Graeme Edgeler has posted New Zealand’s most racist law at Public Address, in which he details a ridiculous and racist law, and proposes a way of fixing it. And he seems to achieved his current goal of getting it into the members’ bull ballot.
One person can potentially make a difference at a supposedly politically dead time of year.
Edgeler first does some groundwork, discussing members bills and how to be effective using them.
There a lot a reasons to advance a members bill. From opposition, it can be a good to force an issue onto the agenda, sometimes hoping to get the law changed, but other times, knowing you don’t have the numbers, but wanting to force the government to make an unpopular decision.
Getting a law right is hard. Even the professionals stuff it up (and not all that infrequently). If an MP wants to actually pass a good law from the back benches (or from the opposition), they’re well advised to make it a simple one (or be really really careful!).
He then proposes a good use for a members bill.
I’ve got a simple idea. We should repeal New Zealand’s most racist law.
Sections 30-36 of the Maori Community Development Act 1962(originally the Maori Welfare Act) are laughably offensive.
Early last year there was a rash of instances of tourists having their car keys taken off them by people who had decided they were unsafe to drive. It stopped after a few instances, with police (and even the Prime Minister) warning against it.
What few of the people quite rightly objecting to the mild vigilantism probably realised is that the law actually specifically provides for circumstances when people can have their car keys taken away from them.
Or if the driver is non-Māori, but is in charge of a vehicle near a meeting place, or a lawful gathering of Māori.
It is also illegal to serve alcohol at a gathering of Māori. A Māori Committee can grant a licence to serve alcohol at a gathering of Māori, but only if that gathering is not for the purposes of a dance.
Māori wardens are empowered to enter hotels and to order quarrelsome Māori to leave.
This reads like it comes from one of those lists of ridiculous laws that are still in force, when New Zealand usually seems to be represented by a claim that it’s illegal to fly with a rooster in a hot air balloon (which I’m pretty sure isn’t true).
But it’s worse than a ridiculous law. It’s a racist law.
It has no place in New Zealand. It should never have been the law. And it certainly shouldn’t be law now.
There are a bunch of MPs who do not currently have a bill in the members’ ballot. Well, here’s an idea for you: propose the repeal of sections 30-36 of the Maori Community Development Act. I’ve evendrafted a bill for whichever MP wants to take this up.
And he seems to have had some success.
If no one else has taken it I will.
A couple of other MPs have expressed general support, but none have said they’ll adopt it, so it’s there for the taking.
That’s only initial success, it is still to get into the ballot and then would need to be drawn to get considered by Parliament, but it’s admirable to get this far at a time of the year when politics is generally regarded as on holiday.
One person can potentially make a difference in New Zealand politics, if they do suitable research and preparation, pick battles that can be won and pick a good time to promote their cause.
If Edgeler’s bill does get drawn from the ballot and considered by Parliament it should have a good chance of success.
And not surprisingly the Maori Party backs call to change ‘racist’ law:
Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell agreed the legislation was outdated.
“The circumstances in which it was written was back in the 1960s and the circumstances at the time were far and away different from what we experience now. I think the former minister recognised that, as did the Maori Affairs select committee, we believed it was about time to have a review and attempted to take out the parts that could be dealt with.”
Mr Flavell said a 2014 Waitangi Tribunal review of the law found parts of it needed amendment, and he had been discussing how to go about that with the government and Māori authorities.