Race relations in New Zealand are, once again, mired in controversy. At the political level – rather than the social level, where ethnic relations continue to be relatively harmonious – issues around race, ethnicity and Maori politics continue to be a source of conflict. The reaction to the Government’s appointment of Susan Devoy as the new Race Relations Commissioner demonstrates this sensitivity. The best argued opposition to her appointment comes from Lew Stoddart – see his blogpost, Selections matter. Certainly the appointment of a seemingly unqualified Devoy is rather bizarre, and could be seen as undermining the importance of the Office of Race Relations. And as No Right Turn argues, Devoy’s lack of qualifications for the job possibly calls into question the legality of the appointment – see: Was Devoy's appointment unlawful?. [Read more below]
So what was the Government thinking? By appointing someone with mainstream appeal and a non-controversial background, National probably thought that it was choosing someone who would have wide acceptance and cause few problems. What’s more, in choosing a woman – for the first time in the Office’s 41-year-history – the Government probably thought that it would appease liberals. Judith Collins has made the point herself, that such a selection was righting a sexist wrong: ‘That speaks volumes about the way women, ethnic women and women generally, have been kept out of the race relations debate’. Collins has also stressed Devoy’s experience in the business and sporting worlds, saying Devoy is ‘used to being a minority’ when she served as a woman on a corporate board and in receiving less pay in sporting contests – see Isaac Davison’s Critics target Devoy appointment.
Devoy is possibly part-Maori, apparently being ‘of Ngati Kahungunu descent’ – see Hamish Rutherford’s Dame Susan: I have to be voice of reason. So in appointing a women and (perhaps) Maori to the role, National might be forgiven for thinking that it was keeping faith with the unspoken ‘identity politics’ criteria implicit for the role.
Another interesting explanation comes from Chris Trotter, who sees her appointment as another sign that National hates ‘left-wing, tertiary-educated, urban professionals’ and the rational pursuit of the common good, instead preferring the ‘common sense’ of the uneducated – see: Welcome to the Wasteland. Certainly critics will say that the Government’s decision is yet further indication of anti-intellectualism and the cult of the sportsperson in New Zealand.
Gordon Campbell accuses Collins of ‘political trolling’ in deliberately using race relations: ‘Collins wants to stir up the elitist, out of touch commentators and academics, while scoring her government a few extra points among the “real people” who think that this race relations, Treaty consciousness stuff has got a bit out of hand. Sensible Susan will sort that nonsense out’ – see: On Susan Devoy’s appointment.
Some of the harsher criticisms of Devoy are probably helping the Government sell the appointment. After all, the strong moral outrage being expressed by some on the left about the ‘racism’ of Devoy is unlikely to resonate with the public, and may serve to discredit all opposition. The Mana Party has spoken particularly strongly against the appointment, accusing Devoy of racism, calling for her to be sacked, and an investigation launched into how someone like her could be appointed in the first place – see Radio NZ’s Mana Party wants race relations appointment terminated. In a similar vein, see Tim Selwyn’s Susan Devoy: "ashamed to be a New Zealander".
But is Devoy really a racist or ‘redneck’? Devoy’s comments on Waitangi Day are probably similar to what most political party leaders have said at one time or another – as Cameron Slater points out in his blogpost, Could David Shearer become Race Relations Commissioner?. On the issues of the burqa, Devoy’s statements can easily be categorised as fitting a ‘progressive feminist’ stance of opposing such face veils while opposing state bans on them. Interestingly, perhaps the strongest political statement that Devoy has ever made was her condemnation of (then) Act Party leader Don Brash, who she labelled ‘the most morally bankrupt person in the country’.
Responses to the issue on Twitter have been particularly interesting, ranging from the insightful through to the playful. For example, the NBR’s Chris Keall (@ChrisKeall) tweeted, ‘Agree Susan Devoy is odd choice. But given Conciliator's lack of any real power, does it matter if it's her, Jason Gunn or Tame Iti?’; Marcus Cook (@MarcusDCook) tweeted: ‘Revealed; Devoy appointed after "rock, paper, scissors" match with Paul Henry. Won 2/3’. For more of the best tweets, see my blog post, Tweets on Susan Devoy and race relations. Similarly, see Scott Yorke’s amusing scenario in which he takes National’s appointment processes to the next logical conclusion: David Tua's new challenge.
Perhaps part of the disagreement over the Devoy appointment lies with the actual Race Relations Commissioner. Much of the current debate suggests there are different interpretations of what the Commissioner is for. See for example, Morgan Godfery’s, Dame Susan Devoy: race relations "not complicated". He says, ‘The primary role of the Race Relations Conciliator is, essentially, to protect minorities… I can’t trust her to protect me or anyone like me from discrimination, the tyranny of the majority or anything else’. Others, such as the Government see the role very differently. Last year, it could also be noted, the Government looked at folding the Office into the Human Rights Commission.
Not all commentators have opposed the appointment. Blogger Pete George has gone out on a limb to say that ‘I’m backing Devoy’s appointment, unless I see good reason it was flawed, and I haven’t seen anything convincing to suggest to me it is’ – see: Should Susan Devoy’s appointment be squashed?. George also raises the question of what criteria should be used in such appointments, taking issue with the view of the Mana Party’s Annette Sykes: ‘Passing the Sykes non-racist test would exclude many people, but I suspect Sykes would fail the test of many too’. Another interesting defence of Devoy can be found in the Southland Times’ Reconcilable differences, which argues that the new Commissioner has a different style to her predecessor, and that it might just work for her.
The Maori Party has had an interesting reaction to Devoy’s appointment, with co-leader Pita Sharples declaring it ‘fantastic’, and Te Ururoa Flavell questioning whether it was appropriate. Such split opinion is possibly indicative of how dysfunctional the party now is. Certainly, statements by the other co-leader, Tariana Turia, leave no doubt about how fraught things are in the party – see Tova O’Brien’s Sharples should go – Turia. Some are seeing the issue as one of age, with younger Maori voters and supporters wanting a changing of the guard – see TVNZ's Maori youth appear to back Flavell for co-leader. The Dominion Post has weighed in with a strongly-worded critique of the party’s position, and of Sharples in particular – see: Leadership fight ruinous for party.
It’s the last working day before the Maori Option begins, which could lead to an additional Maori seat in Parliament. David Farrar discusses the issue, and reckons there’s about a 50/50 chance of another seat – see: Will there be an eight Maori seat?. But if you really want detail on the Maori seat calculations, read Graeme Edgeler’s very serious post: A little known story of the Māori seats. Edgeler has been investigating how the number of Maori seats are calculated and has found that a change in the Government Statistician’s categorisation of who is of Maori descent has led to a greater number of seats. He says that there are good arguments as to why he shouldn't have done it.
Also in the area of Maori politics and race relations, it’s worth watching Guyon Espiner’s TV3 14-minute video, Tuhoe's plans for $170M settlement, which raises allsorts of questions about the future of the Tuhoe and Maori sovereignty. Paul Moon has also commented on some of the Tuhoe issues in The past must be remembered - for us all.
Other recent important or interesting items include the following:
* Opposition dissatisfaction with Parliament’s Speaker is rising – especially over the way he runs Question Time. For the best – and most amusing – explanation of the problem – see Scott Yorke’s Today in Parliament.
* David Shearer’s banking problems are far from trivial according to Vernon Small who concludes that they will be very damaging for his leadership – see: Shearer's bank blunder threatens chances. David Farrar is confused as to why Shearer hasn’t moved his money back to New Zealand, and puts forward a number of possible explanations in The problem for Shearer. Meanwhile, Cameron Slater continues to ponder whether there is a Conflict of interest?. This is an issue addressed by David Chaplin: Banks v Shearer - a non currency affair. But Labour will be much happier with one of the latest polls – see Claire Trevett’s Labour rises at expense of allies.
* Was it a ‘stuff-up’ or a ‘cover-up’? More evidence is emerging of the incredibly poor processes in the GCSB’s pursuit of Kim Dotcom – see Patrick Gower’s Dotcom spying: cover-up or stuff-up?, No Right Turn’s The GCSB coverup and David Fisher’s Spymaster in Dotcom suppression.
* How differently did male and female MPs vote in the recent second reading of the marriage equality bill? What about list vs electorate MPs? Harkanwal Singh has put together a very good map and charts illustrating this – see: Marriage equality bill: How MPs voted.
* Should farmers be welfare recipients in times of severe drought? Michael Naylor, ‘New Zealand's only insurance academic’, argues that Farmers need to be able to insure against drought.
* How different do Opposition parties intend to deal with potential bank failures? Pattrick Smellie points out the similarities and differences between Labour and National in NZ haircut proposal different style to Cyprus.
* Finally, the on-going Novopay disaster produced yet another minor political controversy this week, with news that Banks had Talent2 shares while on committee. But there are even more farcical must-read stories about Novopay – particularly, Toby Manhire’s Talent2 burn: a taste of the Novopay provider’s website and The Civilian’s Novopay debacle solved by restarting computer.
Lew Stoddart (Kiwipolitico): Selections matter
No Right Turn: Was Devoy's appointment unlawful?
Isaac Davison (Herald): Minister defends Dame Susan Devoy's new role
Chris Trotter (Daily Blog): Welcome To The Wasteland
Jock Anderson (NBR): Why racists need to give Susan Devoy a fair go
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On Susan Devoy’s appointment, and the Gillard non-coup
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Judith Collins on Annette Sykes this morning
Southland Times: Editorial – Reconcilable differences
Newstalk ZB: Dame Susan expected to tone down her views
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Could David Shearer become Race Relations Commissioner?
Joelle Dally (Stuff): 'Counter-protest' against racism
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): When can Pakeha celebrate Waitangi Day? A response to Dame Susan Devoy
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): And what exactly are your qualifications as an MP Cathy?
Ideologically Impure: Shouldn’t the Race Relations Commissioner know something about race relations?
Annabel Reid (Newstalk ZB): Disgust from Mana Party at appointment of Dame Susan
Morgan Godfery (Maui Street): Dame Susan Devoy: race relations "not complicated"
Pete George (Your NZ): Should Susan Devoy’s appointment be squashed?
Standard: On Dame Susan Devoy
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Dame Susan: I have to be voice of reason
Isaac Davison (Herald): Critics target Devoy appointment
Laura McQuillan (Newswire): Devoy criticised over anti-burqa comments
Newstalk ZB: Dame Susan shrugs off criticism of new role
Tim Selwyn (Tumeke): Susan Devoy: "ashamed to be a New Zealander"
Newswire (TV3): Susan Devoy takes race relations role
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Dame Susan Devoy new Race Relations Commissioner
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Devoy 'commissioner, not conciliator'
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Susan ‘I’m not racist but’ Devoy
Radio NZ: Waitangi Day is special, says Dame Susan
Catherine Delahunty (Frogblog): “Not a very complicated job” – the new Race Relations Commissioner
John Ansell (Treatygate): Happy Race Relations Day, ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’
John Ansell (Treatygate):
Tova O’Brien (TV3):Sharples should go – Turia
Philippa Ormrod (Newstalk ZB): Three leaders for Maori Party won't work
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): “You can take the leadership out of my cold dead hands” – Sharples channels Heston
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Maori Party leadership
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Will there be an eight Maori seat?
John Drinnan (Herald): Maori funds for The GC
Paul Moon (Herald): The past must be remembered - for us all
Radio NZ: Ngai Tuhoe to initial Deed of Settlement
Pete George (Your NZ): Maori Party leadership lacking
Dominion Post: Editorial: Leadership fight ruinous for party
Graeme Edgeler (Public address): A little known story of the Māori seats
Holly Walker (Frogblog): Māori Electoral Option starts next week
Guyon Espiner (TV3):
Patrick Gower (TV3): Dotcom spying: cover-up or stuff-up?
Felix Marwick (NewstalkZB): Government spy agency could undergo major shake up
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Billy Big Steps gets help from Labour in private prosecution
No Right Turn: The GCSB coverup
Radio NZ: PM says nothing new in Dotcom documents
David Fisher (Herald): Spymaster in Dotcom suppression
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Labour alleges cover up in Dotcom saga
Radio NZ: PM signals change at spy agency
Kate Chapman (Stuff):Labour takes aims at GCSB's legal advice
Anthony Robins (Standard): GCSB cover-up an “operational matter”
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog):
Claire Trevett (Herald): Labour rises at expense of allies
John Armstrong (Herald): Unflashy Shearer starts to turn the numbers around
Vernon Small (Stuff): Voters still backing National, Key
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Latest polls
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): How credible is the Herald’s Digipoll anyway?
Newswire (TV3): Labour up, allies down in new poll
Anthony Robins (Standard): Good poll for Shearer
Eric Crampton (Offsetting Behaviour): Deposit Insurance
John Minto (DailyBlog): Time to nationalise the big banks
Peter Wilson and Sean Martin (TV3): Joyce 'horrified' by bank claims
Chris Trotter (Stuff): Kiwis should fear EU-style raid on savings
Newswire (TV3): Reserve Bank rescue plan 'unlike cyprus'
James Weir (Stuff): Reserve Bank rejects Cyprus comparison
James Weir (Stuff): Banks in NZ 'strongly rejected' OBR
Pattrick Smellie (Stuff): NZ haircut proposal different style to Cyprus
David Shearer’s bank accounts
Vernon Small (Dominion): Shearer's bank blunder threatens chances
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The problem for Shearer
David Chaplin (Herald): Banks v Shearer - a non currency affair
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Banks wants Shearer to resign
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): In the wake of UN bank account revelation – when would Robertson move against Shearer?
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Conflict of interest?
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): How long was it ‘resting in the account’
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Govt not convinced by Shearer's 'forgot' excuse
Pete George (Your NZ): Should Shearer reveal more?
Pete George (Your NZ):
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): Today in Parliament
Local Bodies: Norman Questions Government Accountability
Lloyd Burr (TV3): Parliament's referee offside with Greens
Russell Norman (FrogBlog): Open letter to the Speaker re: Question Time
Radio NZ: Green's open letter to new Speaker
Isaac Davison (Herald): New Speaker's question time 'more chaotic' – Greens
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Sad but true
David Farrar (Kiwiblog):
No Right Turn: No accountability for Solid Energy
Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): No full parliamentary inquiry into Solid Energy
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): No Solid Energy inquiry
NewstalkZB (TVNZ): No inquiry into Solid Energy debt
Peter Wilson and Laura McQuillan (TV3): Auditor-general inquiry sought for Solid Energy
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Solid Energy
Fran O'Sullivan (Herald): Spring Creek delay racked up debts
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Conflict of interest exists over Solid Energy – Labour
RadioLive: Solid Energy inquiry decision expected
Marta Steeman (Stuff):
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Kiwis at front of Mighty River queue: Key
Jason Krupp (Stuff): Mighty River disclosure criticized
Newswire (TV3): Mighty River registration tops 400,000
Ruth Dyson (Red Alert): Vickery auction piece from The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford
John Ansell (Treatygate): Drought crisis: Will Nats take emergency measures and enact their own principles?
Local Bodies: National's Fundamental Failing
Michael Naylor (Herald): Farmers need to be able to insure against drought
Brian Rudman (Herald):
Education and Novopay
The Civilian: Novopay debacle solved by restarting computer
Southland Times: Editorial: Novopaying dearly
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Will this be Hekia’s Parata’s Waterloo?
Toby Manhire (Listener): Talent2 burn: a taste of the Novopay provider’s website
Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): Teachers Council breaking own rules
Taranaki Daily News (Stuff): Ongoing narrative of Novopay debacle
Ashleigh Stewart (Stuff): Kura kaupapa schools refuse to budge
Jody O’Callaghan (Stuff): Call for more openness in teacher cases
Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): $7000 for extra Novopay work won't cover it, says principal
Herald: Education ministry 'ineffective'
Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): Novopay compensation welcomed by sector groups
Catherine Isaac (Dominion): Why teachers may come to love charter schools
Dan Satherley (TV3): Joyce not ruling out more Novopay compensation
Ben Gracewood (NBR): Novopay Technical Review for Dummies
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Banksy held Talent2 shares while on Novopay committee?
Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): Novopay: Banks had Talent2 shares while on committee
Pete George (YourNZ):Labour on GST on overseas purchases
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): IMF on monetary policy
James Weir (Stuff): Economy stronger than expected
Laura Walters (Stuff): Kiwi stable as all eyes on Cyprus
Jane Kelsey (Herald): Long way to go yet for mega trade deal
Brian Fallow (Herald): Borrow-and-spend boom avoided
James Henderson (Standard): One day older and deeper in debt
John Braddock (WSWS): Severe drought threatens new recession in New Zealand
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): Telecom to slash 1500 jobs: Labour
Eloise Gibson (Stuff): NZ Super Fund annual return nearly 18 pc
James Weir (Stuff): Current account deficit widens
Dan Satherley (TV3):
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Christchurch City Council tensions
Abbie Gillies (Herald): Brownlee questioned over fraud allegations
Stephen Franks: Big changes coming in insurance?
Eric Crampton (Offsetting Behaviour): Day 757: Continued regime uncertainty
Newswire/3 News (TV3): EQC won't fight High Court decision
David Killick (Press): Comparing Chch to other NZ cities
Steven Cowan (Against the current): It’s all Yani Johanson’s fault!
Hamish Rutherford and Press Reporters (Stuff):
Poverty, Inequality, and Unemployment
Dan Satherley (TV3): Govt in 'John Banks la-la land' over youth wages
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Youth payrate returns from May
Michael Valley (Standard): Who was then the gentleman?
Susan St. John (Herald): Susan St John: Let's have policies for all children
Pete George (Your NZ): Curran versus KiwiRail
Helen Kelly (Standard): The failures of visual special effects
Newswire (TV3): Employers can now pay $10.80 an hour
Ranjani Ponnuchetty (TVNZ): No cost of living crisis – expert
Ranjani Ponnuchetty (TVNZ): Rising costs 'force cutbacks on essentials'
Ranjani Ponnuchetty (TVNZ): NZ prices 'not so bad in world terms'
Isaac Davison (Herald): Youth wage bill passes by a single vote
Isaac Davison (Herald): Welfare changes come step closer
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Beneficiaries having babies 'reason' for reform
Philip Ferguson (Redline): Realism versus reformism
Newswire (TV3): Ministry opposed benefit reforms
Simon Collins (Herald):
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The decline of newspaper advertising
John Lloyd (Stuff): A free press without total freedom
Simon Jenkins (Guardian):
Marriage equality bill
Harkanwal Singh (Stuff): Marriage equality bill: How MPs voted
Michael Cummings (Manawatu Standard): Editorial: Laws must be applied equally
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish):
Jane Clifton (Listener): The lunatic fringe
No Right Turn: About time
Listener: Editorial: Wired for the world
Brian Easton (Listener): Sky lark
Mark Broatch (Listener): System Sherlock: That thinking feeling
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Green fashion watch – does my hypocrisy look big in this?
Claire Trevett (Herald): Key doffs his sombrero for a taxing time
Rod Vaughan (NBR): What John Key's 'poncho' tour means for NZ business
Jane Dudman (Ethos): Civil service systems around the world
Tim Watkin (Pundit): National out to shrink local government, centralise by stealth
Integrity Talking Points: Select committee effectiveness
James Weir (Stuff): Current account deficit blows out
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Auditors to probe agency's spendup
Rosemary McLeod (Dominion): Little reason for rationalism in religion
David Farrar (Kiwiblog):Ross Sea protection
Dominion: Fathers suffer under old rules
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): Retailers in GST counter-attack
No Right Turn: NZ police use torture
Grant Duncan (PolicyMatters): Should we extend the ACC scheme to cover illness?
Nicole Pryor (Stuff): Court use of 'hired gun' experts concerns
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Manufactured rage?
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Does the ALCP want to be the solution or the problem?
Matt Nippert (Stuff):Tamihere allegedly owes $500k
Edward Gay (Herald): John Tamihere embroiled in legal action over $500k debt
Rebecca Quilliam (Herald): Chairman Mao Gangnam Style ad could offend thousands
Martyn Bradbury (DailyBlog): 3rd Degree gets burnt
Martyn Bradbury (DailyBlog): 3rd Degree review – more yawns than burns
Steven price (MLJ): Law Commission praised
Radio NZ: Proposed RMA changes costly – councils
Jon Morgan (Dominion): RMA overhaul won't help the environment
Daily Blog: Reform NZ abortion law now
Newswire (TV3): MRP pre-registration tops 420,000
Rob Maetzig (Stuff): PM rejects anti-fracking 'nonsense'
Mike Watson (Stuff): Plea not to let coroners' rulings wither
Andrew Koubaridis (Herald): Special report: Gangs of NZ
Adam Bennett (Herald): Minister rejects talk of low morale in forces
Adam Bennett (Herald): Asset sale foes plan to buy in
Nelson Mail (Stuff): Editorial: Rate of improvement
NZ Parliament: Sitting hours – standard and extended
Catherine Harris (Stuff): Sustainability key to future housing
No Right Turn: Our military is spying on us II