Three recent posts have caught my eye. Two, by Chis Trotter and NRT, deal with the prospect of an over-hang and the third is about special education.
Chris wrote this very critical piece concerning the prospect of a Maori-National coalition. Like Chris, I can't see it being sustainable because it appears to be inconsistent with Maori views (at least as they've been expressed in this survey). However, I don't agree with Chris that the prospect of a Maori-National coalition proves the fault of the Maori seats. I agree that Maori seats are somewhat incongruous in our MMP system but I don'think that means they ought not exist.
Though it's often be criticised as being naive, which it is not, the historical development of Maori seats and the link to the Treaty remains a sufficient justification for their existence IMO. The fact that our arrangements don't entirely cohere to an idealised standard doesn't mean they're defunct - certainly not while they work and there's no evidence to suggest they don't. That said, I tend to agree they may not be needed if we continue to see a genuine plurality in Parliament (plus there's a greater consensus around resolution of outstanding Treaty claims) but I'm not sure where there yet.
I'm intrigued by NRT's suggestion of list only MPs as a way of avoiding the distortionary effects of an overhang. My concern would be that there'd be something significant lost by discontinuing electorate MPs. Anyone who's worked in a public sector role will know just how effective and important electorate MPs can be; good electorate MPs earn their wage daily by helping navigate often hopelessly complex bureaucracy.
Finally to Grant Robertson's piece on Special Education. I share Robertson's focus on Special Education. If New Zealand is anything like Australia, then it's almost certain the demand for more and better support for kids with disabilities will increase (plus it's still not adequately funded).
I worked in Parliament in the early days of the National-NZFirst coalition which largely implemented Labour policy on funding for special education. The mix of funding for schools and for pupils seemed the right way to go to provide both mainstream and specialist facilities for an increasingly diverse range of kids. I was aghast to discover that an entirely arbitrary decision was taken to reduce funding available for individual kids - it was never explained and it quickly meant a log-jam of applications and a slowing of funding.
It was obvious to me that the then Associate Minister, the late Brian Donnelly, was being frustrated by his senior colleague, Wyatt Creech, who was simply to bloody mean to properly fund the otherwise good scheme. Forunately Chris Carter's investing the necessaries at last.
5 days ago