"It’s a coincidence that New Zealand elects a new parliament on October 14, the
same day Australians decide whether (at the request of Indigenous people) they
will entrench in the constitution an Aboriginal and Torres Islander Voice to
Parliament. But there is one striking parallel between the two campaigns.
On both sides of the Tasman, some people are claiming Indigenous policies risk
their nation being divided along racial lines.
In Australia, opposition leader Peter Dutton argues the Voice “will permanently
divide us by race” and “re-racialise” the constitution. He doesn’t mention that
the constitution has always allowed governments to discriminate against people
of some races.
In New Zealand, the libertarian ACT (Association of Consumers and Taxpayers)
party – which according to the polls is likely to be needed by the National
Party to form a government – is campaigning with the slogan “End division by
ACT particularly opposes a distinctive Māori voice in public decision making
through the co-governance of natural resources and the Māori Health Authority,
established this year to allow Māori health experts to make decisions about the
funding of Māori primary health services.
The party is calling for a referendum to redefine the Treaty of Waitangi and
reduce its influence.
But the treaty itself doesn’t mention race. It was an agreement about how
British government could be established without compromising Māori authority
over their own people and resources. Importantly, it protected cultural
equality – which is what co-governance and the Maori Health Authority try to
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics