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It’s Official: National Party oust Labour in New Zealand Election

November 16th, 2008 at 09:25pm

Congratulations to John Key, who has just secured his spot as New Zealand Prime Minister

A new minority government in New Zealand will be sworn in this week after John Key, prime minister-elect and leader of the conservative National Party, signed power-sharing agreements with three other parties.
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples was appointed Minister of Maori Affairs and his colleague Tariana Turia Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, a new portfolio designed to give wide-ranging responsibility for the welfare of her people, who are the most disadvantaged sector of the population.

Key admitted the two parties held opposing views in some areas and conceded his new government was moving into “uncharted territory”. But he said he was confident the relationship was built on mutual respect and trust, and would last for the three-year commitment to the next election.
As a result of the agreements finalised on Sunday, the Nationals are now guaranteed 70 of the 122 seats in the House of Representatives.

The Maori and the free market ACT parties – who each won five seats – and the sole United Future member Peter Dunne, agreed to support the Nationals on all critical votes in exchange for ministerial posts outside the cabinet.

The agreements said that by staying outside cabinet, the ministers would be free to present their parties’ policies where they differed with the government on areas that were not within their portfolios.

The Maori Party leaders were also made associate ministers for health, education, social development and employment – all areas they identified as important for the nation’s 565,000 Maoris, who account for about 15 per cent of the population.

This sounds like a very interesting experiment, especially considering that former National Party leader Don Brash had a policy that would have abolish the seven seats in parliament reserved for Maoris, removed their traditional indigenous rights and scraped the government’s obligation to consult them on new legislation. That was four years ago, so one does have to wonder how many supporters of that policy are left in the party, and what sort of strain that could place on this seemingly fragile coalition.


Entry Filed under: General News

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1 Comment

  • 1. davky  |  November 17th, 2008 at 8:51 am

    The Maori vs Everyone Else dichotomy in New Zealand is fascinating to watch as an outsider.

    e.g. on election night, a Maori Party candidate spoke to the Kiwi radio station whose stream I was listening to and said ‘Our supporters consider themselves Maori first and New Zealanders second.’

    I just couldn’t imagine this kind of statement going down well in Australia. The Daily Telegraph would be all over it in a flash. Alan Jones’ knickers would be in their tightest-possible knot. Yet, in this NZ broadcast it was just met with a moment’s awkward silence and then the conversation moved on.

    The concept of reserving a certain number of allocated seats in parliament which can only be voted on by one ethnicity is one which would be considered racist and absurd in Australia. Although, I note that the way the NZ Parliament elects its members makes these seats ineffective (unless there is some extraordinarily odd and marginal electoral outcome – but their system makes this unlikely.)

    Interesting, indeed.


November 2008

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