Character test for John Key
If John Key is the honest, principled politician many Kiwis have assumed he is, he’ll be working hard to persuade his supporters that two current issues should stay separate.
One is what he should do about the Foreshore and Seabed Act, which put Labour so badly offside with many Maori a few years ago.
The other is how he should respond to the idea that Maori be guaranteed at least a couple of seats on Auckland’s supercity council.
The temptation for him will be to see the two matters as connected, with one as a tradeoff for the other.
He could argue he’d be doing Maori a favour by repealing the foreshore law – and Rodney Hide and his mates a favour by blocking automatic Maori representation on the Auckland council.
Mr Key could pretend he was being evenhanded by sharing out the goodies – one for the bros and one for the rednecks.
And what, he could ask his supporters, could be fairer?
But that would be the easy way out, and a dis- honest one at that.
Repealing the law wouldn’t be a favour for Maori. Nobody, not even Labour – who stuffed it all up to start with backs the original legislation. It was a clumsy, panicky response to the fuss prompted by National and morons in the mainstream media about access to beaches.
And now it’s in the interests of all to sort the mess out, not as a special privilege for Maori – which it isn’t, but for the sake of justice and our country’s selfrespect.
I have no doubt Mr Key will be watching public reaction to Winston Peters’ rants about the foreshore issue being captured by Maori activists.
However politically tempting it must be for him, it would be morally wrong to paint a repeal of the foreshore law as a victory for Maori, and one that had to be balanced by a loss in the make-up of the Auckland council.
Ultimately his behaviour over these two issues will tell us a great deal about his character and sense of justice.