Yesterday Hekia Parata announced she won’t be standing again in next year’s election.
Patrick Gower opined in Hekia Parata gives John Key a ‘white guy’ problem:
Hekia Parata quitting might give John Key a space in Cabinet – but the problem is a massive queue of white guys lining up to join a line-up of white guys.
Parata’s resignation and Nikki Kaye’s health issues means there are now just five women in Key’s 20-person Cabinet. In contrast, there are 12 white guys – hardly representative of New Zealand in 2016.
As both a woman and a Māori, Parata gave the ministry a real point of difference. More importantly, she was there on merit too.
The inconvenient truth for Key is there is a dearth of females and ethnicities in his Caucus.
There are only 17 women out of the 59 MPs (by contrast, 12 out of 31 Labour MPs are female). And only six of the male National MPs aren’t Pakeha.
National’s gender balance improved slightly when Mike Sabin resigned from Northland and they lost the by-election (with a white male candidate).
When Tim Groser resigned he was replaced with Maureen Pugh as next on the National list.
If Parmjeet Parmar wins the Mt Roskill by-election National will get another woman off the list, Misa Fia Turner. That would only bring them up to 18/59, about a third female, but it will improve their ethnic balance.
If Labour’s Michael Wood wins Mt Roskill they won’t improve their gender imbalance of 12/31, nor their ethnic imbalance. If he loses it will improve both slightly.
Also yesterday Phil Goff announced that Bill Cashmore would be his deputy mayor. Penny Hulse was regarded as too closely associated with the Len Brown era, and it is claimed she didn’t get on well with some councillors. Cashmore is described at The Spinoff as “constructive and dependable, he is a kind of centre-right National-aligned twin to Goff, which should help the mayor secure majorities in council”.
A reaction from Twitter:
Goff won the Auckland mayoralty easily, with his closest rival being an inexperienced (in politics) woman, Vic Crone.
So is there a problem with white male politicians?
There are more white male candidates so it’s nor surprising there will be more white male politicians, especially when, like Goff, they are leading candidates.
Goff stood as an independent, sort of.
But parties choose their electorate candidates and their lists. Are they biased in favour of white men?
Often the successful candidate is determined by party selections prior to the election but ultimately it is the voters who choose electorate candidates, and via the party vote they give the only 50/50 gender party the Greens about a tenth of the vote. Other things seem to be more important to voters than gender balance.
Are white men inferior as politicians?
Or is there a lack of non-white, non-male candidates willing to put themselves forward?
It can’t be ruled out that a majority of females and non-whites prefer white male candidates.
Diversity in political representation is important, but competence, and choice of the voters, should still be given some weight.