eliminate Nationals pandering to Maori. Don
Govt should be democratically and proportionally oriented not party allied to form a sort of first past the post coalition. NZ First should NOT prop up a National government nor a Labour government. Government should be electorate driven, not party policy driven which is really where government acts as a puppet to overseas political and corporate interests. Bryan
Hope so, may affect some necessary changes in Racial Policies. Steve
English is an empty-headed egotist. Andy
To draw voters away from labour, as John Key did by drawing Maori voters away from labour in the past! Theodorus
Much as I hate to admit it I would rather National worked with NZ First to retain the Treasury benches than the Maori Party. Kevin
We sincerely hope so. Nationals ties to the Maori Party have resulted in bad legislation which will have an ongoing deleterious effect on our nation. Brian
Highly unlikely but Never say Never. Terry
Without NZ first National don’t have a dogs show of holding the Treasury benches after the next election. Rod
You bet, and if they do, I hope that NZ Firsts anti Maori policy is first thing on the agenda. Athol
Yes, but it also depends on whether or not Winston will work with National. If National wants Peters’ support they will have to cut loose from the Maori Party and the unelected Iwi leaders group. Maori have done very well under the Key governments, especially as National campaigned two elections ago on abolishing the Maori seats. Bringing a very much minority party on board was simply a matter of political convenience, but it has now become a millstone with influence far beyond its share of the vote. National, learn from Brexit, USA and some EU countries, and don’t take majorities in the polls for granted if you want to win the 2017 election with a workable majority. Don’t count on my vote/s if you persist with allowing the Maori Party and iwi leaders to have their own way. Laurence
Winston has apparently set his sights on sharing the prime minister position. I cannot see National/English agreeing to this; however, Labour might jump at the opportunity to harness Winston’s winning touch. Hugh
Such a move would be a last, last resort. It would be an alliance that seriously weakens the processes of governance. Bruce
I hope so. Peter
Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but I certainly hope that with a new PM and cabinet the National government will work, at least to a degree, with New Zealand First. Their leader (like all politicians) might be a bit of a “screaming skull” sometimes but he also speaks a lot of sense. I would hope also that we might see some move away from the unwarranted racial privilege being imposed by non-elected part-Maori persons sitting, with voting rights, on local councils, the imposition of controls by part-Maori in the Resource Management Act, and the outdated imposition of Maori Seats in Parliament. Far from being supportive and helpful for under-achieving members of our society the creeping disease of racial privilege will be more and more divisive for New Zealanders and their country. Rob
This depends on his managing too prove he is prepared to stand up to and reign in the moves to give powers to the IWI elite. Bryan
Must certainly not work with the Moari party. Wendy
This is a yes possibly as Mr English has never really shown his personality, therefore, hard to judge. Beryl
It’s going to be a numbers game and depends on how dissatisfaction with the govt works out, where the conservative party vote goes. Will Winston pick up votes from discontented National party members. Arthur
They MUSTwork together. The Maori Party(thanks John Key) have had National over a barrel for 8 years. The caving in to their selfish, greedy demands MUST STOP. C’mon Winston! Carolyn
I think not. Were Peters to resign, then the attractiveness of N Z First may well change. In my view, Peters’ party should be renamed “Me first before New Zealand”. Peter
Hopefully John
The only way that NZ can progress is by excluding the racist maori party from any influence. By having NZ First as a partner for National is the only way this separatist madness can be remedied. Need to get rid of that idiot list mp Findlayson. It has proven to be dangerous for a list mp to be given such wide ranging influence. I don’t trust the guy and I believe he has a “feather my own nest” policy to the country’s detriment. Neil
Go Winnie! Wally
I hope so. Winston will ensure that everybody is treated equally. Dennis
JK said he wouldn’t work with Winston but Bill did not say that. Bill may have no choice. Paul
Bill English has seen over a long period how difficult Winston can be to work with. remember how it took over 8 weeks to reach agreement last time national included him. He is mainly interested in what he can best get for himself. Peter
It will be needed if National wishes to form a realistic coalition government. Tom
Probably. But NZ is not going to progress until we sort out the one-person,one-vote, with the emphasis on VOTE, and dispose of the preferential treatment for iwi. who should have to get in line just like the rest of us.. The introduced preferences., unelected representations, the grievance industry (and its hangers on) and other “favours” will take us backwards instead of forwards. NZ First will simply compound the problems., but yes, they will work together to fight it out? won’t this be fun? Mabel
Winston is a brave man who deserves respect for voicing the feelings that many, me included, are to timid ( fearful) to say. Peter
Hopefully they will. John Key has dug himself into a big hole he couldn’t get out of. Bill English has the opportunity now to climb out of the hole. Rod
I certainly hope so, and I also hope the new PM listens more to what the populace has to say about giving Maoti Iwi leaders equal rights in any constitutional changes that might be proposed. Donald
I have my fingers crossed mainly because – at least on rhetoric – Winston will stand up to the Maoris with all their demands, grandstanding and the division they have been allowed to cause in NZ and in legislation for too long!! Frank
That would be positive. Edward
Think Bill will have his feet on the ground a bit more and not be in fairy land. Russell
Yes hopefully National will listen to NZ First and change to his policies that he has been saying over the years that sadly have come true that have got us into this currant mess. Ron
Not very likely, as they are committed to Maori Nationalism, and the United Nations policy on furthering Indigenous Rights. It is obvious that they will continue down this pathway; as they can give Maori anything they want in return for their Parliamentary support as they will never have to face the future consequences of their policy. In turn Maori are happy to have the whip with a Political Party that accedes so easily to their demands. The question asked could be rephrased ‘Do you think National will have to work with NZ First if that Party holds the balance of power after the next election? Or alternatively, if NZ First holds the balance of power after the next election will THEY be able to work with National’s present Maori Policy? Apart from crystal ball gazing, a lot depends on how the public react to the polls, and state this country is in financially at the time. At the moment NZ is in a strong position domestically, but little mention or government attention has been given to increasing our exports. TPP is now a dead duck; it did not float very much before the Trump election except perhaps in the minds of our politicians. To just maintain our standard of living our exports must increase by a least 8% on an annual basis; and our dollar is likely to rise to counteract inflation and in concert with other nations in the future. Brian
More in hope than in confidence. David
I voted yes, but I hope it never happens, Winston Peters is political charlatan a wannabe prime minster who is never going to be, wish the people would wake up to him. Les
Who knows? – But I hope so! Mark
It will be NZ’s only way out of the mess National is foisting on the NZ public. Barry
If they get rid of ALL iwi registration there’s SUPPOSED to be ONE LAW FOR EVERYONE but Nick Smith, John Key ETC have given in to iwi. Cindy
Hopefully, if N.Z.First campaign on, & keep their promise to insist on ONE LAW FOR ALL, National will have no option but to work with Winston. As National have moved so far to the LEFT, piling more compliance & regulations on the productive sector than the GREENS could have wished for in their wildest dreams, for example. It won’t really matter which of the major parties are in office, provided a third Party has enough votes to keep them honest.. A.G.R.
I really hope so, not to do so will push us closer to a very racist government that can only lead to Aparthied principles. Bill
No sure really English is a pussy Should have been Judith Collins. Greg
If he wants to stay in. Colin
Bill will have no option if he wants another year in charge. I think also it could be Winston as Prime Minister not Bill. John
He is as entrenched in Maorification through working with JK. Nick
Hope not. Winston is nothing short of a political stuntman who is extremely lazy when it comes to policy graft. Lee
NZ First has more than 4 times the support of the Maori party so we should get NZ First on board for some things. Andrew
Such a pairing would improve the lot of the middle and lower income earners and perhaps focus the govt more on the regions and slow the spending on Auckland infrastructure, a cost which should be borne more by AK ratepayers and not NZ taxpayers. Graeme
Winston is a freak who’s contribution would act to nullify the substance of whatever party he stood to join. Just like last time. Jim
Let’s hope so! Tony
With many compromises I would presume. Winston makes much noise but does not do much. Elizabeth
Yes NZF FIRST appeals more to voters. Bruce
Anything to keep the Greens and the Maoris at bay. Bruce
One hopes. Peter
And if National wants re-election it will need to do so. Andrew
It will not happen unless Winston Peters sticks to his policy that The Treaty of Waitangi must be removed from all legislation in NZ and is then given sufficient votes at the next election to have the power to implement this. Richard
The New Zealand National Party has always been more concerned with retaining power than with deeply held beliefs. Unless the polls show that the NZ public have suddenly become extremely concerned with the country%u2019s slide towards apartheid, Bill English will continue to work with the Maori party rather than NZ First. John
Yes, BUT Bill English will have to accept how Brexit, EEC and the USA have and are continuing to express massive unease at today’s bloated bureaucracy, PC nonsense, and ‘climate change’ which has always been part of earths billions of years development; and lead this nation forward. NOT more of the same old same old! Stuart
They’d better if they have any sense. Winston Peters has more insight and apparent concern for all NZers than Nation have. Colin
National need to move away from dependence on the Maori party. Tony
English under Key clearly supported deals with Iwi leaders. Accordingly I believe he will continue with such deals ahead of trying to cooperate with Peters. A leopard doesn’t change its spots! (It would appear that the cabinet changes proposed will mean business as usual). Alan
I hope so as Winston Peters is the only party to say that wants to see the end of Maori Privilege. It’s a great chance get rid of the Maori seats and Tell the greedy Iwi to get stuffed. Colin
Metaphorically speaking, ALL political parties are w****s. They’ll hop into bed with anyone to gain power. Geoff
Are we stupid its the same govt with a new face. See who have gone some of them know there is a change coming and it is inevitable.WINSTON with his common sense and wisdom is getting through. cheers Lance
Has to happen for the future of this country. Donald
They will work with any party to try and hold power. Jim
Possible – though the man at the top does not dictate the road the party travels upon. Tom
NZ First may or may not be elected in the 2017 election. It then depends on whether or not the current leader of NZ First is still alive and, if not, who will replace him. There are sufficient quandaries, but it would need to be that the State has to have the options open to it. Neil
Yes, Bill English has been a politician long enough to be able to work with anyone. Andy
Race relations and Winston Peters were John Key’s blind spots! Dianna
Yes, National will be keen to work with NZF, but Winston will lead him on a ‘hard to get’ chase! Brian
If Labour continue to decline, National will probably be able to govern alone. Roger
I think it will be English as PM and Winston as the deputy PM! Peter