“This election, ACT will be campaigning for a referendum on co-governance,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“ACT proposes that the next Government pass legislation defining the Principles of the Treaty, in particularly their effect on democratic institutions. Then ask the people to vote on it becoming law.

“This is what we did this with the End of Life Choice Act, Parliament passed the law and the people ratified it at referendum.

“ACT has been listening to New Zealanders. As I travelled the country on our “Honest Conversations Tour” co-governance was an issue I heard about time and again.

“The great promise of New Zealand is that everyone’s equal. For generations people have travelled long distances to give their children a better tomorrow in this little country where everyone gets an equal chance.

“Today, Labour is trying to make New Zealand an unequal society on purpose. It believes there are two types of New Zealanders. Tangata Whenua, who are here by right, and Tangata Tiriti who are lucky to be here.

“No society in history has succeeded by having different political rights based on birth. Many New Zealanders came here to escape class and caste and apartheid.

“All of the good political movements of the past four hundred years have been about ending discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex and sexuality to treat each person with the same dignity. We are the first country in history that’s achieved equal rights and has division as its official policy. It’s nuts.

The Treaty Principles Act would be short but decisive. It would say:

It would define the Principles of the Treaty as.

  1. All citizens of New Zealand have the same political rights and duties
  2. All political authority comes from the people by democratic means including universal suffrage, regular and free elections with a secret ballot
  3. New Zealand is a multi-ethnic liberal democracy where discrimination based on ethnicity is illegal

“For the avoidance of doubt, these principles prevail over any contradictory enactment by Parliament, or finding on the matter of Treaty Principles by the Courts.

“If a majority of electors voting in a referendum support this Act coming into force, this Act would come into force on date on which the official result of that referendum is declared.

“The effect of the referendum would be to flip the debate on our constitutional future.

“Over the past 40 years, the courts and Waitangi Tribunal have quietly made co-governance our unquestioned and unquestionable destiny.

“In a public debate they would be flushed out. They would have to explain why they believe some people are born with different political rights and duties. They would have to explain why some political authority should come from sources other than free and fair elections with universal suffrage.

“That is a debate worth having. I predict there would be one of two outcomes.

“One is that the world has gone mad, people really do want to be part of a quaint and illiberal South Pacific constitutional experiment. I predict our future would be bleak, but we’d know where we’d stand.

“The other, much more likely, is that we would see a sudden end to the nonsense. The jig would be up. We would assert as a country that we are a modern, multi-ethnic, liberal democracy looking to go forward in the world.

“By ending the obsession with constitutional reform, we could get stuck into the real problems in education, housing, welfare and crime that Māori get the worst end of. We would use innovative and practical solutions that change real peoples’ lives for the better. Charter schools were just the start of that.

“Something else far more important would happen. People who feel alienated would find a place in the Kiwi identity. Māori culture could be taken for what it is, a rich and essential part of New Zealand’s tapestry that is no threat but there to be embraced, along with every other culture that makes up our country.

“ACT says every child born in New Zealand, and everyone legal immigrant, has the same rights. Those are the rights of a citizen. Nobody should get an extra say because of who their great grandparents were. Nobody should have to be treated differently because of who they are.”

ACT has launched a petition that can be found at www.act.org.nz/treaty

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David Seymour