Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tampering with the democracy that attracted them here

(First published in The Dominion Post, December 13.)
THE LATEST census confirms what was already obvious: New Zealand has quietly undergone a profound demographic revolution. From being one of the world’s most homogeneous societies, it has become one of the most diverse.
One in four New Zealanders was born overseas – an astonishing statistic that makes us one of the world’s most immigrant-friendly societies. Asian ethnic groups have almost doubled in size since 2001.

The change is most dramatic in Auckland, where a 2011 study found that 40 percent of the population was born in another country.
What’s even more remarkable is that, in contrast with Britain and Australia, this has been accomplished without any obvious social or racial tension.

Apart from the pressure on housing prices, New Zealand has painlessly absorbed the new arrivals. Our embrace of ethnic diversity confirms that we are essentially a liberal, tolerant and easy-going society.
Yet that social harmony is potentially under threat – and the great irony is that the threat comes not from conservative New Zealanders, but from people purporting to represent immigrant groups.

On Jim Mora’s Afternoons programme on Radio New Zealand this week, Dr Camille Nakhid, chairwoman of Auckland Council’s ethnic people’s advisory panel (to which Bevan Chuang, erstwhile paramour of mayor Len Brown, was also appointed), talked about the need for ethnic groups to have more say in local government.
No one could object to such groups having an advisory function, but Dr Nakhid, an academic who lectures in something called social sciences (no surprises there), was talking about much more than that.

She believes ethnic representatives should be given a statutory role in decision-making – just like Auckland Council’s non-elected Maori statutory board, whose two members recently exercised a casting vote in favour of a living wage for council employees.
Dr Nakhid talked airily about not compromising democratic principles, but in fact was advocating exactly that. She seemed to draw a self-serving distinction between democratic “principles”, which she believes justify special rights for ethnic groups, and something less important called the democratic “process”.

Apparently the tired old idea of one person having one vote doesn’t quite cut it anymore.
She talked about the need for ethnic minorities to have “separate but equal” representation with Maori in Auckland – in other words, compounding what is already an abuse of democracy. And she didn’t really answer Mora’s question about how ethnic representation could be arranged when Auckland has an estimated 200 ethnic groups. A minor technicality, no doubt.

If Dr Nakhid had deliberately set out to create friction where currently there is none, she couldn’t have found a better way to go about it. Nothing is more likely to arouse resentment of immigrant groups than demands for privileged treatment.
And here’s another thing. We can safely assume one of the reasons so many people immigrate to New Zealand is that it’s an infinitely more democratic society than the ones they left behind. To then call for a change in the way our governance is organised seems downright perverse.

* * *

OUTRAGE is the defining mood of our time. Upset by the way you’ve been treated by a bus driver or an airport security officer? Go to the media and your grievance will be on tonight’s news bulletin and tomorrow’s front page.
Offended by a throwaway line from Bob Dylan in a year-old interview about the way some Croatians behaved in World War Two? If you’re fortunate enough to live in France, you can get the state to prosecute him on your behalf under laws governing “hate speech” – one of the most chilling phrases in the language.

Spotted an opportunity to kneecap a couple of talkback hosts you don’t like? Orchestrate a social media campaign to frighten weak-kneed companies into withdrawing their advertising and intimidate the station into taking the hosts off the air.
Avowed Marxist Giovanni Tiso did just that in his campaign against RadioLive hosts John Tamihere and Willy Jackson, and must have been thrilled at how easily he was able to make capitalism look gutless. Mass bullying has never been easier than in the era of Facebook and Twitter.

* * *

A LATE CONTENDER has come to hand in the quest for the most flatulent public relations statement of the year. It’s always a hotly contested category, but I think we have a clear winner.
Congratulating itself on being named PR Agency of the Year 2013, Professional Public Relations said in a press release: “The award follows a transformational year at PPR. The agency has rolled out an innovative channel agnostic client experience across the company’s seven Australian and New Zealand offices with account teams now providing a mix of owned, earned and bought strategies, services and channels to help brands tell and share their stories.”

You almost have to admire a firm that can display such magnificent contempt for the English language.




Anonymous said...

Dr Camille Nakhid.

Hmm. I'll bet she is a Muslim. Troublemakers and stirrers wherever they go, from the Middle East to Somalia to Thailand to the Philippines.

I noticed with concern that the number of Muslims in the country had increased by 10,000 or so since the last census in 2006.
Definitely not a good thing. The massive influx of tens of thousands of Muslims into Australia has already resulted in a couple of Muslim bikie gangs being formed there.

This little "foray" by Dr Nakhid will be the first step. Next, it'll be separate pools (or swimming hours) for Muslim women. After that will come the demand for "prayer rooms" in buildings. This will be shari'a law being introduced. Little by little, step by step - just like a frog in a pot of water being heated warmer and warmer.

These people know what they are doing, and it is the imams and people like Dr Nakhid who set the agenda and push this stuff.

Karl du Fresne said...

Dr Nakhid is from Trinidad and Tobago.

Brendan McNeill said...

"What’s even more remarkable is that, in contrast with Britain and Australia, this has been accomplished without any obvious social or racial tension. "

Karl, I think you will find that in Britain, the tension is not along racial lines but around the cultural clash between western liberal values, and the intolerant religious ideology of Islam that is now very pervasive in the UK and Europe.

Similarly, the 2005 Cronulla riots in Sydney were (according to Wikipedia) 'a series of sectarian clashes... a group of volunteer surf lifesavers were assaulted by a group of young men of Middle Eastern appearance'.

'Sectarian clashes' is newspeak for religiously motivated conflict, usually initiated by Muslims. Likewise the phrase 'young men of Middle Eastern appearance' is code for Muslims. In the UK, the MSM use the word 'Asian', or 'Asian youths' to the same effect.

Islam is not a race anymore than Christianity or other religious identities, so these are not conflicts based upon racial divides.

The reason we don't experience the same issues as Britain and Australia is that our Muslim community is relatively small, and consequently peaceful. Unfortunately bitter experience in other Western nations shows that these dynamics change as numbers increase.

I don’t know if Dr Nakhid is Muslim; her country of origin gives no clue, but what I do know is that the local Muslim community in Christchurch was successful in demanding prayer rooms be installed at Hagley High School, a public State school. They were unsuccessful in their demands for closed swimming sessions for Muslim women at our publicly owned pools – at least for the time being.

Jigsaw said...

I am not sure why anyone is surprised by Dr Nakhid saying such things, after all Maori have been getting their way in such matters for some time now-the Auckland City Council being just the very worst example and yet most people seem unconcerned. Our regional council the Waikato Regional Council - voted to have separate Maori wards and when it was suggested that the voters be given the chance to vote on the matter Cr.Lois Livingston said that if they were given the chance they would just vote it down! The same proposition was in fact voted down in two of the local District councils and by a large margin. You begin to realise that some people have almost no idea what democracy actually means in practice.