Tuesday, September 27, 2011

NZ ACT Party Leader Position on Fiji Marks Desperation to be Relevant

NZ ACT Party Leader Don Brash
Those of you worried by recent remarks by the leader of NZ's ACT Party, Dr Don Brash, supporting closer links and dialogue with the illegal regime in Fiji should not be the least bothered. It is no more than a quest by a divisive leader to stay relevant and gain leverage over an issue in order to lift his party's abysmal poll standing in the lead up to the November Elections here in NZ.

The ACT party is in disarray after none of the current MPs wanted to hang around come the next Elections and this is no small part due to its new leader who seized the leadership with a promise to deliver a rise in its standing in the polls. With only 2 months out from the Election, that is nigh impossible and its hope may rest solely on a former national Minister & former Auckland mayor, John Banks, winning the Epson seat following a deal with the ruling national party not to put up a candidate in the seat. Even Banks is now at loggerheads with Brash over his support to decriminalise cannabis!

Brash's stance on Fiji can therefore be regarded as another attempt to curry favour with the disaffected minority who favour relaxing NZ's tough stance on Fiji. Other major parties are generally in agreement in that Fiji first needs to demonstrate a serious commitment to returning Fiji to democratic rule before relaxation of current sanctions and bans can be effected. So far no such clear and serious indications, despite close door revelations and pontifications at the UN podium, have been forthcoming from the illegal regime in Fiji.

John Samy
What is disturbing though from Brash's speech on Fiji is the reference to the illegal Charter for Change, and its author, John Samy, as a key figure behind moves to soften NZ's position. It further reveals the regard people like John Samy have for a person known in NZ as strongly opposed to Maori self determination and positive discrimination in order to lift minority groups out of poor socio-economic situations. It says more therefore of John Samy's philosophical bias than it does Don Brash's well known libertarian and ultra conservative political ideology.

In a way though both are united in their views about the position of the first peoples of the country of their birth. John Samy's support for the illegal regime in Fiji is well documented with his contribution in developing the illegal Charter now touted to provide the bulwark for Fiji's next Constitution. If a new constitution is allowed to be forced on the people of Fiji, one thing is certain and that will be the further erosion of the position of the indigenous Fijians in the naive quest to forcibly bring about national unity to a multicultural nation. Given the current policies and programmes of the illegal regime in power since 2006, the groundwork for these are already in place with the destruction of Fijian institutions, opening up of Fijian lands and fisheries and the misguided notion of unifying a nation just by changing the reference for all Fiji citizens to now be called "Fijians".

Don Brash firmly believes in "One NZ" such that the indigenous Maori would not necessarily have the status as the first people of Aotearoa NZ. Yes he supports equal opportunity and equal status for all NZers while questioning efforts by Maori to obtain redress for past wrongs. In effect, it would be difficult to see Brash's NZ as something other than one populated by white middle class. In policy terms, mainstreaming would become the norm where targeting of programmes on the basis of need or ethnicity would not be favoured. In NZ, mainstreaming has not generally worked as a policy prescription given the persistence of poverty and poor outcomes within specific groups in society. One solution approach for differing levels of need and socio-economic circumstances rarely works and often result in far more cost to government.

Today's Wellington paper (page 2, The Dominion Post) carries two articles on Don Brash which sums up pretty well his impact as a politician.

"Brash may have sounded the death knell for ACT" - portray his propensity to inaccurately assess the public mood for major changes in attitude for key social issues with disastrous effect for his party!

"Leader's cannabis stance opens rift" - depicts his divisive nature in bulldozing through his personal views on decriminalising cannabis!

When Brash's position on Fiji is then calibrated against the sentiments above, it should be readily clear that it is no more than the panderings of a politician struggling to be relevant and dancing to the tunes of a disaffected minority at the fringes of society. 

John Samy also shares a similar description as he attempts to remain in the good books of the dictator Bainimarama, even after fleeing Fiji, having handed over his blueprint for changing Fijian society, and pocketing handsomely from the nation's treasury.


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