News

How much is it worth spending to save a dolphin?

How much is it worth spending to save a dolphin?
Blog, Jamie Whyte
1/08/2014

How much is it worth spending to save a human life? That may sound like a crass question but it is one that medical systems must answer. Resources are limited and if you spend too much keeping someone alive, that will mean you have too little to spend on other valuable things, including keeping other people alive.

That’s why PHARMAC will not supply a drug if it costs more than $40,000 to keep someone alive for a year.  

That’s humans. What about dolphins? How much is it worth spending to keep a dolphin alive for another year? More than a human, the same as a human or less than a human?

As you might expect, the Greens have addressed this issue. And they have arrived at an interesting answer.  

There are 55 maui’s dolphins living off the coast of Taranaki. To reduce the risk of them being killed, the Greens have proposed restrictions on fishing and energy exploration in the area.

No maui’s dolphins are known to have been killed by these activities. But let’s be generous to the Greens and say that their restrictions will save two maui’s dolphins in a year. A dolphin lives about 50 years. So the average dolphin of the two saved, who might be anywhere between birth and death from old age, gains 25 years of life. That’s a total benefit of 50 years of dolphin life.

What is the cost of the measures to save these 50 years of dolphin life? How much will the Green’s restrictions on energy exploration and fishing cost?  

According to Nick Smith, the Conservation Minister, these restrictions will cost billions of dollars. That’s probably an exaggeration. Let’s again be generous to the Greens and say it will cost only $100 million a year. That puts the cost of saving a year of a maui’s dolphin life at $2 million – 50 times more than the Greens are willing to spend on saving a human life.

Perhaps even my generous estimates are not generous enough. Perhaps, though incredibly implausible, the Greens’ measures will save five dolphins and cost only $50 million. Then they value saving a year of dolphin life at $50 million divided by 125, which is $400,000 – ten times what we spend on saving a year of human life.

However you do the sums, the Greens think that dolphins’ lives are far, far more valuable than human lives. They have not suggested increasing the $40,000 limit on PHARMAC spending to save a year in the life of you or your family members. But to extend the life of a dolphin by a year, they want to spend about $2 million.

Some people believe that voting for the Greens is a sign of virtue. Given that the Greens are willing to spend 50 times more to save a dolphin than to save a human, this must be wrong. Either the Greens have not thought through the implications of their policy, in which they are dangerous fools. Or they have understood the implications, in which case they are profoundly immoral.

ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte calls for resignation of Dame Susan Devoy

Dame Susan Devoy has responded to my speech calling for racial equality by publicly condemning it as “grotesque and inflammatory".

That would be nothing more than a sign of ignorance if she were still a professional squash player.

But she is no longer a squash professional. She is the Commissioner for Race Relations. Her role is specified in legislation.

Nowhere does the legislation say that, unlike other senior state bureaucrats, the Commissioner of Race Relations’ role involves engaging in political campaigns to support particular parties, such as the Mana-Internet Party and the Maori Party.

It is astounding that the Commissioner of Race Relations should condemn me for promoting legal equality between the races.

If Ms Devoy believes that a person’s legal rights should depend on the race of her parents, and if she believes that she should use her state-funded position to promote the electoral prospects of race-based political parties, then she is unfit to hold her position as the Commissioner of Race Relations.

She should resign today.

We need a civilised discussion about racial law

Public Meeting at De Canta Tapas Bar, Devon St, New Plymouth

 

Yesterday I published the speech that I gave to the ACT Party Waikato Conference on Saturday. It concerned a fundamental principle of Western civilisation.

I said that all citizens should be equal before the law.

I realise that in some countries, such as Afghanistan, that might be a controversial idea. Many people in Afghanistan reject the idea that women should have equal rights.

And at earlier times in history the idea was rejected across the Western world. Up to the mid-20th century, laws that privileged men, whites and gentiles were common.

But in New Zealand today, you might expect the principle of equality before the law to be uncontroversial. You might expect that a declaration of commitment to it would be greeted with quiet equanimity, perhaps even a yawn.

Not so. My declaration has triggered vitriolic hostility.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has accused me of "harking back to the same old racism that people before him thought would win them votes".

She says my comments are "straight racism".

"He thinks it's attractive to New Zealanders, but New Zealanders actually know we have to work together,"

"It's old politics, it has no place in New Zealand."

Here is a woman who leads a party with an explicitly race-based agenda, who represents an electorate in which only people of one race are permitted to vote, and she accuses me of being racist. And what racist thing did I do? I suggested that the law should pay no heed to race!

But it is not just political beneficiaries of New Zealand’s race-based laws who display contempt for the principle of equality.

Since publishing my speech I have been exposed to hitherto unimagined absurdity from journalists – unimagined by me, at least. A reporter from Radio NZ asked me if I realised how “offensive” my commitment to equality before the law is.

Offensive?

Equality before the law is a fundamental principle of liberal democracy. Since when is it offensive to defend such principles?

Other journalists have accused me of “playing the race card”.

Suppose you meet two politicians. One says the law should not differentiate between people on the basis of race. The other one says it should. Which politician is playing the race card?

This issue has been turned on its head in New Zealand. Those who want the state to be racially impartial are accused of racism by politicians who openly promote race-based favouritism. And journalists endorse this intellectual perversion.

The most notable thing about the reactions to my speech is that no one has even tried to explain where my argument goes wrong. They ignore the content altogether – except when they are misrepresenting it – and instead bandy about accusations of racism, “dog whistling”, old-fashioned politics and all the rest.

It is pathetic.

By tackling the man rather than the ball, they reveal their inability to show where my argument goes wrong. If they could identify my error they would readily reveal it. But, because they cannot, they instead try to shut me up with accusations of wickedness.

This is a predictable response from people such as Tariana Turia who have built their political careers on playing the race card. But it is dispiriting, indeed alarming, to see journalists playing the same game.

Journalists have an important role to play in a democracy. They are supposed to provide the public with facts and informed analysis that help them to hold politicians to account. They are not supposed to shut down debate with accusations of racism and offensiveness. They are not supposed to be thought police.  

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

I am a new boy in politics.  I was warned that it is impossible to have an intelligent discussion about New Zealand’s race-based laws. You are just shouted down or personally attacked.

Maybe that is true. But, perhaps because I am new, I refuse to accept this. I refuse to accept that we cannot discuss certain topics. Democracy cannot work unless we debate the issues. 

Equality before the law is too important for its violations to be ignored.

Equality before the law is a fundamental constitutional principle. As I explained in my speech in Hamilton – which I hope you will read in the original rather than its media-mutilated versions – it is the foundation of a just and flourishing society.

Set aside all the fear and loathing. Set aside the accusations of racism, and of being out of tune with modern New Zealand. Ask yourself a simple question: Are you in favour of legal equality or not?

You cannot be in favour of it for just some people. That doesn’t make sense. If that is your answer, then you are not in favour of equality before the law.

If you believe in equality before the law, then you need to make a stand.

What we have in New Zealand today is not equality before the law.

For some obvious examples, we have a Maori roll and Maori electorates. Iwi have special rights in the resource consenting process. State funded and directed universities guarantee admission to certain courses on the basis of race. We have such things as Maori wardens, with powers over Maori that they lack over Pakeha.

The political left grew out of a struggle against the legal privileges of the landed aristocracy in Europe. ACT is a descendent of that tradition, especially of the English Liberal Party of the 19th century. That is one of the reasons I often baulk at the party being labelled as right-wing. At the heart of ACT is a rejection of legal privilege.

Alas, the parties that continue to wear the left wing label have now rejected legal equality. Some of them have made this transition within their own life-times.

John Minto famously fought for legal equality in South Africa. Now he stands for a party that is promotes legal inequality in New Zealand.

One of the journalists who called me since my Hamilton speech to abuse me – or interview me, as he preferred to call it – told me that legal privilege for Maori is justified by material inequality: by the fact that Maori on average earn less and die younger than Pakeha and Asians.

I addressed this issue directly in my Hamilton speech.

Most Western countries have developed social “safety nets”: state housing, unemployment benefits, public hospitals, state schools and the rest. If one racial group is disproportionately in need of such help, they will disproportionately receive it without any explicit racial provisions in the law.

Add racial provisions and you get a quite different result. The well-educated child of a high-earning Maori will gain admission to law school with a C, possibly pushing out the disadvantaged child of a poor Indian family who got a B.

Truly disadvantaged Maori do not even get a sniff at law school or at a seat on the Auckland City Council Maori Advisory Board. These “compensations” go to those Maori in no need of compensation. It is no wonder that the most vitriolic opposition to ACT’s policy of legal equality comes from those in the Maori elite who get access to these privileges.

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

I came back to New Zealand because my wife and I think this is the best country in the world to raise a family.

I am white but my daughters are not. I want them to live in a country where that is legally irrelevant. I do not want the law or the government to treat my daughters differently from any other citizens. And, although she is only 11, I think my elder daughter would be bewildered and appalled by the idea that the law would treat her differently on account of her skin colour.

That is not to say that her skin is unimportant. My wife hopes our daughters will come to understand their African heritage, and that it will enrich their lives. But that is a matter for our family, not for the state.

Similarly, I know Maori who have learned to speak Maori in their adulthood. It has meant a lot to them. They already felt an attachment to their ancestry and to places in New Zealand that I envy. I welcome the resurgence of interest and pride in Maoritanga. But, again, that should be a matter of no significance to the law or the government.

Nor are the settlements made by the Waitangi Tribunal relevant to my point about legal equality. The Treaty of Waitangi gave Maori property rights over the land they occupied. Many violations of these rights followed. The remedies provided by the Waitangi Tribunal are not a case of race-based favouritism. They a recognition of property rights and, therefore, something that we in ACT wholeheartedly support.

In short, the importance of Maori culture and the legitimacy of Treaty claims are red-herrings. They cannot justify abandoning the principle of equality before the law.

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

I know enough about New Zealand politics to be unsurprised by the difficulty of defending the principle of legal equality. But I am still disappointed by it.

It is shocking that so many people are willing to abandon a foundational principle of our liberal democracy.

And it is yet more shocking that instead of arguing about the issues, defenders of legal privilege attempt to shout down those who disagree with them with accusations of racism.

I invite voters to ask every candidate where they stand on this issue.

If those who seek office say they are not in favour of legal equality, then how can we expect them to respect the rule of law? How can we expect them to defend our liberal democracy?

In the end, if you believe in democracy, you must vote for it to support it.  If you will not vote for it, then you will not get it. 

On 20 September it is over to you, the voters, to decide if democracy is important to you.

A story about a burglary in Maraenui

The NZ Herald today has a story about a burglary in Maraenui. It should remind voters that burglary is a serious crime, and not merely a crime against property. Amongst the $6,000 worth of possessions stolen from a household headed by a solo mum were the electronic gear and birthday presents of her autistic son.

When the police arrived and the boy discovered what had happened he had a meltdown. According to his mother, “the last meltdown like that was a long time ago”. Amongst the possessions he lost was a laptop he needs for his school work because his handwriting is so poor. His mother has been unable to sleep and feels close to throwing up with anxiety.

These burglars are heartless thugs. They have done a dreadful thing.

Yet even if they are caught, they face a small chance of going to prison. Less than 5% of burglaries result in a conviction. Only 40% of convictions result in a prison sentence. And the average sentence is 15 months, of which burglars typically serve only half in prison before being released on parole. There’s a very good chance the Maraenui burglars are recidivists.

ACT’s Three Strikes policy will put an end to the outrage of career burglary. A burglar’s third conviction will earn him three years in prison without parole. It’s time to stop sympathising with the criminals and start showing some concern for their victims. 

Spat between Minister Smith and Fish and Game overdue - ACT

With the latest spat between Minister Nick Smith and Fish and Games Bryce Johnston hitting fever pitch, ACT Primary Industry Spokesman Don Nicolson says a review of the Fish and Game legislation will be an ACT ambition in the next parliament.

“If Dr Smith is sincere about his recollection of a discussion with Mr Johnston recently, then it is clear he needs the legislative privilege of Fish and Game reviewed,” says Mr Nicolson.

“ACT’s view is that all creatures of statute can become overbearing, and even arrogant, and we will support any government who clips the wings of privilege.

"As part of our mission to cut the green tape that is holding the economy back, ACT will push the next government to rein in bodies like Fish and Game by altering - or even repealing - their mandate.

"That’s vital if New Zealand is to have strong economic development, and fewer busy body government-funded lobby groups. Rural and urban voters alike, who want to help make this happen, should give their party vote to ACT," Don Nicolson concludes.

 

Media Contact:  Don Nicolson   PH 0272266331

ACT Candidate for Epsom delighted by second endorsement

ACT Candidate for Epsom delighted by second endorsement
David Seymour, ACT Candidate for Epsom
29/07/2014

ACT Candidate for Epsom delighted by second endorsement

“I’ve had my second endorsement in only 24 hours. I didn’t think there could be a clearer indication to centre-right voters of how to vote than that given by the Prime Minster yesterday. 

“However, Internet Mana Leader Laila Harre, who turns out to be an Epsom Voter, has clearly signalled the importance of voting for me by putting her support behind the National Party Candidate in order to change the government.

“Harre’s announcement should make it crystal clear that electing me in Epsom is critical to continuing stable centre-right government.

ENDS

The Letter - 28 July 2014

STOP PRESS: Key Gives Nod for Seymour in Epsom

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This afternoon the PM acknowledged the importance of Epsom to National’s re-election prospects when he said he wanted National’s supporters in Epsom to vote for ACT’S David Seymour.  We always thought David could win Epsom, for which he has been campaigning door to door (9,000 doors so far) since February, but with this support from the PM he is certain to be Epsom’s next MP.

THIS MEANS EVERY PARTY VOTE FOR ACT COUNTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

A PARTY VOTE FOR ACT IS NOT A WASTED VOTE. A PARTY VOTE FOR ACT HELPS KEEP A JOHN KEY-LED GOVERNMENT IN POWER.

 

Panic in Labour List

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Because of the way MMP works, Labour is facing losing all of its list MPs, while still winning back some constituency seats.  

 

MMP rules of thumb

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As much of the electorate does not understand MMP, the Labour and National poll vote is overstated by about 5%.  But in the marginal seats, where the electorate realises there is a real contest, the Labour and National votes increase.    

Labour could win 3 to 4 extra constituency seats.

Labour should win: Christchurch Central - the seat was Labour’s safest; Waimakariri - Kate Wilkinson is retiring and Clayton Cosgrove is contesting; Napier - where popular Chris Tremain is retiring and Stuart Nash is Labour’s candidate. We would add Mangakiekie, where boundary changes now favour Labour, except the Labour candidate Carol Beaumont is a proven vote loser.  So as not to help Labour, ACT will not stand candidates in these marginal seats.  

 

No Labour list MPs

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On present polling, number seven on the Labour list, Kelvin Davies, misses out.  For every constituency Labour wins, a list member is ejected. If Labour wins 3 seats, out goes Moana Mackey, Maryan Street and Andrew Little.  If Beaumont wins, Sue Moroney is out. (Spot the difference). If Labour’s vote falls just another 2% during the campaign, it’ll be highly likely that Jacinda Adern and David Parker are out too. A very real conundrum is facing Labour’s planners.

 

Policy Wonks

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There has been a bit of a reaction to our statement that we think it was a mistake for ACT to have gone into government in the past.  Whale Oil points out that, by being in government, ACT has achieved Partnership Schools, which have been a brilliant success.  But Partnership Schools came from the Confidence and Supply Agreement between ACT and National – not by not by taking ministerial offices.  ACT will again enter into a Confidence Agreement to deliver stable centre/right government.  National does not lack MPs who will make competent Ministers.  What National lacks is fresh, new ideas.  That is what ACT will deliver.

 

Best new idea

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What if there is a policy that will increase New Zealand’s GDP growth sustainably by a third, significantly reduce unemployment and lift real wages?  What if we can pay for it by getting rid of the useless greenhouse emissions trading scheme and corporate welfare?  This policy is backed by many of the world’s leading economists; Larry Summers, former US Secretary of the Treasury and Vernon Smith, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and even President Obama.  Jamie Whyte will be announcing the new policy this week – keep an eye out for it.

 

Green Labour

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Buried in Labour’s “pro wood” policies is a proposal that companies needing to buy offsetting carbon credits must purchase 50% of their carbon credits from New Zealand forestry owners.  It is called global warming for a reason.  A New Zealand carbon credit is no better for the environment.  Labour admits New Zealand forestry owners will increase the price of ETAs but then says “COST: This measure will be revenue-creating rather than a net expenditure”.  That is like saying a tax increase has no cost because it raises government money!

 

Some Goss

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Where does this nonsense come from?  The transfer of the Central North Island forests to iwi has made Maori the nation’s biggest forest owners.  A new generation of Maori leaders’ whole work experience has been that wealth comes from the government.  How to increase the value of their forests?  Get the government to change the rules to force the country to use wood.  Iwi have lobbied Shane Jones who has been the driver of this potentially multi-million dollar gravy train.

 

Forced Consumption

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Jamie Whyte put the issue rather well in his daily blog.

“Yesterday my 10-year-old told me she had a brilliant idea to boost economic growth. She had learnt at school that much of the money earned in New Zealand comes from the food industry. So, she figured, if the government just forced people to buy more food, then even more money would be made from food and we would all be richer. Only joking; my daughter isn’t that stupid. But apparently David Cunliffe is.”

In a recent speech to ForestWood 2014, a gathering of the forestry industry, David Cunliffe began by observing that forestry is a big part of the New Zealand economy. He then claimed that he could make it an even greater source of wealth to New Zealanders by forcing us to buy more wood. He would do this by using taxpayers’ money to build government offices and 100,000 “affordable homes” out of wood.

Many of the assembled wood growers must have been thrilled. How delightful to hear a politician’s plan to force people to buy their products! But I hope that at least a few of them were disgusted. Mr Cunliffe’s policies are not merely a path to national economic decline. They appeal to immoral and anti-social urges: vote for me and I will prey on others for your benefit.

Benjamin Franklin said that democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Mr Cunliffe should be ashamed of confirming this cynical view of his job.”

 

Fairfax media thinks ACT will do well

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The Dominion last week ran a beat up that John Thompson, the president of ACT, has a conflict of interest because he is a Kiwi fruit exporter who supports the opening of the export market.  The story only makes sense if you believe ACT will hold the balance of power.  Actually, it still does not make sense. The President of the Labour Party is often a trade unionist.  Labour was founded by trade unions to promote their interests.  The Fairfax papers have never claimed Labour having a trade unionist as their president is a conflict of interest.  Someone needs to tell the Dominion that ACT is a free market party.

 

Govern Alone?

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Maybe the Fairfax media is right that ACT will do exceptionally well.  In the NZ Herald poll, ACT has gone from zero to 0.8%.  As a percentage increase that is an infinite increase.  Projected forward at that rate of increase, ACT could govern alone.  That statement is no sillier than the commentary the Herald has run on its poll.  We are not trumpeting ACT’s spectacular rise because the margin for error in the poll is 3.5%. So ACT might already be on 3%.

 

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Speech: Race has no place in the law

Speech to the Waikato Conference: 26 July 2014
Race has no place in the law
Jamie Whyte, ACT Party Leader

 

David Cunliffe recently apologised to a Women’s Refuge symposium:

“I don't often say it – I'm sorry for being a man … because family and sexual violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.”

The Prime Minister accused Cunliffe of being insincere. Maybe he was.

Or maybe not. The apology conforms to Labour party thinking. Whereas we in ACT believe in personal responsibility, the Labour party believes in collective responsibility.

Those who believe in collective responsibility see people not so much as individuals but as members of groups: men and women, gays and heterosexuals, the rich and the poor, Maori and Pakeha. 

For example, the Labour Party has a rule that half the people on their list must be women. This is intended to ensure equal parliamentary representation for women. 

Labour believes that a man cannot represent a woman in parliament, even if she votes for him. And that a woman automatically represents other women, even if they did not vote for her or disagree with her. All that matters is group membership.

Similarly, Cunliffe believes he is responsible for sexual violence, even though has never perpetrated any, simply because he is a man.

This “identity politics” comes easily to many people. It is a way of thinking with ancient roots in mankind’s tribal history.

Nevertheless, it is ugly. It is the mindset that lies behind such obscenities as collective punishment and clan feuding.  

Overcoming this way of thinking has been one of the great achievements of modern civilisation. The most important part of this achievement is the principle that everyone is equal before the law.

 

*  *  *  *  *

Everybody knows the image of Lady Justice in her Grecian robes holding the scales of justice while blindfolded. But many do not know what the blindfold is supposed to stop her seeing.

The answer is the identity of the person being judged. Justice requires that she pay no heed to who it is she is judging – she will make the same decision whether you are a man or a woman, a lord or a peasant, black or white.

Alas, the principle that the law should be impartial has never been fully embraced in New Zealand. Even today, after any number of equal rights movements, New Zealand law makes a citizen’s rights depend on her race.

The reparations made to iwi by the Waitangi Tribunal are NOT an example of this. The Treaty of Waitangi gave Maori property rights over the land they occupied. Many violations of these rights followed. The remedies provided by the Waitangi Tribunal are not a case of race-based favouritism. They are recognition of property rights and, therefore, something that we in ACT wholeheartedly support.

Nevertheless, there are many areas where New Zealand law fails to be properly blind to race.   

The most obvious example is the persistence of the Maori electoral roll and Maori Seats, which guarantee parliamentary representation on the basis of race. This mistake is now being repeated in the Auckland Super City, where council decisions must be run past a Maori advisory board.

Many people have opinions about what other people should do with their property. Under the Resource Management Act, how much weight your opinion carries depends on your race. If you are Maori, you have a say on these matters that others lack.

Some state run or state directed organisations openly practice race-based favouritism. I know a woman who has raised children by two fathers, one Pakeha and the other Maori. If her Pakeha son wants to attend law school at Auckland University, he will have to get much higher grades than her Maori son.

I will not go on. There is no question that the law in New Zealand is not racially impartial. 

The question is why race-based laws are tolerated, not just by the Maori and Internet-Mana Parties, but by National, Labour and the Greens.

I suspect the reason is confusion about privilege.

Maori are legally privileged in New Zealand today, just as the Aristocracy were legally privileged in pre-revolutionary France.

But, of course, in our ordinary use of the word, it is absurd to say that Maori are privileged. The average life expectancy of Maori is significantly lower than Pakeha and Asian. Average incomes are lower.  Average educational achievement is lower.

Legal privilege offends people less when the beneficiaries are not materially privileged, when they are generally poorer than those at a legal disadvantage.

Of course, many Maori are better off, better educated and in better health than many Pakeha. And these are often the Maori who take most advantage of their legal privileges, especially those offered by universities and by political bodies.

Alas, people are inclined to think in generalities, and they fail to notice that it is the materially privileged individuals in the legally privileged group who capture the benefits. They think of Maori as generally materially disadvantaged; and they see their legal privileges as a form of compensation. 

But the principle of legal equality is far more important than any redistributive or compensatory impulses that people may have.  It is not some philosophical nicety to be discarded because you feel guilty about what people with the same skin pigment as you did 150 or 200 years ago.

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

Why is the principle of legal equality so important?

Many people will feel no need to have it explained. To many of us, it seems no more than obvious that the law should not privilege people from one race over people from other races.

Indeed, many on the left of New Zealand politics once held this position. John Minto once led a movement devoted to fighting the legal privileges of whites in South Africa. He is now a candidate for the Internet-Mana Party, an organisation dedicated to extending racial privilege in New Zealand. If he ever believed in the principle of legal equality, he has abandoned it now.

And not just John Minto and the Internet-Mana Party. As I have said, National, Labour and the Greens – the biggest three parties in New Zealand – all support explicitly race-based laws.

Apparently, many people do need to be reminded why the principle of legal equality is important.

It is important because, without it, society becomes a racket.

When people are equal before the law, they can get ahead only by offering other people goods or services that they value. We are all playing to the same rules, and we do well only if we “deliver the goods”. This promotes not only economic growth and prosperity but civility. It forces people to attend to the preferences of others.

Where people enjoy legal privilege, by contrast, they can get ahead without doing anything of value for other people. Because the system is rigged in their favour, they don’t need to “deliver the goods”.

Suppose, for example, that the government decided that Japanese women deserved a legal privilege. They should be allowed to erect barriers across the roads they live on. Anyone wanting to proceed down the road must negotiate with these women to get the barriers lifted.

This would provide Japanese women with an opportunity to make easy money by charging people a fee to lift their barriers. It would thereby divert them from productive occupations. It would drive up the cost of travelling around the city, as people either took longer routes or paid the fees. And it would create feelings of resentment towards Japanese women.

This may sound fanciful. But it is precisely the situation that the Resource Management Act (RMA) has created with regard to resource consents and iwi. If you want to proceed with developing land near iwi, you may well have to pay iwi for permission to proceed. That easy money diverts Maori from more productive activity, drives up the cost of developing land and creates resentment towards Maori.

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

Nor does legal privilege do Maori any good over the long-run.

Allow me another analogy. Imagine that SANZAR, the body that administers the Super 15, decided that the Blues deserved a legal privilege. Whereas all the other teams will continue to earn 5 points for a try, the Blues will earn 10.

This would benefit Blues players over the short-term. They would win many more games than they now do. But giving the Blues this advantage in the rules would reduce their incentive to work hard on their skills and fitness. After a while, standards of play at the Blues would decline. Fewer Blues players would be selected for the All Blacks.

Return to those half-brothers I mentioned earlier: one Pakeha who will need an “A” to get into law school, one Maori who will need only a “C”. Which one is more likely to work hard at school? Which one is more likely to make the most of his potential?

Many Maori identify strongly with their culture. I have Maori friends who have learnt to speak Maori as adults, and they have been enriched by the experience. I see in them, and in other Maori I meet, a connection with their ancestry and with places in New Zealand lacked by many of us whose ancestors came here more recently – a connection that I envy.

But this should be a matter of complete indifference to the law. There are many cultures in New Zealand. People identify with all sorts of things. Some New Zealanders identify with their sexuality, some with their profession, some with their religion, some with their political beliefs and some – perhaps most – with nothing in particular.

The government should not select some of these “identities” as special and confer legal advantages on them. Culture should not be nationalised.

It is not only those in the non-favoured cultures who have reason to resist. Those in the nationalised culture have the most to lose.

Healthy cultures are dynamic. They evolve and adapt to the changing world. Becoming an “official”, government-sponsored culture is stultifying. What counts as Maori culture and worthy of state protection or promotion must be decided by politicians and bureaucrats under the influence of those who lobby them.

Just as Maori students do not benefit from being given an easy ride, Maori culture risks being crippled by its entanglement with the state. It risks becoming a quaint relic of the 19th century, good for tourists and “Maori leaders” on the take but of no relevance to young Maori of the 21st century.    

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

Race-based favouritism is doing Maori no real good.

But even if it were, ACT would still oppose it. Because society should not be a racket, no matter who the beneficiaries are – be they men (who continue to enjoy legal privilege in many countries), the landed nobility or people of indigenous descent. Law-makers must be impervious to the special pleading of those who wish to set aside the principle of legal equality.

Alas, politicians from the other parties have not merely listened but acquiesced. New Zealand is awash with race-based law.

After the coming election, ACT’s MPs will work to have all race-based laws repealed. The precise mechanism or process must be decided once a government is formed. But the particular process followed is not as important as the goal.

There is no place for race in the law.

And there is no place for race-based laws in New Zealand.     

David Seymour: "We are going to campaign harder"

Press Release: We are going to campaign harder
David Seymour, ACT Epsom Candidate
ACT Epsom – 29/07/2014

We are going to campaign harder

“It was great news to learn that John Key says I am his recommendation for Epsom. While the Prime Minister is an important person and he is my pick to remain Prime Minister, John Key is just one voter. I am not going to stop my old fashioned door-knocking campaign until I have put my case to every voter.

“I have been pleased to learn that the Prime Minister is impressed with my campaign and that is one of the reasons he is endorsing my candidacy.

“I intend to demonstrate to all Epsom voters that I will be a hard-working representative of Epsom by continuing to raise local issues that most candidates ignore but are important to voters such as school zoning changes without proper consultation.”

ENDS

The Sunday Series with Jamie Whyte - 27 July 2014

Jamie Whyte talks green tape, why it's bad for the economy (and the environment) and how ACT plans to untangle us from it.

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