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Te Ururoa Flavell Parl. Appropriation Bill Speech

Appropriation (Continuation of Interim Meaning of Funding for Parliamentary Purposes) Bill
Te Ururoa Flavell
Tuesday 20 November 2007

Mr Speaker, a week ago today the Maori Party view on this bill was clearly set out by Dr Sharples, and as with anything we in the Maori Party are involved with, particularly with regard to issues within this House, we take it very seriously - as indeed we do the serious business of humour.

Last year we received notice that we had committed a crime. The crime was “Advertising and Publicity Expenditure Deemed Outside Appropriation” for the three months prior to the General Election of 17 September 2005.

As there is no word for guilt in te reo Maori, we could only acknowledge and say, “ae i raro i nga ture Paremata i he matau”; that we were wrong.

So as we do in the Maori Party, we did not make up excuses, we did not seek legal advice on how to convince others our wrong was in fact a right. We thought fair enough, and we fessed up and paid up.

The crime was centred on an advertisement in a local paper and the amount was for $53.66 including GST.

On 16 August 2006 we dipped in to our MP and Staff kai kitty and duly paid in cash the amount of $53.70 for which we received a letter of receipt.

This letter of receipt, received on the 17th of August 2006, was headed:

RECEIPT OF ILLEGAL ELECTION ADVERTISING EXPENSES

And it read:

“…we confirm receipt of funds representing the refund of illegal election expenditure as outlined in the Auditor general’s report.

Please find attached your tax receipt for $53.70. This represents $47.73 plus GST. “

Regards

I have to say Mr Speaker that when we discussed this ‘crime’ of expenditure outside of appropriations we thought we might invoke what is normal for OTS and this House in settling Treaty Claims.

We thought two percent of $53.70 would be a satisfactory amount in repaying the debt - which would bring the compensation payment to about $1.07.

We chose not to as we were not prepared for the outcry which would surely, and rightly, follow.

We imagined the headlines of “Maori Party refuses to pay in full”.

We decided the paltry sum of $53.70 did not warrant that sort of headline and so we paid in full.

We congratulate the Hon Jim Anderton as his Progressive Party was the only political party in this house who did not act illegally.

Most other Parties have paid, but there is still one - perhaps two - which to date, have failed to put their hands into their pockets. The interest on their debts must be building up.

What has disappointed us most is that :

(1) some people still believe that Kevin Brady, the Auditor General, was wrong.

(2) and even worse, this House has passed retrospective legislation to make legitimate that which was illegal. We sure know how to look after ourselves and we have a wonderful ability to rationalise our behaviour.

The question we in the Maori Party have is about the letter which refers to “Refund of Illegal Election Advertising Expenses”, and whether other parties have a letter headed like it?

And I wonder Mr Speaker why it is that we in the Maori Party have not got a letter to say that all is now forgiven, that all has been made legal and above board?

As we have stated previously, while this Bill is portrayed as merely being a “roll over” of existing legislation to 2009 and while pledges have been given that what happened in 2005 will not happen again, what the Maori Party knows only too well - as students of history and of power - is that the ends will always justify the means for those who crave power.

History has shown that some people will do anything to retain their positions. The funny thing that I have found interesting in this debate is that both major parties attempt to blame each other and yet both tested the rules to the limit and were found wanting.

Mr Speaker much reference has been made in this House to Nicky Hager's book, The Hollow Men, as we have debated this Bill and its mate the Electoral Finance Bill which we will be debating before the House winds up for the year.

Both these Bills have rightfully been linked but it is the book, The Hollow Men, which I want to make some reference to.

The book alludes to the notion of what is referred to as “wedge” politics, the politics of division and of fear.

The politics where one group is cynically set up to be feared.

The type of politics has again been seen on our television screens and newspapers - and also, this time around, directly experienced by the men, women and children of Ruatoki and Tuhoe.

It is the sort of politics which utilises a technique called ‘dog whistling' - referring to the notion that certain messages will be transmitted and heard by a specific species of audience; the subliminal, racialising messages which politicians use and which are the last words to be remembered by the listener.

Well Mr Speaker, we have in the last few weeks been subjected to the wedge politics and dog whistling straight out of the Hollow Men, which provided a damning account of gross manipulation of the public in the interests of power.

By way of an example, think back if you will to the press conference of Monday morning the 15 October 2007 where the nation was advised of terrorist training camps in Tuhoe, of Molotov cocktails, of napalm bombs and military style weapons and of the threats to the lives of the Rt Honourable Helen Clark, the Hon John Key and the President of the United States, George W Bush.

And when leave to lay charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 was denied, the Prime Minister went on the offensive stating that those arrested were still facing very serious firearms charges. All of this while the issue was sub judice and while much effort was being made in this House to ensure that members of the Maori Party did not break the sub judice laws in debates.

Increasingly more and more people are coming to believe that the Police raids of recent weeks has been a cynically orchestrated campaign by and for the Labour Party based on the very thing that drove Mr Brash, practiced by Mr John Howard in Australia and which has its origins in Karl Rove the brain of Mr George Bush.

The irony is that this divisive and destructive form of politics, when published by Nicky Hager, was the object of considerable criticism by the Rt Honourable Prime Minister and her colleagues who railed on Don Brash following his Orewa speech.

And here they have been, over these last four weeks indulging in exactly the same behaviour - for exactly the same purposes .. and it would seem, for exactly the same kind of popularist result – Labour improving in the latest Fairfax Media–Neilsen poll this past weekend.

It would seem that despite technically being an illegal practice, racism remains as something to successfully draw on when ratings are down. Don Brash did it to spectacular effect the year before the last election. Could it be that Labour is following suit? What other games will be played before the next election?

I have used this example, Mr Speaker, to make the point that when it comes to power any means will justify the ends.

And the cost financially of such behaviour will be borne by the people, as we in this House set about appropriating money for Parliamentary purposes.

The cost of “wedge” politics is always paid by the innocent - this time the people, young and old, of Ruatoki, Tuhoe and those who have dared to challenge it.

Who will be next?

ENDS

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