Wednesday, May 11, 2011

That "infamous" Orewa speech

Sometimes it’s the apparently offhand remark, the casual throwaway line, that gives the game away. A journalist can convey almost as much with a single loaded word as with a full-on rant.

In an item about National MP Georgina te Heuheu’s impending retirement last night, TV3 political editor Duncan Garner referred to her falling-out with former National leader Don Brash following Brash’s “now infamous Orewa speech” – Garner’s words – in 2004.

Let’s get this straight. “Infamous” means evil, vile or disgraceful. Brash’s Orewa speech, in which he attacked race-based privilege and advanced the perfectly laudable principle of one law for all, was infamous only in the eyes of Maori radicals, the Left and much of the parliamentary press gallery.

The media attacks on Brash that followed his speech were some of the most savage I can recall, but his message resonated with the wider public and took a previously down-and-out National Party within a whisker of victory in 2005. That election gave Labour such a fright that it threw its previous fiscal prudence to the wind and embarked on a desperate three-year vote-buying campaign that substantially contributed to the mess we’re in now.

Garner’s use of the word “infamous” suggests that elements of the media are still determined to portray Brash as racist. But if Garner really considers the speech to have been infamous, he’s hopelessly out of touch with what most New Zealanders apparently think.

Nothing new there, of course. Political journalists may be up with the play in Wellington, but they’re ill-equipped to know what people are thinking in places like Dannevirke, Hamilton and Timaru – and don’t believe them when they try to convince you otherwise.

I have noticed in the past that Australian political journalists, who lean overwhelmingly to the Left, are never more vicious in their attacks on centre-Right politicians than when they sense conservative ideas are gaining traction. Perhaps we’re seeing the same trend here.

On the other hand, maybe we should give Garner the benefit of the doubt. It’s entirely possible that a political editor who can’t pronounce Tuwharetoa (he insisted on inserting an extra syllable into it last night, not once but twice) doesn’t bother to check a dictionary to find out what “infamous” actually means.


The probligo said...

I will believe in "one law for all" when a government applies the same strictures and requirements on landholders with riparian rights as they have imposed (with successive pieces of very bad legislation) on Maori and their claim for foreshore and seabed.

Steve Withers said...

The "one law for all" ideal is a good one, but has nothing to do with the Treaty of Waitangi. There would be no land disputes today had "one law for all" applied from 1840.

But it didn't. As recently as the 1980s Maori leasehold land in Wellington was treated differently to every other kind of property.

But let's get rid of the "race" idea first. The Treaty was an agreement between the people who already lived here and the sovereign backing the new arrivals. It recognised the property and stewardship interests of the original proprietors. Like any property interest, it is inherited by the heirs of the signatories. The signers were Maori, but their descendents and heirs are a happy mixture of the old and the new. That's why we have many blonde-haired, blue-eyed heirs to the Treaty signers. It isn't a race issue at all except for those who can only see brown skin. What hasn't changed is the heirs' rights by inheritance. The "race" issue is an old one used to separate the brown people from their property.

I've been fascinated how consistently people who advance property rights are often the first ones to ignore and deny the property rights implicit in the Treaty. Don Brash would be one of them. This "one law" crap is just today's version of the same old methods used to deny the property rights of the heirs of the people who signed the Treaty.

"One law" would see the property rights of the heirs of the Treaty respected. The many frauds, cheats and scams employed by past settler governments to steal their property - "legally" - would be seen for what they were: cheats.

We still aren't there. When we have "one law" people will stop trying to deny the property and stewardship rights of the heirs of the Treaty signatories.