The Right Needs to Reject He Puapua Outright, To Preserve Democracy

With the election in three months, it is timely to be reminded of how this election will be fundamentally important to preserving democracy in New Zealand and the repudiation of He Puapua.

I have previously written on this issue in 2021 and 2022, however the reality is becoming clear and it is time to reflect on what is at stake. My focus has been on drawing attention to understanding how dangerous a Labour/Greens/Te Pati Māori coalition will be to democracy, especially with the implementation of He Puapua. I have openly stated that such a coalition will see the death of democracy by the 2026 election, if this coalition is formed in 2023. Chris Trotter has highlighted the issue of whether the right will have the will, or conviction to overturn the legislation Labour has introduced since 2020, using the recommendations from the 2019 He Puapua report.

Not only must National and Act win the 2023 election, but they need to overturn the legislation Labour has introduced from 2020-23, as they have promised.  Chris Trotter does not believe the right have either the ability or the will to do so. Therefore, they will help consign democracy to the scrapheap. Why?

Chris Trotter states, “The re-foundation of New Zealand (a name which the new Labour-Green government will likely consign to the dustbin of history) will make it virtually impossible for the traditional Right to stage a comeback – at least democratically. Why? Because there will be literally nowhere for the force of a right-wing majority to be brought to bear. The restoration of the status quo ante will, constitutionally, cease to be an option.”*1

For this to happen, a Labour/Greens/Te Pati Māori coalition will need to be elected in 2023 to finish what Labour started in 2020. If this is not achieved, National may not have the will to reverse those initial changes. Trotter sights how the National government failed to overturn Rogernomics in 1990. Labour had instituted an economic revolution in New Zealand between 1984-1990, and National chose not to revoke it. As Trotter says, this is how revolutions begin from a top-down process.

“More importantly, consider the behaviour of the National Party following the 1990 General Election. In spite of Jim Bolger’s promise to restore the “decent society,” his National Government refused to unwind the economic changes of Roger Douglas and his allies. Indeed, the National Party’s Finance Minister, Ruth Richardson, ably assisted by Jenny Shipley and Bill Birch, turned out to be the one which placed the capstone on the Neoliberal Revolution. By 1993, the social-democratic state erected by the First Labour Government and its successors had been almost entirely dismantled.”*2

As Trotter argues, public servants, business leaders, academics and journalists will control the work started by Labour and ensure the revolutionary process continues, whether National like it or not. Consequently, to ensure National do not waiver from their pre-election promises of revoking what Labour has started, the right need Act (and heaven forbid NZ First), to hold National to account. If they do not, then all will be lost.

“That’s why 2023 is so important. If the National Party and its ally, Act, are not unequivocally committed to rolling back the ethno-nationalist changes already imposed: the Māori Health Authority; Three Waters; Te Putahitanga; and to repudiating entirely the whole He Puapua blueprint; then by 2026 it is almost certain that neither of the right-wing parliamentary parties will any longer want to. By then, the ethno-nationalist constitution imposed upon “Aotearoa” will be seen by virtually the entire political class as no more than the application of simple “common sense.”*3

Although Trotter discusses how this election will be framed, I see his narrative happening post-election.  Three months from the election, the issue of He Puapua and an ethnonationalist state is not being discussed at all. Nothing of this nature has appeared in the media recently. This is because Labour has successfully supressed any discussion following its bonfire on policies; and National are afraid of raising this issue for fear of being accused of racism. David Seymour has, and as a result, journalist Andrea Vance, has written a snide and falsely worded article in the Sunday Times on Act’s intentions. She deliberately failed to correctly quote the facts, instead writing hyperbole and misinformation. That is what happens if you raise your head above the parfait on this matter.

If there is a National/Act coalition after the 2023 election, and they do challenge what Labour introduced in 2020-23, it will be a push back on many angles. “Perhaps the biggest problem confronting the parties of the Right will be a mainstream news media resolutely opposed to giving the ‘hate speech’ of ‘racism’ a platform. Unless National and Act conform to the new ethno-nationalist orthodoxy, they will find it next-to-impossible to secure even-handed media coverage. Rather, they will be presented as fronting a racist, white-supremacist campaign to preserve the ‘privileges’ of ‘colonisation’.”*4

“Which, inevitably, brings us to the last and most important question: Is the leadership of the National and Act parties capable of withstanding the unrelenting pressure of the ‘racist’ accusation that most New Zealanders currently go to almost any lengths to avoid? Does Christopher Luxon have the mental resilience to confront charges of racism head-on and, Jordan Peterson-style, out-argue his accusers? Does David Seymour? Or will the old saying “explaining is losing” cause them to throw in the ideological towel and join the merry ethno-nationalist parade?”*5

In conclusion, if Christopher Luxon, and to a lesser extent David Seymour, buckle under  pressure from the media, bureaucrats, and the opposition, of being called racist and colonists, for example, then New Zealand will inevitably become what we all fear, an ethnonationalist state.  It is critical that what the right have said they will do if elected, they do, with ruthlessness and conviction. If not, “The constitutional re-foundation of the country suggested in He Puapua will swiftly render the old Left/Right ideological conflicts redundant. By 2026, Aotearoans will be battling politically over very different issues.”*6

*1 Chris Trotter: Make or Break, January 2022

*2 Chris Trotter: Make or Break, January 2022

*3 Chris Trotter: Make or Break, January 2022

*4 Chris Trotter: Make or Break, January 2022

*5 Chris Trotter: Make or Break, January 2022

*6 Chris Trotter: Make or Break, January 2022