Troubled waters on foreshore and seabed ahead

One issue that will come up soon is the Maori Party’s private members bill to repeal the Forshore and Seabed Act. If National votes for the Bill, along with the Maori Party, Greens, and Act, who are expected to vote for the repeal, it will have the numbers to go to select comittee (asuming Copeland votes with National). Andrey Young has a good editorial about National’s choices in the NZ Herald. There are significent advantages to National in voting the bill to select comittee, such as a defeat for Labour on such a big issue will be embarassing for Labour, giving the appearance of it having lost control of the House, it will remind Maori swing voters of the issue and take support away from Labour and give it to the Maori Party , and it will significently improve relations between National and the Maori Party, something important for National given its lack of potential coalition partners. It will also prevent labour gaining Maori votes by having the Maori party look like a failure. there are some big downsides to National suporting it, as it will look like National is taking the scab of a healing wound and bringing up the issue for political gain, and a vote to give Maori control of the forshore and seabed will be seen as a betrayl by those who voted National to support the “one law for all” policy. there is also the arguement that National should keep the forshore and seabed card until after the election, if national needs to play it to get a coalition with the Maori Party, instead of now, when both parties are in opposition. Voting for the Bill could be seen as the option with the most gain, but most risk involved, whereas voting against, which National will probably do, is the safer choice.

UPDATE (17 July):  If I were a National MP, I would advocate the middle ground of abstention, which carries all the advantages of  voting against it does, plus it will help improve relations between National and the Maori Party more than voting against it will. It looks like National have decided otherwise.

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