I move, That the Human Rights (One Law for All) Amendment Bill be now read a first time. It is quite amazing. I went dancing for a few weeks and have come back and found myself voting twice in a row for Green bills. I must have become all soft and cuddly in the process. I hope the Greens will extend the courtesy in supporting my bill going to select committee.
I think Sue Bradford’s bill is a very important bill, affecting the lives of several people. I believe that the bill I have before the House is one that affects the direction of our country. Indeed, it goes to the heart of what sort of nation, what sort of country, and what sort of people we are. I take members back—when I look around this Chamber—to our youth. [Interruption] I know Shane Jones is struggling to remember. We go back to the ideals we had. We had a simple ideal; it was to be blind to a person’s skin colour.
I heard Michael Cullen cynically yell out: “Yeah, right!” but it was a powerful ideal that we strove to live up to. It was to look past a person’s skin colour, past his or her ethnicity, to see the person underneath; to see his or her character and actions, and to judge the person accordingly.
That is a very, very hard ideal to live up to and we have failed so often, but what an ideal it is. There is nothing we can do about the colour of our skin; we are born with it. There is nothing we can do about our ethnicity, because we are born with it. But there is so much we can do about our character and how we behave. That is why racism is so wrong; it condemns people by their birth—not by what they do, not by what they make of their lives, not by the decisions they make, but by the simple fact of the colour of their skin and the accident of their birth. I am proud of the fact that we belong to a generation around the world that has strived to live by that ideal. I am saddened that Dr Michael Cullen feels so cynical about it because I think it is a beautiful ideal. Who could not be thrilled by Martin Luther King’s speech? Who could not have been thrilled by that speech when we were young people?
I come to where we find ourselves today. We are required by law to have regard to a person’s skin. We have turned the ideal inside out and upside down, so that now when we go to the doctor we have to declare the colour of our skin and our ethnicity. Everywhere we go and interact with government, suddenly the colour of our skin matters. In a generation, we have taken a fine ideal and turned it on its head. We now have State-sponsored racism, because race matters. I remind the House that there is nothing we can do about it; we are born with our skin colour and ethnicity. So how wrong is it that our relationship with the State, our relationship with society, and our relationships with each other should be determined on that basis?
We have the Human Rights Act that outlaws discrimination on the basis of race, so that we cannot discriminate. Yet this legislation has an exclusion; an exclusion for the State. So you and I, Madam Speaker, cannot discriminate on race, but the Government can. I say that is wrong, and New Zealanders say that is wrong. Sure, look after the people in need and acknowledge that Māori, in particular, are in need but let us not draw a line based on skin colour and say that that is a proxy for need, because that is to become racist. It has become so topsy-turvy that Michael Cullen, the Attorney-General, has had the Ministry of Justice prepare a paper to say that my bill to get rid of discrimination—based on race—in the State is itself discriminatory. The paper states: “The provision appears to discriminate against those groups of particular race, colour, ethnic or national origin that the Government identifies as needing assistance because of disadvantage. This is because the bill denies the Government the ability to assist those groups to achieve substantive equality with groups of other races, colours, ethnic or national origins that are not disadvantaged.”
This was written, by the way, by the Ministry of Justice and I want to read the names of those who wrote it. They are Ivan Kwok, Acting Chief Legal Counsel, Office of Legal Counsel, Ministry of Justice, and Margaret Dugdale, Policy Manager, Bill of Rights / Human Rights Public Law Group, Ministry of Justice. These bureaucrats are saying that one has to discriminate not to discriminate. So if a racial group is falling behind in some particular category there have to be special laws for that group to bring them up to speed, otherwise we are discriminating. What Martin Luther King stood for—and people who stood against racism for hundreds of years stood for—has now been turned inside out by our Ministry of Justice and declared to be discrimination.
I beseech members of this House to go back and ask themselves what sort of nation we want. It is one where all our children—all our babies—are treated equally before law, equally with policy, and not divided by the colour of their skin. We know this is a hot button issue in this country and we have heard some fine talk on the election trail from political parties saying yes, we should get rid of State-sponsored racism. Well, this is the test for each MP in this House, and for each political party in this House, as to what side of the fence they stand on. Do we want to create a society where civil servants, politicians, and petty bureaucrats spend their lives—and our money—filling out boxes and ticking them, declaring us to be of this or that racial group? Having ticked those boxes, they then decide what we can have from the Government. It is not based on our circumstance, on our situation, or on our need; it is simply based on the colour of our skin and the box that a bureaucrat ticked.
What we are doing is dividing our country on racial lines, because some people get the tick in the box, and others do not. There is nothing they can do about it; it is where they were born. So the resentment is huge. The idea that some racial groups cannot succeed without special treatment is, itself, racist. Of course, the programmes themselves are inherently counter-productive. There is probably no bigger issue that is cleaving this country and that has the potential to rip us apart than the idea of affirmative action, positive discrimination, or a State determining what one is entitled to, based on race. At the very least, this bill should be debated properly. There might be parties that do not agree with it, but we should have the debate, because that is what this great nation is so desperately in need of.
Rodney Hide’s speech was full of rhetoric, sound, and nonsense, signifying very little, indeed. He asked a question—it was the right question, in a way—which was: which side of the fence do we stand on? From his perspective, the problem is that it is a white picket fence. It is a white picket fence that actually distinguishes those who are privileged from those who are not. He says he stands on the side of the privileged and wants to make sure the fence is high enough and sharp enough to keep the rest of the population out. The situation might be slightly more credible if ACT’s former leader were not now acting as the lawyer for Greek groups seeking Treaty negotiations with the Government, which, no doubt, he would also condemn as a similar kind of policy. But then, of course, that is the ACT party in all its glory.
Rodney Hide’s speech was a truly casuistical speech; that is the only way one could possibly describe it. It reminded me of the electoral laws in the southern states, from reconstruction through to the 1960s. Those laws were not race-based, at all. They did not ever state black people could not vote; they did not state black people could not go on the electoral rolls. They just provided for some kinds of educational and residency tests. White people had a simple set of questions to answer, such as what their name and their grandfathers’ names were, and black people had to answer such questions as who the President of France was in 1886. Not surprisingly, not many of them knew the answer to that, so they did not qualify to go on the electoral roll.
I do not have a clue. Luckily, in New Zealand we do not have to know that, which probably upsets Dr Richard Worth no end, because he probably spends his life waking up and thinking about who the President of France was in 1886—in the same way that Mr Key wakes up in the morning and thinks about what has happened to his Merrill Lynch shares overnight.
Martin Luther King stood for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He said he looked forward to the day when it would not be necessary for him to take action in the way that he did, but, in the meantime, action had to be taken. We have not reached a stage in this country when no action needs to be taken. Rodney Hide says that even when action is justifiable, it must be banned.
The shoddiness of the thinking in this bill is evidenced in its explanatory note. Members should look at this stuff: “Recent history has seen examples of ordinary New Zealanders being taken to task for perceived discriminatory acts, such as golf clubs being censured for having married golf competitions, or hairdressers offering cheaper hair cuts for male pensioners.” Does this bill ban discrimination on the grounds of sex or hair length? From Mr Hide’s perspective, thank goodness it does not. What do race and ethnicity have to do with married golf competitions, for example? The explanatory note bears no relationship to the content of the bill. The bill is put together as a cheap way of trying to appeal to certain instincts. It is a classic example of the fact that one cannot see the truth if one sticks a bumper sticker over one’s eyes. That is what the member continues to do on those kinds of matters. He sticks a bumper sticker over his eyes and says he sees the truth clearly—even when we know some examples where there are clearly issues where we need to make differences in order to achieve outcomes, if we are to achieve equality.
Rodney Hide said that when we were young—I assume he means people of my and his age; people of around that kind of age, because he is not very far off my age, going by his dancing skills—we were encouraged to disregard the colour of people’s skin. But the funny thing is that there were practically no Māori lawyers, doctors, or managers. Māori had manual occupations, and that was it. They did not appear in our elite schools, at all. Some Māori were allowed to play sport, and we thought they were very good at it. But there was no notion that there was equality. When I grew up in Christchurch, precisely 99.0 percent of the population was of European extraction. It was easy to disregard people who were a different colour—there were not many of them to find when one looked around Christchurch in the mid-1950s.
New Zealand is very different today. We cannot ignore the problems this country faces. We cannot wish them away, and say that as long as we do not—
That’s a boy who went to Christ’s College.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, and I went there on a scholarship, as the member well knows. I enjoyed myself, and I am very grateful for the experience. But I think there was one Māori boy at Christ’s College in the time I was there. That gives members a pretty good indication of how effective policies are that totally ignore the colour of people’s skin. Of course, sitting in Epsom as Rodney Hide does, he wants to have a society that looks like that again. He finds it inconvenient to have to recognise equality amongst people who do not come from the same ethnic background that he comes from. That is the reality; he wants to pander to those kinds of feelings.
The fact is that this bill would not even do what it is intended to do. It is so badly drafted that it would not achieve its actual ambitions, because it misses out—
It’s a pamphlet.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It is not even a pamphlet. Goodness me! I think it would be flattering to say it is a pamphlet. It is a slightly extended bumper sticker, but not more than that. After all, it really has only one clause, clause 5, that is slightly longer than the average bumper sticker. At the moment, the Government is not able to have a special exemption to discriminate on the grounds of race, colour, or ethnic or national origin; it is unlawful for the Government or public bodies to discriminate on those grounds, as set out in the Human Rights Act. But what the Government can do is to provide assistance to groups in order for them to achieve substantial equality with groups of other races, colours, or ethnic or national origins that are not disadvantaged.
Let us take an example of that—let us take an American example, so that we do not embarrass the member. There are some diseases that Black Americans are much more prone to than other Americans—sickle-cell anaemia is the classic example. For decades, no research was done on sickle-cell anaemia.
Howard University—a black university.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Howard University, which is a black university, did some research on sickle-cell anaemia. Of course, later, people finally said it was actually discriminatory that research was being done on all the diseases that afflicted white people, but was not being done on the things that particularly afflicted black people. So it became important to do that research.
If we want to achieve our ambitions in terms of reducing smoking— particularly amongst Māori women, who have an incredibly high smoking rate compared with the Pākehā population—we have to gear programmes specifically in that direction. To have a bunch of poncy, middle-class Pākehā trying to explain to Māori women the dangers of smoking will not work. Mr Tony Ryall’s limply waving his wrist at Māori women will not persuade them to give up smoking, whatever he does. A bunch of middle-class, Pākehā National Party women holding up placards and yelling across the House—which is their favourite occupation these days, and thank God it is, because the placards hide them from us—and saying that Māori women should give up smoking will not achieve that. [Interruption] Of course, the member who is interjecting, Jackie Blue, does not want to prevent disease, because she is one of the people who have made their money out of people having diseases rather than by preventing diseases. We want to prevent those kinds of things from happening, and, having watched my father die of emphysema, I want to do what I can to stop that happening to Māori women, because it is an awful, awful way to die.
That member’s bill says the Government could not take any action in areas such as that, because if it does, that could be a matter of discrimination. It says we cannot discriminate in terms of any kind of funding formula. Even if we demonstrate that independent of all other variables, ethnicity is related to some aspect of social deprivation, this bill says we cannot provide funding on an ethnically targeted basis. That is wrong. It is right to review those provisions and to make sure that, in fact, the particular aspect is ethnically related. But if one arrives at the conclusion that there is an ethnic element that is not determined by other socio-economic factors, then it is nonsensical to say the Government should be precluded from intervening by targeting the funding in that respect. What precluding that does is to ensure unequal outcomes. What precluding that does is to ensure discrimination. What precluding that does is to ensure unfairness in our society. Some people in that member’s electorate may sleep more easily at night because other people may miss out on education, or die, or whatever else, as a consequence of precluding targeted funding. I am not worried about that.
He can call me whatever he likes, but I say that is wrong. It is simply wrong, and it is not the New Zealand way. New Zealanders do not want to have a debate about how to “out-racist” each other.
Did Mr Hide in his speech indicate which select committee he would like the bill to go to?
I was going to do that at the end of this debate, but I am quite happy to do so now. I was going to move that it be sent it to the only committee that has every party on it: the Finance and Expenditure Committee.
The jury will be out on the merit of the comments made by the previous speaker, Dr Cullen, but I think it was unfair and hurtful of him to characterise Mr Hide’s comments as casuistical.
On behalf of National, I say that we will support the Human Rights (One Law For All) Amendment Bill going to a select committee. I am bound to say that National thinks the legislation has been expressed with an economy of effort and also reflection. But we want to look critically at the issues that are raised, in the context of the consideration that a select committee could give to it. Let us, for a moment, review the processes of Parliament that would lead to that consideration, for here we are at a very preliminary stage of the legislation—that is, determining whether it should go to a select committee. Mr Hide has properly nominated that the relevant committee should be the Finance and Expenditure Committee. That committee will obviously call for public submissions on the legislation, it will hear the views of the public on its merits, and it will come to a view as to whether to report back to the House that the legislation should proceed to those further stages of consideration: the Committee stage, and the third reading.
No one would argue—not even Dr Cullen on a wet hair or bad hair day—that we are all equal before the law. Of course, we would also say that no one is above the law, but it is right to say that the way the legislation is drafted does have significant implications, and the particular clause that other speakers have identified, clause 5, might be far-reaching.
I am not sure whether it is Mr Hide’s intention that entities like the Korea studies institute at the University of Auckland, for example, might fall. I am not sure whether what is intended by the legislation is that it will no longer be possible for funds to go to Māori providers for the health care of Māori people. I am not sure whether it is intended that it will no longer be possible, in the context of educational institutions, for the Māori scholarships, and the other scholarships that exist, to continue. Those are issues that do need to be looked at by the select committee.
But, in the context of the race-based comments that have been made tonight, I say that I think we should take pride in racial difference. We see in so many parts of New Zealand today—unlike the New Zealand that Dr Cullen referred to of the mid-1950s—that in the diversity of our population there is both excitement and vitality. Let me give a few examples of that. If we look at the contribution that Māori have made to arts, culture, and sport, no one would deny that that contribution is other than stunning. If we look at what the Korean community has done in the context of cultural advancement and Korean tradition, we see that that has been similarly fabulous. If we look at what the Chinese have done in the context of events like the Chinese Lantern Festival, we see a New Zealand that is hugely enriched.
I am bound to say, and I strongly support Mr Hide on this, that the Labour Government has chosen a significantly targeted approach based on ethnicity. There are big problems with that. I looked at a press release that came out today from the Government, in which the Coordinating Minister Race Relations, Mr Mallard, has released the details of a number of reports and results from the Government’s review of targeted policies and programmes. He is quite shameless in his acknowledgment that the Government plans to continue to use targeted programmes and policies for specific ethnic groups—he said that. He also said those reviews have confirmed that, for most of those programmes, targeting by ethnicity is appropriate. National wants the select committee to look at those issues.
I am reminded of the rumour that young Krystal Stuart apparently said to Mr Hide a few days ago: “You’ve got the right idea, but you simply don’t know what you’re doing.” The Human Rights (One Law For All) Amendment Bill reflects that sort of attitude. He has the right idea, but he does not know what he is doing.
Mr Hide raised the issue of what Martin Luther King fought against. When Martin Luther King was in his heyday, I was a young cadet officer sailing to the port of New Orleans. While I was there, I made the mistake—although I did not know I was making a mistake—of getting on a bus and walking two-thirds down the aisle before I took a seat. As the bus went through New Orleans and its suburbs, I saw a number of black people queuing for the bus, and the driver said: “Sorry, we’re full.” A large number of seats in front of me were empty, but the driver said: “Sorry, the bus is full.” He left them, on a cold day in New Orleans, standing at the bus stop. When I got off the bus, I asked the driver why he had told the people who were waiting for the bus that it was full. He said: “Because black people cannot sit in front of a white person on a bus.”
That is totally wrong, and that is what Martin Luther King fought against. Then, months after that, a young black man went to college in the States and they had to turn out the army and the National Guard to make sure he could attend. It was positive discrimination that enabled that young guy to get a start in life on an academic career.
I understand Mr Hide’s idea, and appreciate his intent, but he is clueless as to its application. Let me say to the House that this country takes in 700-plus refugees a year. Many of them cannot speak the language, and many of them do not know how New Zealand society operates. What do we do? What does the Government do? Basically, it gives those people money so they receive training and can become true New Zealanders.
He would not have any of that. I have another issue that Mr Hide might like to address. We hear there is more and more Asian crime in this country and a greater demand for Asian police officers. The police openly say they want more Asian police officers in New Zealand.
They could not do that under Rodney’s bill. They could not discriminate positively. Only this very night on television, just before we came to the House—
I will come to our election promise. On television tonight, people were speaking of concerns about Māori smoking. A huge percentage of people across Māoridom are smoking. It is a habit, an addiction, that I think most New Zealanders would like to encourage Māori people to drop. But we cannot solve that problem with the same solution we might use for Pākehā New Zealanders.
Mr Hide reminded the House of New Zealand First’s election promise. Let me say to him and to all members that we are absolutely firmly committed to everybody in this country getting an equal opportunity and having a fair go. But we recognise that we have to target individual groups differently.
On race, on occasion, and on age and sex. I have given Mr Hide some examples of how we discriminate positively on race and, on occasion, on sex and age. The clue for Mr Hide, so he can get it right, is to discriminate positively to the advantage of the group being targeted, which is to the advantage of New Zealand as a whole. That is the clue. He has got it wrong. He should talk to his dancing partner again. She said to him: “You’ve got the right idea, but you simply don’t know what you’re doing.”
Before I call the next speaker I say to Mr Hide that he has had his 10 minutes and he has another 5 minutes in reply. Please stop interrupting the other speakers continually.
The Green Party will be opposing the Human Rights (One Law For All) Amendment Bill. The starting point for us is that there is serious social disadvantage among ethnic groups in our society, for various reasons, including a legacy of discrimination that is often combined with a lack of recognition of minority cultures, a marginalisation of those cultures in society, and the exclusion of those cultures and their languages from major institutions in our society, both public and private. No doubt the member from the Māori Party who speaks after me will go into that disadvantage among Māori in more detail, so I will talk on a general level here.
As a society we have a vested interest in ending social disadvantage as fast as possible. To do this, preferential treatment and affirmative action have been proven to work. If Mr Hide wants to quote Martin Luther King, he should also indicate that Martin Luther King was a supporter of preferential treatment and affirmative action. The first thing the black population of America did, once it had overcome some of the legal disadvantages of discriminatory laws, was push for, and succeed in bringing in, affirmative action programmes. Those programmes created social advancement for the black people of the United States, just as affirmative action here has sped up an end to social disadvantage.
We are not, as the ACT model seems to provide, just a number of individuals in one national community. Many of us are members of organised ethnic subgroups—ethnic cultures—and we are proud of that. We can harness those cultures to overcome social disadvantage, and I think the wānanga is a case in point in relation to overcoming disadvantage in the educational area. The wānanga enabled thousands upon thousands of Māori to get a much better education and reduce the difference in educational attainment between Māori and the rest of the population. By recognising affirmative action for different minority cultures we help to create important role models within those cultures.
Michael Cullen mentioned that, years ago, at the time he was going to school, there were very few Māori professionals—Māori lawyers, etc. But through what has happened now, with affirmative action being part of the process, there are many more role models and much more equality in society. More and more we are seeing those role models develop at the very top levels of our society. Most recently the new Chief of Defence Force, Jerry Matepārae, has provided a role model to Māori in that area.
This week the nation’s attention has been gripped by the tragic death of two young Māori babies. Although we should not buy into the prejudicial idea that Māori are more likely to kill babies, there has been a national recognition that Māori can help other Māori in relation to addressing violent behaviour. We saw an example of that on Tuesday on Māngere Mountain—one of our MPs, Pita Sharples, was there—where the Māori community mobilised at 5 o’clock in the morning. There were also other Māori events to help address that issue, and we should all welcome that. What is wrong with the Government providing money and assistance for such initiatives from Māori? Rodney Hide’s bill would stop that. It actually states that preferential treatment cannot be given, and that Government money cannot be given specifically to an ethnic group for things like “family responsibility”, which is one of the terms used in the bill.
One area where there is clear discrimination is in relation to new migrants, from Asian countries in particular, who are trying to get jobs. Those people do suffer discrimination. There has been report after report about that. There are programmes at the migrant centre at Three Kings in Auckland, for example, to help address the problem. Government money is put in to help reduce that discrimination, to talk to employers, and to help those migrants specifically to get jobs, because they suffer very serious discrimination in that area. Why should we not be compassionate like that?
Tēna koe, Mr Speaker, tēnā tātou katoa. Tēna koe Rodney Hide. Ko koe tēnei e whakaara ake nei i tēnei kaupapa ki mua i te aroaro o te Whare Pāremata i tēnei pō.
[This indeed is you raising this matter personally before the House of Parliament tonight.]
I acknowledge Mr Hide for placing this bill before the House. I am not one who, as a rule of thumb, turns to the church to seek some sort of view about responding to legislation, but in this case I have. I have tried to figure out and get a view from the church. The Māori Party sees this bill, which seeks to amend the Human Rights Act to remove the Government’s exemption in respect of discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnicity, as extremely significant. In an ideal world, one law for all is something that the Māori Party would normally sign up to with absolute commitment. But the reality is that this is not the ideal world.
In October 1994 the Joint Methodist-Presbyterian Public Questions Committee put together a paper. It was called: Towards a Maori Criminal Justice System. In that paper we were told that the concept of one law for all is fundamentally flawed, in that it pretends that the law is culturally neutral. The paper stated: “All law embodies and protects a particular culture’s values. The argument for one law for all in Aotearoa assumes our law incorporates universal notions of justice.” The changes proposed in this bill fail to recognise that the thinking behind one law for all, which translates into one process for all, does not result in one justice for all.
The debate becomes focused on avoiding special privileges, rather than seeing the law as an expression of one set of cultural ideologies. The one law for this bill is a law shaped by the values of a particular culture—not, we would assume, the culture of tangata whenua. Māori cultural values are simply not reflected in our criminal law. What is reflected is the sum of the values of British and Western history, with Māori law dismissed as having no validity, at all.
In case the selection of the Methodist and Presbyterian advice was seen as partisan, I also chose to look at what the Catholic Church was saying about how well one law for all includes Māori. Bishop Peter Cullinane acted as a key signatory for the bishops’ statement, which was called: “Let us be fair and informed”. It was released in April 2004. In that statement, the bishops of Aotearoa told the nation: “The difference between a claim to privilege based on race, and the claim to rights based on indigenous status and recognised by the very existence of the Treaty, has been blurred.” I refer that statement to the members of this House, for the way in which it describes how one law for all has acted so fiercely against the interests of Māori. The bishops’ statement described the impact of the 1862 Native Lands Act, which made lawful the Crown’s extinguishing of millions of hectares of Māori title in wrongful alienations.
The bishops’ statement also articulated the force of the 1864 Public Works Act, which took Māori land without compensation for roads and railways—a bill that was still in force in the 1960s. I could go on and on—indeed, into the 1970s. The Waitangi Action Committee identified at least 57 Acts of the 19th century that discriminated against Māori. In case any member wants to dismiss all that as being part of the long forgotten past, I ask them to cast their minds back to May 2004 and the passing of the latest act of extinguishment, the Foreshore and Seabed Act.
The Treaty of Waitangi gave us a commitment that Māori would be treated as equal citizens. There should always have been one law for all New Zealanders, but there never was. The historic injustice of confiscation and colonisation has led to serious social and economic deprivation that is race-specific. If we really want to talk about one law for all and human rights, we need to ask why there are these ongoing inequalities. We are not all the same, and being treated the same will serve only to increase the inequalities. There are times when special measures are required to ensure the equality of all members of the society.
Although we commend the intention of Mr Hide to aspire to a situation in which all people are equal under the law, our lived experience tells us that we are far from that ideal right now. Two months ago the United Nations special rapporteur came to Aotearoa and urged our Parliament to restore our reputation in the international arena of human rights. His report was pooh-poohed, and he was denigrated.
This bill does nothing to achieve the goal, and for that reason the Māori Party will not support it. Kia ora tātou.
The next call is split, with 2½ minutes for Judy Turner and 2½ minutes for Shane Jones.
I want to take just a quick call to say that United Future will not be supporting this bill.
I want to reflect quickly on two things. Firstly, I am interested that Mr Hide and the National Party have both scoffed regularly at the issue of political correctness—with the National Party setting up a PC eradicator in response to its concerns—yet this bill is the kind of stuff that political correctness is made out of. Mr Hide is saying that we can talk about need in a general sense, and say that we have needs that need addressing, but we cannot ever quantify them or define those needs in a way that is helpful, so that assistance can be targeted to them. I think we would start engaging in politically correct verbal games in the House, where we can talk in vague terms about the needs that are apparent in the community without ever getting down to specifics.
It is very clear that when we look at the realities of effective endeavours that meet needs we discover that what works well is funding those who are best able to make the best approach, to best communicate, and to best deliver those services. We see it when we fund the gay community to take messages of safe sex to their community. We see it when we target contracts to Māori health providers to provide health services to Māori people. We understood, when we were in jeopardy of losing a key language to this nation, that we needed to put resourcing towards that very specifically. On and on I could go.
This bill is all about political correctness, and I cannot believe those two parties are engaging in it.
Kia ora, Mr Speaker. Tēnā tātou katoa. I begin this brief contribution by reciting a very apposite Māori phrase, and, with your forbearance, I will get the translator to give a translation. E rerengia anō ōna ngutu e te honi, otirā he waiū kē nō te ngārara. Kāria nei ngā rei ka puta, ka horomia te tangata
[His lips are dripping with honey, but it is the saliva of a creature instead. The tusks had not even appeared, and the man was swallowed up.]
Well, I will give members the Ngāpuhi version, then. Mr Hide has returned. I must acknowledge that he has returned from a period of absence. As we said today in the Finance and Expenditure Committee, his physical appearance has vastly improved since he left this place.
No, I must say that, because a number of us looked enviously at him—but that is not to say that the body/mind index has changed.
However, the proverb refers to the fact that the lips are covered in honey, but it is the milk of the taniwha that waits to gobble an unsuspecting prey. By using slogans, Rodney Hide has this evening really brought a simplistic set of terms to the House, designed, unfortunately, to worsen a situation rather than to overcome one of the main challenges facing us in Aotearoa. Of course, we greet what he says, in relation to everyone having a brilliant opportunity to achieve their potential in Aotearoa, without cavil. However, the notion that the plurality of cultures of peoples in Aotearoa should be shoe-horned into one particular conduit, one framework, is something I cannot agree with. Consequently, as Dr Cullen has said, we will not be voting for this bill.
Our society is premised on diversity. Yes, we have the Treaty of Waitangi, and that accords a place of primacy to the tangata whenua. But, beyond that, Aotearoa is becoming more pluralistic and more diverse. The State ought to continue to enjoy an exclusive monopoly over its ability to legitimise the use of power and the manner in which it intervenes to effect changes in the status and fortunes of the different groups that make up society.
The difficulty for our friends from National is that, as a consequence of the Ōrewa speech, they will be incapable of independent analysis until they sack their leader. It is unfortunate that they will join with Rodney Hide in supporting this bill, but this bill will not capture the attention of the vast majority of New Zealanders in any supportive sense. This recipe was tried—was trotted around the extent of the four winds—during the election, but people did not buy it. People do not want us to go backwards into an insipid type of existence whereby Māori are marginalised and overlooked. In fact, the logical conclusion of what Mr Hide’s bill means is that the very force that his colleague was serving in recently will not be able to use the words Ngāi Tūmatauenga, and will have to strip the utilisation of the Māori motif from its uniform, which gives it an international cachet, an international reputation. Diversity and pluralism must prevail; this bill must fall. Kia ora tātou.
I rise to speak in support of this very good bill that has been put forward to this House by my colleague Rodney Hide. I am afraid that those people listening in and other members in this House have heard tonight an awful lot of very confused speaking and thinking. This bill is actually very simple. One law for all actually speaks for itself: it means that everybody—every citizen—in this country, regardless of religion, race, or ethnicity, is equal before the law. But when we sit here and listen to the debate tonight, we understand that the Government is opposed to this bill because it knows best. It knows what is best for every person in this country, and it wants to be calling the shots.
Many of the other parties, however, seem to think that positive discrimination—whatever that might be—is OK but negative discrimination is not. We have heard example after example of the abhorrence those parties have for negative discrimination. But positive discrimination is OK, because those parties are in a position to know better than everybody else.
Discrimination of any sort is absolutely wrong. As soon as we give one group in society—any society—advantage or privilege over the rest of that society, we automatically disadvantage another group. I look to health to give an example. Dr Cullen said that his father died of emphysema and that, therefore, it was very important that all the young Māori women in this country who smoke should not experience the same thing. Was he saying, by making that statement, that it is actually OK for Pākehā to die of lung cancer? Was he saying that it does not matter whether anybody else smokes? Asians smoke quite a lot, yet he has not put in place smoking programmes specifically for them. He is excluding people as a result, which is discrimination.
The primary health organisations that this Government is extraordinarily proud of have given all sorts of people cheaper medical attention, but it is based not on people’s need, not on a condition they might have, and not on a disease, but on the colour of their skin. Any people of Māori or Pacific Island descent are eligible for cheaper care if they belong to a primary health organisation that has more than 50 percent of people of the same ethnic group enrolled—Māori or Pacific Island are specified—regardless of any condition they might have and regardless of the state of their health. Whereas, people who might have great health needs but live in a wealthier geographical area, for example, or who belong to a primary health organisation in which 50 percent of people of Māori or Pacific Island descent are not enrolled, miss out on the cheaper care, despite the fact that their health is worse and their needs are greater.
So the arguments tonight are actually very simple. In putting forward this one law for all bill we are giving the Government the opportunity to put forward programmes based on need and not the colour of one’s skin. I say categorically—and I would have thought everybody in this House would agree—that discrimination of any type is wrong and should not be encouraged. Discrimination is exactly what most of the parties in this House tonight, except for ACT and National, are supporting. They are supporting the idea that discrimination of all sorts is OK. We in ACT say it absolutely is not.
There are times in this Parliament when one hopes that people will rise to the occasion, and in a bizarre sort of way, the sort of David Duke of New Zealand politics, as he is now known—Rodney Hide—has risen or fallen, I suppose, to the occasion. Mr Hide might want to reflect on who David Duke was. He was a former Southern state representative who ran, I believe, for President of the United States a few years ago and was found out for his beliefs on race. I think it had something to do with white sheets and hats, or whatever. But, however, he may want to reflect on that history.
One looks at this bill and has to say that it is a typical contemporary ACT bill. I am sure that Sir Roger Douglas, the founder of the ACT party—whether or not one agreed with Sir Roger—would look at this tonight and agree with his conclusion that he would like to disassemble the ACT party completely. Because the ACT party did not reflect again—politics aside, and whether or not one agreed with Sir Roger—what he wanted. He wanted a party of ideas. He wanted a party that would contribute to the strength and fabric of our community, not a party of the sewer, and not a party of David Dukes. If one looks at this bumper sticker, which I call a campaign pamphlet—but Dr Cullen is right, it is a bumper sticker, not over Mr Hide’s eyes, but more suited to his mouth—and if one looks at the ACT party, this is a typical contemporary ACT party bill.
What does this bill stand for? It uses a nice little neat slogan that people who may not have the privilege of information or education as much as our good selves here, might just sort of click on to. But then when one digs deeper one finds that this piece of paper is all about wrenching and scraping the scab off the wound that is the issue of race in this country. Mr Hide has told us about his road to Damascus, paso doble experience, which was the greatest rapture of his life. He said that he found all his new ideas and his new statesmanship on the dance floor, and he is going to come to this House a new man. Well, I suppose in some ways he is—physically, but not mentally.
This is the party, of course, if one looks at this bill, that if Mr Hide had been in power, God forbid, in 1938 when Sir Apirana Ngata went to Michael Joseph Savage and said: “My people want to contribute to New Zealand’s effort to one of the worst conflicts brewing in Europe that we have ever seen.”—World War II—would have said no. It would have been Mr Hide, the new David Duke of the House, who would have said: “No, the Government cannot provide a unit specifically for Māori.”, called as we know now as we look around at the shields and crests on the wall, the Māori Battalion. Because, of course, that would be some sort of privilege based only on race. Well, I look back and one of the reasons I am standing here, and one of the reasons we all stand in this Chamber, is because of the massive contribution that not only the Māori Battalion made, but all New Zealanders made. The Māori Battalion had a unique place; it was a unique unit and a unique battalion within our armed forces. But Mr Hide, of course, would have said no.
Yes, we have moved on, but I tell Dr Mapp, as an ex-military person, and sitting beside an ex-military person, Dr Worth, that it is worth reflecting on the history. Of course, we have had one of the worst tragedies in the Kāhui family in the last couple of weeks. Domestic violence is based not only in the Māori community and the Pākehā community, it is across all communities. But under Mr Hide’s proposition any sectoral funding to, say, low socio-economic people—race aside—where race may well be a factor, say in health, as Māori are more likely to get diabetes than Pākehā, oh no, we cannot help the most vulnerable. ACT says: “Let us twist that around in the psyche and let us tell all our rich ACT mates that somebody else might be getting a bit more help than us because they need it.” Of course, Alan Gibbs on his big fat salary and his big fat fortune does not need that—but he funds a few call centres, I am told—so a certain sector of the community should feel bitter and twisted. Well, I say to Mr Hide that the little scab, the little 5 or 2 or 3 percent of New Zealand that he is trying to scrape together in his little hands, based on hate, and based on nastiness, to boost his little poll rating, will not work. In conclusion I say that Kiwis, at the end of the day, all politics aside—it does not matter what political party they support—are fair minded. As the Māori proverb goes: He tangata, he tangata, he tangata, it is people, it is people, it is people, and Kiwis of any race—as the stumpy one over there laughs—will see this bill for what it is: shallow, pathetic, and nasty.
It is extraordinary to hear the last speaker, Clayton Cosgrove, suggest that equality before the law is somehow mean, shallow, and nasty. Equality before the law is the most fundamental principle of our democracy, and that is the intent of Mr Hide’s bill.
As Mr Jones said earlier, there was a great debate in New Zealand in 2004 and 2005. The debate concerned whether New Zealanders are equal before the law. It was a very deep debate that actually had two sides to it, which the opponents of this bill seem fundamentally to fail to recognise. The argument is quite simple, and it is this. The law should not provide preferences to any particular group, be it on the basis of sex, gender, or race, or for any other reason, because, of course, the law treats us all equally. But there is another side to the coin, and I did not hear about this from the Māori Party. I just remind that party—although I should not need to do so—that everyone has the same set of rights. Surely the Māori Party came to this Parliament partly because it said the law did not treat Māori equally in relation to the foreshore and seabed. Its whole kaupapa was that it wanted its case to be heard in the same way as every other citizen is heard—that is, with equality before the law.
Another point is that this law does not suggest that people be denied cultural expression. That right is clearly protected not just in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act but also in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. People are of course entitled to their language and culture, and to practise it. It is obviously a fundamental truth that Māori culture and language exist, essentially, in New Zealand. That is why Māori is an official language. That is why there are clearly rights and obligations to protect language and culture. Dr Brash said precisely that in the Ōrewa speech of 2004. That is recognised very clearly. We would go further and say that the kura kaupapa and the Māori health initiatives were also said to be protected on the basis that people have choice. It springs directly from section 20 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, which states that people have religious, ethnic, and linguistic rights. Clearly, those things are protected. There is nothing in the bill that argues against any of that, and that is where the Government and—dare I say it, in this instance—New Zealand First have got it wrong. This bill does not argue against those fundamental rights.
We also heard a great deal about sickle-cell anaemia, diabetes, HIV, and all those sorts of things. Who in this country has argued that people should not be entitled to receive care on the basis of need? Clearly, in each of those examples, if people have specific needs they deserve specific help. Dr Brash argued that point in the 2004 speech. Actually, Labour had to concede he was right on that point, and Trevor Mallard’s appointment was precisely for that reason.
I conclude on the following point. I was involved in the issue of special preferences, particularly around admissions to law schools, medical schools, and so forth. Those programmes were established in the 1980s, and, indeed, I was part of that process. But were those programmes intended to last forever? No, they were not. I can say to this House that Mr Shane Jones has publicly stated, along with the honourable John Tamihere, that those programmes have a finite life, and that there is now no need for those kinds of programmes to exist in order to lift people up. People acknowledge that prior to 1980 there were very few Māori lawyers, doctors, accountants, and so forth. Things have fundamentally changed in that regard. Those programmes were not supposed to last forever. They have lasted 20 years now, and the imbalance they were intended to correct has been corrected.
I return to the point that this bill is based on a simple proposition, and that is equality before the law. Will parties vote against that fundamental proposition? I ask the people of New Zealand why that would happen.
This debate just goes to show how misinformed we have become as a nation about the issues of culture, diversity, and racism, and also shows our inability to debate those issues in a way that is wholesome and useful.
I should acknowledge the Māori Party, whose member Te Ururoa Flavell gave a very fine speech, even though that party disagrees with me and will vote against the bill. At least the Māori Party understood the intent of the bill, and actually took the trouble to read it, unlike Peter Brown of New Zealand First and Mr Clayton Cosgrove—who, I have to say, brings a certain nasty side to this debate and to this Parliament.
I pick up the Māori Party’s point that in an ideal world we would live without racial discrimination. The Māori Party’s position is that, yes, ideally we should not be discriminating on the basis of race. I accept that point, but when I look across the House I do not think that is the position of Labour or New Zealand First. Those parties like the idea of Governments discriminating on the basis of race, because that is the source of their power. It is the basis of their ability to make decisions and decide who will get what. The Māori Party at least admits that in an ideal world we would not be discriminating on the basis of race. Its point is—and I do not think I am doing it a disservice—that we are living in a less than ideal world because in the past there has been racial discrimination, so racial groups in New Zealand are behind the eight ball, and we need affirmative action to bring them up to some median for society. Once that has been achieved we can remove the need for affirmative action based on race. I think that is the argument of the Māori Party.
So, following on from Dr Wayne Mapp’s point, affirmative action is a sort of temporary policy we have until somehow society racially equalises. But that goes back to a fundamental point, and it is whether affirmative action—[Interruption] Is it not interesting that Mr Hughes never speaks in this Parliament; he just sits there and chips across the House. He cannot make a reasoned contribution, can he? Our having acknowledged that there has been racial discrimination and disadvantage in the past, I ask whether it is the smartest thing for a society to do to actually perpetuate racial discrimination in a positive way. My answer to that is a resounding no. If we affirm action in favour of one racial group, then every other racial group is disadvantaged.
I ask Mr Brown to consider this: if we have affirmative action for entry into medical school of people who, say, are green in colour, then all people who are not green will miss out because there is no discrimination in favour of them. Mr Brown fails to understand that key point.
The second thing we have to ask ourselves is whether the best way to go forward as a nation is to base our delivery of services on race. We know there are Māori who are doing fantastically well and that some are not. We know there are non-Māori who are doing well and that some are not. The key determinant is not race, and if Mr Brown thinks it is race, then I am afraid he has a genetic explanation for why people do not succeed in society—and there is a word for that.
I say to the Māori Party that, yes, we should go for the ideal and that we should be striving for the ideal now, because nothing will bring Māori up more quickly than a colour-blind country treating them like true citizens and addressing the issues of our society—issues of need, deprivation, and disadvantage, irrespective of the colour of the skin of a man, a woman, a child, or a baby.
A party vote was called for on the question,
That the Human Rights (One Law For All) Amendment Bill be now read a first time.
Motion not agreed to.