The Death of Democracy

New Zealand Centre for Political Research

The New Zealand Centre for Political Research is a web-based think tank that takes a research-based approach to public policy matters and encourages the free and open debate of political issues. www.nzcpr.com

“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and under-nourishment.”

– Robert Maynard Hutchins

Apathy and indifference are indeed major threats to our democracy, not only through low voter turnouts in elections, but more importantly, by leaving open a window of opportunity for extremist minority interest groups to impose their will on the majority.

It is inherently distasteful that there are individuals who resort to manipulation, intimidation, or violence to impose their will upon others.

The dreadful cafe hostage situation in Sydney shows just how deadly religious fanaticism can be. In our own society, other forms of minority manipulation are much more subtle. Some nevertheless, pose a threat to our way of life. As diverse as these groups may be the commonality is self-interest.

Environmentalists use claims of imminent ecological collapse to persuade followers that mankind must be controlled, our movements restricted, and our influence on the planet minimised. They convince their supporters that progress is plunder, that freedom is dangerous, and that computer models are more accurate than real-life evidence. They claim their agenda is the only way to save the planet from catastrophic destruction.

Maori supremacists have long used ‘first people’ and ‘Treaty partnership’ arguments to demand special privileges from the government. They want sufficient power and control to become a ruling class – relegating all other New Zealanders to second class status. They are playing a long game – while at one time they were labelled as the radical extremists that they are, they have re-branded as ‘respectable’, persuading many in academia, the media, the public service, and Parliament to support their cause.

Anyone who criticises their sovereignty agenda is targeted as a racist. Through intimidation and fear, they are successfully stifling opposition, clearing the path for eventual victory.

In days gone by, everyone used to speak out freely against fanatics, but in this present age of political correctness, where those opposing minority views are vehemently attacked, and where the media mostly fails to address both sides of the debate, the silence from the public can be almost deafening.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, Canterbury University Law Lecturer, David Round, picks up on this theme, decrying the lack of response to the attack on our democracy being waged by the Waitangi Tribunal through its declaration that Maori did not cede sovereignty to the Crown:

“To return to my main point – the silence. This Waitangi Tribunal report, after all, is breath-taking. It is an announcement that the leaders of the increasingly strong Maori separatist movement now consider themselves strong enough to make a completely fresh claim, to some sort or other of ‘sovereignty’. It is impossible to know exactly what is meant by that ~ but there is no doubt that it will mean far-reaching fresh demands for money and permanent undemocratic power. This is momentous. Every New Zealander concerned about the erosion of our democracy, our prosperity and our polity should be up in arms about this. Every public servant should be deeply concerned about this erosion of fundamental constitutional principles, and every member of our intellectual class should view with horror the establishment of a new undemocratic principle of inherited racial privilege.

“But even if we explain the silence of these groups of people as nothing more than some sorry mix of apathy, ignorance, the pressure of more urgent matters, a dash of cowardice and the treason of the educated classes, the silence of Maori cannot be so explained. This is why I suggest that it is too quiet. Unless I have failed to notice quite a lot, not one of the usual suspects, our umpteen part-Maori radicals and malcontents, has entered into any public rejoicing at all. When you think about it, this is incredibly unusual. These people are vocal on every occasion. They must be beside themselves with glee at this Report. Yet not one of them is saying a word. This cannot be by coincidence; it must be as a result of a generally agreed plan, or understanding at least. And why? I can think of only one explanation. And that is, that the plan is that the majority of the people of this country are not to be alarmed yet. They are not yet completely in the trap. Only when more time has passed, and more ‘authority’ from the Tribunal has been invented, will the trap be sprung and the celebrations begin; and when we complain, the response will be an ingenuous ‘But this is all established. The Tribunal found this years ago. There’s no dispute…’ And then there will be nothing that we can say.”

This was certainly the strategy of iwi leaders in the run up to the repeal of Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed, when the word went out that no-one was to ‘scare the horses’. They did not want the public alarmed that their historical rights were about to be taken away in favour of iwi ownership and control of our coast.

And of course the results of that law change are now starting to trickle through (expect a tidal wave as the 2017 deadline for lodging claims approaches), with the Ministry of Justice reporting that seven claims have been lodged for “customary marine title and protected customary rights through recognition agreement with the Crown” for areas in the Hawke’s Bay, the Coromandel, the Marlborough Sounds, Langs Beach, and the Kaipara Harbour, along with four application for “customary marine title lodged with the High Court” for areas including Stewart Island and the Hawke’s Bay. Ten claims have been rejected.

When iwi win ownership rights to the foreshore and seabed under the Marine and Coastal Area Act, they will gain control of the area akin to private title. While the law prevents them from charging recreational users, they will have the right to declare areas wahi tapu to prevent public access. In addition, they will have the right to charge commercial operators for their use of the beach and sea.

Charging commercial operators also appears to be the main objective of the iwi pushing for co-governance arrangements over public resources.

Once the Te Hiku Claims Settlement Bill is passed into law, Far North iwi will gain co-governance rights over 90 Mile Beach, and while the Minister is busy reassuring tourism operators that they have nothing to fear, iwi are already claiming that vehicles on the beach are damaging shellfish beds. This is no doubt a prelude to the introduction of a fee paying regime.

That is also occurring in our once prized Urewera National Park, where all Department of Conservation hunting permits have been suspended by the new Tuhoe-Crown co-management board. They will no doubt be re-issued once a new charging regime has been put in place that delivers the proceeds to Tuhoe.

The momentum is building.

In Auckland, thousands of sites claimed to be of significance to iwi – that had been rejected by previous councils – have now been imposed on Aucklanders by council planners working in cahoots with the Maori Statutory Board. Anyone living near these areas has to seek approval from up to 19 iwi for resource consents.

And thanks to the advocacy of the Local Government Commission – headed by a member of the Waitangi Tribunal – this sort of problem may not be restricted to Auckland in the future as Maori Statutory Boards are being proposed as part and parcel of many council amalgamation proposals.

Around the country iwi are holding secret meetings with local authorities to persuade them to appoint their representatives – with voting rights – onto council standing committees, especially the powerful resource consent committees. Iwi don’t want the councils seeking ratepayer approval because they know the public would object.

In his article, David Round mentions that in a recent report the Waitangi Tribunal appears to be setting the scene for the establishment of an independent Maori Police Force.

In a new report, the Waitangi Tribunal found Tuhoe have “rights akin to ownership” in Lake Waikaremoana and that “The Crown’s failure to ‘recognise and preserve to Maori the ownership of their water’ is an alleged Treaty breach”. In other words, the Waitangi Tribunal is again pushing for Maori ownership of New Zealand’s fresh water supplies.

If you are concerned enough to want to keep abreast of the insidious creep of racial privilege and the consequential undermining of our democracy, then you might like to follow Mole News on the Breaking Views blog. The Mole provides updates on a near daily basis, and when you see the speed of the progress of the separatists – and the resulting erosion of public rights – the need for action becomes obvious.

The key question New Zealanders face, is whether we want a society where the 80 percent majority of the population are ignored in favour of minority interests – or a society where the 80 percent are respected?

Underlying this debate is politics. Leaders of radical minority groups motivate and mobilise their followers for power and control. Whether they are after recognition, status, influence, law changes, territory, public resources, money, or other things, they are skilled at using emotive persuasion as their tool. Their followers are often blind to the fact that they are being exploited for the benefit of the elite, who are driving the agenda.

Extremist minority groups often raise the spectre of the tyranny of the majority in their call for special government favours. But that’s a cop out. A population is made up of individuals, each with their own individual views that need to be respected. That they concur with others over how their country should be run to make up a majority, is not a crime but a strength. The majority view is the summation of all of the individual minority views.  It’s not tyranny – it is the wisdom of the crowd.

In a decent society, the attempts by fanatics to seek power and influence must be opposed.

That’s what the NZCPR does. We take a leadership role – especially in areas where few others are prepared to speak out. We cannot allow our democracy and way of life to be destabilised, without taking a stand and fighting back.

So, I will finish this final article of the year with a fundraising plea. If you want the NZCPR to continue to be your voice, speaking out on these challenging issues – then we need your backing. We cannot do this alone. Your support empowers us to be strong. It is a collaborative effort.

Through your support the NZCPR is helping to change New Zealand’s future direction. And with the huge challenges that lie ahead, your support is needed now more than ever before.

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