Thursday, May 5, 2011
"One Law for All"...But Whose Law?
It is generally accepted that facts and detail do not make effective election campaigns. Voters are attracted by concise statements that have emotional buy in and resonate with their own broad views. The left have often lose debates by going into detailed academic descriptions that demonstrate where we are and what we should be doing, while the right score damaging hits with a quick pithy phrase. Brash's simple statement "one law for all" is a good example of this.
While Hone won the debate on TV1's Close Up if the assessment was based on passion and advocating for the oppressed, he did have difficulty countering Brash's simplistic statement. It is hard to explain why the "one law" idea is flawed and dangerous with a quick retort.
Maori have suffered under discriminatory laws for over 150 years and continue to do so. Maori tend to base their lives in communities and have collective aspirations while european law is centred on the individual and when this is applied to land ownership it has had disastrous consequences for them. Many of our laws discriminate against Maori or minority groups and are in breach of basic human rights. New Zealand is in many ways unique in that our parliament has absolute sovereignty and there is no higher constitution or bill of rights that can be used to overturn or moderate bad law.
Both Labour and National have abused parliamentary sovereignty to marginalize Maori for some time and the seabed and foreshore legislation is a good example where the rights of due legal process have been denied to a particular group of people. The National led government have been particularly skilled at giving the appearance of recognizing the rights of Maori while ensuring that they maintain the upper hand. In affirming the United Nations' Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the government was quick to reassure the country that it would have no affect on our laws and stated so in the house:
"I think it is important to understand that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is just that—it is a declaration. It is not a treaty, it is not a covenant, and one does not actually sign up to it. It is an expression of aspiration; it will have no impact on New Zealand law and no impact on the constitutional framework."
So it is easy for Don Brash to claim there should be one law for all when he knows that once in the seats of power he can make the laws to suit himself and hard for Hone to counter such subtle and effective racism.