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A Tale of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

A Tale of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

Budget 2006: Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Tai Tokerau

Wednesday 24 May 2006

Up home, the news of the week wasn’t about the Budget, because most of my rellies are intelligent enough, and cynical enough not to expect anything from a Government dedicated to the downgrading of all things Maori.

No - the news was about the real money - the big deal - the $18m Lotto that some lucky bugger up Kaeo won, so I’m happy for Kaeo, and really happy for the whanau that got the big break - but for all that, I still feel a sense of gloom, because it seems the only way a lot of my whanaunga are going to be able to break out of the poverty cycle is through a game of chance - a wild gamble.

Last week Dr Cullen, did nothing to change that with his 2006 Budget.

- Whanau development:gone.

- Local Level Solutions:gone.

- Direct resourcing:gone.

- Capacity Building:gone.

- Capacity Assessment:gone.

- Manaaki Tauira:gone.

- Maori and Pacific scholarships:gone.

- New money for Maori Affairs: nothing.

Don’t get me wrong folks. I’m not saying Maori weren’t targeted - we were. Unfortunately though, targeting for Maori in 2006, involved the same, failed, racist, policies of assimilation that governments used to pursue back in the 1800s when Maori kids were only allowed to speak English, and the only good Maori was a quiet Maori.

Well folks - it comes as no surprise at all to anyone with a modicum of intelligence, that assimilation doesn’t work.

It didn’t work back in the 1800s, and it didn’t work in the 1900s. In fact, assimilation was supposed to have ended with the Hunn Report in 1960.

So it’s a worrying trend when those same racist policies are being dredged up in the new millennium - dressed up in new words of course, but with no consultation with Maori, and I suspect without even reference to the Government’s own Maori MPs - for surely they could not possibly be supporting the crap that this crowd is foisting upon their own people in 2006.

This 'one size fits all' theory simply does not work - it never did, and as the ONLY party dedicated to “defending Maori rights and advancing Maori interests” we have an obligation to highlight the hypocrisy of this government’s financial programme.

There is no new money for Maori. That’s the fact. Government has given it two flash new names - “reallocation” and “reprioritisation” - but the facts remain the same. There is no new money for Maori.

In fact, the real story of Budget 2006 for Maori is what wasn’t in it.

Congratulations to the Minister of Finance for announcing a key focus on “Our Families, Young and Old” but what about the 60,000 Maori families who won’t get anything from Working for Families?

And while it’s lovely to hear the Prime Minister reading out some fan mail from people who can get the package, believe me, those words are absolutely meaningless to the nearly 100,000 Maori kids who don’t even know they’ve been denied by this programme.

Government was right to target health as a budget priority, and we congratulate them for that, but we remind them again that a one-size-fits-all health budget will not alleviate the massive health problems faced by Maori people throughout the country.

Neither will it ease the fears of the people in the far north who stand to lose their hospital, nor ease their fears about losing their doctors because there is no money to encourage them to stay.

So when my people ask me what they got in the budget, I get really sad when I tell them “you got nothing new” and when they ask me why not, I have to say that “I don’t know. I don’t know why there is nothing for you. I don’t know why the Maori MPs in Labour did not fight for you. I don’t know why they’re so quiet about this. I just don’t know what they’re thinking”.

Last month, Labour’s Maori Caucus were told to host a press conference to promote the Working for Families Package, but when asked by the media what the benefits for Maori were of that policy, none of them could answer. Dumb-founded, struck mute, and having to defend a discriminatory policy they didn’t understand, and with no cue cards provided. I was embarrassed.

The 2005 Budget was notable for one hour’s worth of talk, and no mention of the word Maori AT ALL.

The 2006 Budget is even more sinister because it mentions Maori, as in no consultation with Maori, no new money for Maori, assimilation for Maori, and “no Maori - we ain’t listening.”

Mr Speaker, normally I like to finish my korero with a Maori saying, but seeing as how this Bill gives us nothing, I turn instead to my Pakeha side, and while I’m no great fan of Shakespearian tragedy, I can’t help but think of a line from Macbeth to describe this budget: “tis a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing”.

Kia ora koutou katoa


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