Seymour challenges Jackson to co-governance debate

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson. Photo: Mark Mitchell
Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson. Photo: Mark Mitchell
Willie Jackson says democracy has changed from being the tyranny of the majority and people need to stop being scared of co-governance.

On TVNZ's Q + A programme today, the Māori Development Minister also accused Act New Zealand leader David Seymour of hypocrisy and scaremongering.

Seymour responded this morning with a challenge to debate the issue, and said the Government had an at best incoherent and at worst deceitful view on co-governance.

Co-governance very broadly describes arrangements for governments to share decision-making with iwi or other groups.

"It's not about a Māori takeover as Seymour would have you believe," Jackson told Q + A's Jack Tame.

"This is about working in partnership with Pākehā and I think that's a good thing."

Jackson said Seymour was a beneficiary of the MMP system, which prioritised minority rights and inclusivity, in contrast with the old first-past-the-post electoral system.

"Co-governance and co-management are based on the principles of MMP," the minister added.

"Democracy's changed....We're in a consensus-type democracy now. This is not a majority democracy. First-past-the-post has finished," he told the Q + A programme.

Jackson said Māori and non-Māori would have an equal say on Three Waters if mana whenua had 50 percent representation in appointing resource management boards.

Act leader David Seymour. Photo: Mark Mitchell
Act leader David Seymour. Photo: Mark Mitchell
He said on virtually every measure of social and economic wellbeing, Māori were lagging behind.

"We want more because we want to close the gap in terms of Māori and Pākehā."

He said contemporary democracy was not "the tyranny of the majority anymore".

Jackson also said Seymour was a "hypocrite" for attacking co-governance when Act previously supported the Independent Māori Statutory Board in Auckland.

On that board, two members sit with voting rights on city council committees handling natural and physical resources management and stewardship.

Seymour responded almost immediately this morning.

He said Jackson showed all the reasons why a proper debate on co-governance was needed.

"Willie Jackson has claimed repeatedly that he'd like to have a debate with me about this. I welcome this," Seymour said.

"The reason we haven't is because the Prime Minister's office won't let him. After this morning's interview I'm not surprised."

In a statement, the Act leader added: "It's a sad state of affairs when our constitutional settings are changing and the Government can't put forward a coherent argument.

"At best they don't understand what they're saying, at worst they're deliberately muddying the water with misinformation."

Seymour said Act believed in liberal democracy and "superficial" characteristics like race, sex, sexuality and religion were not relevant to voting rights.

"I'm standing by ready to debate Willie Jackson and I'll be armed with facts instead of personal insults. The ball is in his court."

National Party leader Christopher Luxon last month said there was no consensus on what co-governance actually meant in the local context.

Luxon said he had concerns about co-governance moving from management of local and natural resources into the delivery of public services.

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